Les Gîtes du Vigneron
Tim & Vanessa Westacott
- English, French
About Tim & Vanessa Westacott
Vanessa gained her degree in French from the University of Reading, during which time she also spent a year in France, in Orléans. Here she gained her love of France and of teaching from her work as an English language Assistant. Vanessa worked for Air France at Heathrow Airport for a short time. This was a wonderful opportunity to continue to hone her French language skills on a daily basis but it was not her vocation. She returned to Reading University and gained a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). After five years teaching in Basingstoke Vanessa moved into the private sector. She was appointed Teacher of French at Downe House School, a high achieving all girls’ public school in Berkshire, where she taught for 28 years. She became highly respected by both colleagues and pupils, achieving superb results for both the girls and the school. Vanessa was also a Guide Leader in the UK. She helped to set up and run a Girl Guide Unit in Thatcham, Berkshire. During this time she became the first and only Guide Leader in my area to gain a qualification for International trips. Vanessa successfully led two trips to Switzerland and one to France during her time with the Guides as well as helping with summer camps in the UK. Vanessa is a keen social tennis player and swimmer. Tim is a Chartered Surveyor and Chartered Loss Adjuster. He graduated from Reading University in 1979 and, after a spell with British Rail Property Board, he joined a loss adjusting practice (1982). He remained in the insurance industry until he took early retirement and moved to our home in France to assist with the renovation project. Tim was a keen hockey player completing 49 seasons in the sport, the majority playing for Reading HC. Unfortunately hockey has not reached the Charente Maritime. He is also a keen scuba diver. We were married in 1981. We have two daughters, both of whom are now working in the UK, having successfully graduated from their respective universities.
Tim & Vanessa Westacott purchased this Cottage in 2013
Why Tim & Vanessa Westacott chose Saint-Seurin-de-Palenne
Why did we fall in love with this property? Well the vendor introduced us to Cognac Schweppes and every time we visited we would sit out in the sunshine and have a Cognac Schweppes! But on a more serious note, when you see our house you will understand why we love it so much, especially during the 2700 hour of sunshine that we have to endure here in the Charente Maritime! We decided, in 2010, that we would find a property where we could create both a child friendly gîte complex and a language school, which had always been Vanessa's dream. On a very wet Friday 13th August 2012 we took shelter in an estate agents and our plans started to come to fruition. The house did not "tick all the boxes" but the compromises were few and outweighed by the positives. We wanted to be in a village so that we could integrate with French life and culture which we are gradually doing. We are mid way between three large towns (Cognac, Saintes and Jonzac) and only 40 minutes from the beautiful beaches of the Gironde Estuary. We are also midway between Bordeaux and La Rochelle airports (approx 1 hour away) and 10 minutes from the A10 autoroute. We love the area with its rivers, sunflowers and vines. The people have been very welcoming and helpful, especially during the first year when Tim, with his O level French, was living here on his own! We are sure that you will also love the area, its tranquillity and the opportunities that are around to be enjoyed.
What makes this Cottage unique
When we first saw the house we knew that we had found "the" property for us. The were enough dépendances for us to create four or five gîtes and also an old stable which would be ideal for the school's classroom. Additionally the private areas were habitable, many of the properties that we looked at were not!, so we could live comfortably in the house while the renovation works progressed. There was also a beautifully converted chai (wine storage barn) attached to the rear of the house that had masses of potential for us to use or rent out for functions. Our medium term plan!
100% refund for cancellations more than 60 days before check-in date. 50% refund for cancellations more than 30 days before check-in date.
Great location and welcoming hosts
If you would like to stay in the countryside in a really comfortable, well maintained, clean gite and surroundings with a fantastic swimming pool. Where you could relax or take any amount of day trips then look no further. Cognac is such a beautiful area to visit and Tim and Vanessa could not be anymore hospitable.
Thank you for your lovely review.
It was a pleasure to have you and your family stay with us and we hope to see you again soon. The dolphin now has a new friend, Flavio the Flamboyant Flamingo !!
Tim & Vanessa
superbe séjour dans une propriété calme agréable
séjour très agréable .descriptif correspond à ce que l 'on a trouvé sur place.
gîtes très confortables , irréprochables, , jardin et piscine superbement entretenus. Propriété sécurisée idéale pour les enfants. Propriétaires très accueillants et très sympathiques
Bonjour Vanessa & Didier,
Merci pour votre gentil commentaire.
Nous sommes heureux que votre séjour chez nous vous a plu et nous espérons vous revoir un jour à l’avenir.
Tim & Vanessa
perfect for children
Really good place to have wonderfull holidays. The children were very happy with swimming pool, play areas....
Merci Claire. Nous esperons que vous nous verrez bientot. Bien cordialement. Tim
Great stay in a lovely place
Our week in Vanessa and Tim's house was very nice in a very pretty and well-equipped home ideally situated in a quiet village near to all amenities.The swimmingpool is really pleasant and our children loved the trampoline and games put at their disposal. We enjoy our stay a lot. Vanessa and Tim are very nice and attentive towards their guests. Thank you and we hope to come back soon.
Merci Séverine. It was lovely to meet you, Claire and your families. We are very pleased that you enjoyed your stay and look forward to your return, perhaps for two weeks next time!! Bon week-end. Tim et Vanessa
A perfect family holiday in beautiful surroundings
We had a fantastic 2 weeks here, welcomed warmly by Tim & Vanessa who were on hand throughout our stay to help with bookings and for advice.
The gite was beautiful, everything has been thought of! They were clean and excellently maintained. We had our own parking with locked gates and an outside area with garden furniture and a charcoal BBQ which was private.
The pool was warm and kept really clean with plenty of sunbeds.
The grounds are lovely with well kept play areas and equipment - the children had a fantastic time! We were there with other members of our extended family in 2 of the other gites and fun was had by all!
We enjoyed exploring the local area including cycling though some of the vineyards and past sunflower fields. We enjoyed visiting the local town of Pons as well as visiting the coast for the beaches.
It is a beautiful part of France and we hope to return again and wouldn't hesitate staying here again.
We cannot find criticism with the gite at all and would highly recommend staying here.
Thank you Claire for your very kind words. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay and hope to see you again soon.
Charmant et paisible
Nous avons logé dans le gîte Chèvrefeuille début août à 4 adultes et 4 enfants. Nous avons découvert un endroit neuf, très agréable, décoré avec goût, avec tout le confort et les services que l'on peut attendre d'un gîte. Il y a une cour privative avec salon de jardin.
Les propriétaires sont absolument charmants, très serviables, et nous ont fourni de nombreux renseignements sur les environs (Vanessa Westacott est parfaitement bilingue). Tout a été pensé pour le bien être des hôtes, jusqu'à la glacière pour partir en pique-nique.
A l'extérieur, un très bel espace sous abri est dédié aux touts petits. Le jardin est superbe jalonné d'un terrain de pétanque, d'une grande piscine, et d'un trampoline. Livres, jeux de société, table de ping pong, babyfoot, badmington, etc., rien n'a été oublié. On peut même combiner vacances et cours d'anglais pour les plus motivés.
Nous avons découvert la ville de Saintes, très animée en été. Si nous revenons dans la région, nous y retournerons sans hésiter. Grand bravo à Tim et Vanessa !
Merci pour votre très gentil commentaire.
Nous sommes heureux que votre séjour chez nous vous a plu et nous espérons vous revoir un jour à l’avenir.
Tim et Vanessa.
Our local town, Pons, is 6 km away.
This medieval town stands on the historic pilgrimage route of Saint Jacques de Compostelle. The Hôpital des Pèlerins (Pilgrims’ Hospital), situated on the edge of the town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The centre of the town is dominated by the 12th century Donjon (Keep) and the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) is in part of the old castle.
There are a number of cafes and restaurants as well as the usual local shops, pharmacy and post office in the small town centre. There is also a small cinema with two screens.
The river Seugne meanders through the valley below and is the location for the Parc des Loisirs (Camping and Leisure Park) where you may hire canoes to investigate the river.
On our doorstep is the Château des Enigmes, located on the outskirts of Pons. There is a fun and educational theme park within the grounds of this Italian renaissance château and is a great day out for the family
We are situated equidistant from three major towns (20 – 25 minutes by car), each with something different to offer:
Saintes: To the North East is the Roman town of Saintes (Mediolanum Santonum), situated on the banks of the Charente. There is a remarkably well conserved amphitheatre, triumphal arch (Arch of Germanicus) and the two churches of Saint Eutrope and the Abbaye aux Dames. In the centre of the town is the cathedral and a thriving pedestrian shopping area with cobbled streets, plenty of cafes and restaurants, a theatre and a cinema.
Cognac: To the North West is the town of Cognac, home to the major cognac houses (except for Courvoisier which is in nearby Jarnac). A tour of one of these distilleries is well worthwhile followed by either a walk or a boat trip along the Charente. As you would expect there is a bustling town centre, also partly pedestrianised, cobbled streets, boutique shops, cafes and restaurants.
Jonzac: To the South is the town of Jonzac, which is home to the water-park, activity centre and beauty centre “Les Antilles” de Jonzac. There is also the renowned health spa, ‘Les Thermes de Jonzac’ and a casino.
Further afield is the fortified town of Angoulême, 45 minutes away by car. Angoulême is the home of Hervé, author of Tintin. In the centre of the town is a “treasure hunt” of huge murals painted on the sides of the buildings. You can also take a walk around the ramparts, enjoy the wide open streets, historic buildings, cafes and restaurants in the centre of town. In September there is the famed ‘Circuit des Ramparts’, a must for lovers of classic cars.
The wide sandy beaches of the Gironde Estuary, at Mescher and Saint Georges de Didonne are around 40 minutes away. The beaches of the Atlantic coast, north of Royan, at Saint Palais sur Mer (La Plage de la Grande Côte and La Côte Sauvage) are approximately 45 - 50 minutes away.
While in Royan you could also visit the Zoo de la Palmyre. Nestled in an 18 hectare pine forest, it is home to some 1,600 mammals, birds and reptiles. Or take a 20 minute ferry across the Gironde Estuary to find the vineyards of the Médoc or the surfing beaches of the Atlantic coast.
Spend an hour in the car and you will arrive in either Bordeaux or La Rochelle, both of which are beautiful and not to be missed.
There are also many beautiful Châteaux to visit, including those at Crazanne and La Rochefoucauld.
Of course we’ve also overlooked all the opportunities you will have to take a ‘dégustation’ (wine, Pineau or cognac tasting) in a multitude of local cognac and pineau distilleries or in the vineyards of the Bordeaux region.