The cottage at La Garde is a completely renovated vacation home, located in the Petit Champagne region of Cognac, between the Atlantic beaches and the Dordogne. It once was the grain store and baking house of a large farm, and it stands near the old manor house that has been converted into a vacation home and is also available for rent (sleeps 9-11). The two houses share the private pool and the grounds. They stand on three acres of grassy park-like setting on a hillside overlooking vineyards, sunflower fields and farmsteads in the Haute Saintonge region of the Charente-Maritime. The property is secluded, with the closest neighbor 300 m away. A long chestnut tree alley leads from the country road up the hill to the two houses. The small forest on the hilltop is part of the estate and separates the property from the small village of Ste. Lheurine with its 12th century church. The grounds include a small orchard of various fruit trees and berry bushes, a boules (petanque) court and several outbuildings, as well as ample parking space.
As this once was a large working farm, there are several buildings on the property, in addition to the main house and the cottage. Extending from the main house are former servants quarters (now a private apartment occasionally used by the owners) and a large barn, now used to store garden equipment. Of the former stables for horses, cows and pigs only some walls remain; a car park now occupies part of that space. A huge barn, that once also contained all the equipment for making and storing wine, cognac and pineau, stands at the eastern end of the property. A small building on the incline above the main house today houses the pump machinery for the pool. And at the very top, at the edge of the woods, is the old pigeon house that in years past lost its roof and is awaiting a revival of some sort.
The two-story cottage has been completely renovated, inside and out. The ground floor is occupied by a single large room, 9.5 x 5 m in size, with tile flooring. It comprises a large kitchen and dining area at one end and a sitting area at the other. The two are partly separated by a lovely wooden staircase that leads to the bedrooms above. A large old fireplace has been closed off and is today only decorative. Four large windows facing east and south provide ample light. French doors open up to a terrace on the West side, a perfect place for leisurely evening meals while enjoying the light of the setting sun on the countryside below and later the huge clear sky with the Milky Way above.
The kitchen area is equipped with working countertop, four-burner gas stove, electric oven, large refrigerator/freezer, dishwasher, microwave, coffeemaker, and lots of pots, pans and dining ware. Adjoining it is a small pantry with laundry washer and dryer. The water comes from the public water supply system of Ste. Lheurine and is safe to drink. There is ample storage space in wall cabinets and under-counter cabinets. For indoor dining there is a dining table with six chairs. In front outside of the kitchen area is a terrace with teak outdoor furniture, with a tall hedge protecting it against views from the main house.
The sitting area at the Southern end of the room has a couch, four easy chairs, a coffee table, and a flat-screen TV with satellite reception (French, English, German programs). There is WiFi internet access inside the house and on the front terrace.
The staircase from downstairs to the upper level leads to a large open area, with ample built-in storage space, between the two bedrooms at opposite ends of the house. Each has a mansard window facing east, the larger one at the Southern end has an additional skylight that can be darkened. One bedroom has a kingsize double bed 180 x 190 cm. The other one has a 140 x190 cm double bed plus a 90 x 190 single bed. There is one bathroom upstairs with shower, wash basin and toilet. Both bedrooms and the bathroom have separately controlled heating/air conditioning from heatpumps.
Most of the outside space is shared with the occupants of the main house.
The 12 x 6 m in-ground pool is reached by the stairs from the back terrace. It is shared with the occasional vacation renters of the near-by main house. To ensure safety, the pool and pool terrace are completely fenced in by a wall and a metal fence. The water is continuously recycled and purified through salt water chlorination, which does not use chlorine. The pool is 2 m deep at one end, rising to 1 m at the shallow end, where Roman steps descend into the water. There are a number of chaise longues, several small outdoor tables and a long bench, and flowers and bushes surround the entire area.
Behind the main house and the pool is a gently rising slope that leads to the boule court, the fruit orchard and the children’s swing-and-slide set (firmly built into the ground). The barbeque, at the side of the small pump house for the pool, is a few steps up the hillside behind the main house.
The front lawn of the estate is spacious, with a deep old well in the middle (locked with an iron safety grill) and a decorative traditional horse carriage to admire. Another well is in the back, also locked with a safety grill. The large grassy area in the back leads up the hill to the woods, where red squirrels, lots of birds, a badger family and an occasional deer make their homes.
The nearest substantial village, Archiac, is 5 km away (five minutes by car); there are: a small supermarket with gas station, a very good butcher shop, a good artisanal bakery, two small grocery stores, a flower shop, a pharmacy, hair salons, car repair shops, a bank, a post office, etc. The larger town of Jonzac, 10 minutes away, has several market days each week with fresh vegetables, cheeses, fish and meats, four supermarkets (Leclerc, Intermarche, LeaderPrice, Lidl) and all other essential urban facilities, including banks, dentists, doctors, hospital, restaurants, bars, brasseries, a disco, a train station, thermal baths, a casino and a large indoor water adventure world. A small, grassy airfield for private planes, operated by the local aero club, is nearby and some of the club members offer sightseeing flights for about 150 Euro per hour (3 passengers). Jonzac boasts an impressive old castle, today housing the mairie and the sous-prefecture.
The area is famous for the production of cognac and Pineau de Charente. The local wines and food are pleasant, and there are numerous interesting activities and sights to enjoy, including great day hikes and endless bike rides, visiting nearby villages and markets, old village churches, tours of the famous Cognac distilleries, the sandy beaches of Meschers, Royan and the Ile d’Oleron, the small port villages along the Gironde, a day trip into the Medoc, Bordeaux, Blaye, Arcachon, the oyster beds at Marennes, caves with prehistoric drawings in the Dordogne, and much more.
15 minutes away is Pons with its impressive donjon and the old pilgrims hospital, both from the 12th century, and a picnic area where one can rent boats to paddle on the Seugne.
25 minutes away is Cognac. 35 minutes away is Saintes with its Roman amphitheatre and Triumphal arch and its magnificent old churches. 45 minutes away is the city of Royan with its fine Atlantic beaches. And 45 minutes away is the ancient and beautiful mountaintop city of Angouleme. Day trips are also possible to Bordeaux (75 minutes), Rochefort (90 minutes), the Ile d’Oleron (120 minutes) and to Aubeterre (60 minutes), Riberac and the Dordogne.
The closest train station is in Jonzac, with connections to Bordeaux (about 1 hour) and Saintes (about 30 Minuten), Rochefort und La Rochelle.
The closest TGV connection to points north and south is in Angouleme (about 45 minutes by car).
The nearest entries/exits to the Superhighway A 10 (toll) Paris-Bordeaux are near Pons (20 km) and Mirambeau (25 km).