Every year at this time we're transformed into super-grandparents! This year we're going for a week in Hourtin, in Gironde, on the shores of the largest freshwater lake in France. We have a wooden house on the water, and it looks really charming!
Saturday - the big departure
We arrived in Poitiers with the Grandchildren last night. Paul, 6, and Peter, 10, are excited at the idea of spending a week at the beach! Their parents are happy to see a week without children.
At 11 am the car is loaded, the picnic is in the cooler, the children securely attached. After an hour and a half singing songs along the road, we take a lunch break in Royan while waiting for the ferry. As soon as we're on board everyone feels on like they're on holiday! The sun is shining, the sky is blue and we can see Cordouan lighthouse in the distance...
Wind in our hair, sun glasses and flip flops on, I feel the week will be real fun! After 30 minutes crossing the estuary, and one more hour of driving we arrive at Hourtin! The chalet is beautiful and everything is provided for us! The owner tells us all the best places to visit and gives us some ideas for walks in the area. There are three bedrooms, the kitchen is spacious and well equipped (just as well - cooking is my hobby!)...and the wooden terrace is ideal for long naps in the shade.
After settling in, we start to check out the surroundings and do some shopping. The town of Hourtin is close enough to the port, and we decide that we'll rent some bicycles so we can spend our holidays without the car!
Paul has learned how to ride a bike without stabilisers now, so we can all ride together. We stop at the Tourist Office where Nadia greets us with a smile! She takes the time to advise us and propose activities for the kids (and for us). We’ll never have time to do everything she suggests in just one week!
Sunday - off on our adventure
The first lie-in of the holidays for Peter. You can tell it's been a long year for him! By half past ten everyone is up (at last) and we all have coffee and croissants.
Today's plan is to find out where everything is in the neighbourhood and beyond! Nadia (the Tourist Office advisor) told us that the sea is just ten minutes away, we absolutely must have our first swim today!
Monday - 30 °C in the water, incredible!
Today it's hot - really hot! We decide on a trip to a park especially for children - Splash Park - where large inflatable structures float in the water. For only € 5 per person, children can play on them for an hour! There's also high jump, a trampoline, a climbing wall, and the children really seem to have fun! Above all it's an opportunity for me to read my book in the shade of an oak...
Tuesday - to the market
Today is market day! The two boys are not so cheerful when we announce our cycling trip, but they soon get into the swing of things. I really love all these colours, smells and the small local things to enjoy. Peter and Paul quickly work out that the market is the opportunity to taste sausages, buns and the pastry treats of the region - cannelés.
I find a large wicker basket, just what I wanted to go to the beach. It's full of colour and smells of summer! I'll use this afternoon for our trip to the seaside.
Wednesday - discovering the village of Piqueyrot by bike
Today we cycle to the village of Piqueyrot on the western shore of lake Hourtin. It reminds me of the oyster villages of Arcachon - all small houses made of odds and ends, it's a place with lots of charm! We lunch at Le Nautique restaurant in a rustic family atmosphere. The garlic chips, their speciality, are just divine! John feasts on prawns while I take a fresh tartar, just as I like it!
In the afternoon we rent a canoe and peddloes at “Plein'r Loc” and take the opportunity to discover lots of little hidden coves...
Thursday - Maubuisson
This morning, the children become explorers! We reserved our places at the Tourist Office at the beginning of our stay (7 € / child).
Peter and Paul left with two guides and a string of new friends to discover the forest of Maubuisson, building huts, solving puzzles and undertaking the challenges on the program! We John and I take some quiet time to discover the Lake Trail. It starts in the centre of Maubuisson and leads to Bombannes. We'll come back this way this afternoon with the kids!
Friday - the châteaux of the Médoc
At the Tourist Office we book a family visit to a châteaux and arrive at Château Baudan Listrac at 10 am. We visit the wine workshops, the cellar and the vines, and at the end of the visit we pass the quiz during the tasting with all the answers right!
John decides to buy a case of wine for our children, a great way to remember our fantastic holiday. We leave and drive along the famous châteaux route to Pauillac, where we sit on the terrace of a restaurant at the edge of the estuary. It's nice to have discovered the famous wine growing part of the Médoc, having spent most of our holiday on the beach side!
We take the road towards Saint Estèphe and Bégadan at 3 pm. The vineyards and châteaux are magnificent. We stop in Blaignan to discover the local speciality, Noisettines, a kind of caramel-coated hazel nut - delicious! We visit the small museum explaining its history and manufacture and I leave with a pot of noisettines cream to try out one of the recipes suggested - Noisettines chocolate? The boys buy presents for their parents!
Saturday - back home
All good things come to an end! I feel we could easily have stayed a week longer! The children are well rested, with a few freckles and some colour! The holiday atmosphere awaits us once again on the ferry crossing of the estuary before returning to their parents
- The ease of getting about by bike (we didn't use the car once all holiday)
- The variety of things to do and see
- The calm of the lake and the wildness of the ocean
- The food