Steph, Ali and Sam say bonjour et bienvenue to Le Bolthole at Juac.
We hope you can find everything you need on our little website. Just give us a call if you have any questions.
The sunny Charente is in the south-west of France and Le Bolthole is easy-peasey to get to from the UK via the Channel ports at Cherbourg and St Malo or the Airports at La Rochelle (a 1.5hr drive), Limoges (1.5hrs), Bordeaux (1.5hrs) or Bergerac (2hrs). If you get lost our full address is M. et Mme Sadler, 5 Rue des Vignerons, Juac, 16120 St Simon, France. It is roughly halfway between Cognac and Angouleme on the northern side of the beautiful River Charente.
Sadler Snr (aka Grandad Baggie) Aug 2013
Anne-Cecile and Ali playing ping-pong August 2015
Anne-Cecile, Little Raphaelle and Ali (Marraine) - Easter 2017
Le Bolthole is a very traditional Charentaise house built in the mid 19 century in beautiful local stone (it's a gorgeous cream colour) and with a calm and very private south-facing courtyard for chilling out. It is virtually on the riverbank (it takes Steph just thirty seconds or so to walk to the river for his fishing fixes)
and is in the heart of the cognac vineyards. We even have our own grapevines growing against the house but haven't yet mastered the art of production!
There are some super strolls and bicycle trips nearby to the beautiful villages of Graves St Amant, Graves (stop for a little degustation and buy some local wine, pear cognac or pineau at Brillet's wonderful distillery en route), St Simon, Vibrac, Angeac-sur-Charente and Bassac. Our neighbours, Mike and Bea, Gilles and Michele and Helene are lovely.
Warm stone, blue skies, lazy days...
There are four good sized double bedrooms, bathrooms on each level, a fully fitted kitchen and a large through dining room and lounge with a magnificent open fireplace and our beautiful art nouveau Deville et Cie Hiver wood/coal burning stove. A gallery room makes up a fifth double/triple bedroom if necessary (the kids seem to like it in particular as they can pretend to be asleep whilst still watching the tv down below in the lounge).
There is a cool BOSE sound system in le salon so don’t forget your iPod.There is also a full SKY tv facility for all UK programmes and the soaps, football, cricket or rugby (very usefully it also comes with an off button, if you want to forget about the UK and completely unwind). There are usually a few DVDs around but if you have any favourites don’t forget to bring them. Le Bolthole also has wi-fi (the access code being on the bottom of the Orange Livebox).
At the other side of the inner courtyard is a summerhouse with the garden furniture, bicycles, kayaks, inflatable swimming pool and a laundry room with washing machine, tumble dryer, iron and ironing board.
There is also a separate large garage and other parking next to the house in the shared outer courtyard.
The water and central heating are on separate systems. The gas for the central heating and cooker comes from a tank, which is sunk below the courtyard. The central heating boiler is in the cupboard to the left of the kitchen sink. Ignore the left dial with numbers and just set the right hand dial to either of the "on" settings (the sun or snowflake symbol). The thermostat is on the wall opposite the ground floor loo. Always make sure the boiler pressure gauge is in the white zone between 1 and 3; if it is below let some more water in via the red stopcock below the sink in the ground floor bathroom. Please remember to turn the boiler dial to off when you leave.
You will also need to turn the hot water on when you arrive. Go to the bathroom on the top floor and walk through it to the small boiler room. The switches are on the far wall – the one for the water is second from the left with three options; top (arret - off) middle (marche auto) and bottom (marche force) – nudge to the middle, marche auto, setting. Please remember to nudge back to arret when you leave.
The bread van lady comes around at about 10am and you will hear her toot her horn. If she hasn't got what you want on the first morning, you can put in an order for subsequent mornings (any type of bread, croissant, pain au chocolat etc). Pay her on your last morning. Alternatively, there are good bakers in St. Meme and Bassac (the latter also having some useful other daily provisions).
There is also a butcher's van that comes around every Friday morning at about 10am and parks up in the courtyard. Lovely locally sourced meat of excellent quality and provenance.
The nearest supermarkets are Super-U in Chateauneuf sur Charente (Monday to Saturday 8.30am -7.30pm) and Intermarche and Lidl in Jarnac (Monday to Saturday 9am-7.30pm and Sunday 9am-11.45am) as well as the larger Auchan in Cognac (similar hours to Intermarche). We tend to use Auchan for a big weekly shop and Intermarche and Lidl for topping up.
There are lots of typically French markets;
Jarnac – Every day except Monday – best Tues and Fri (7am-1pm)
Chateauneuf-sur-Charente – Tues, Thurs and Sat
Cognac – Tues-Sat
Rouillac – 27th of the month (you can buy anything from a lemon to a donkey!)
There are hospitals in Cognac and Chateauneuf and Dr Reynard has a GP Surgery in Jarnac.
Neighbouring Bassac is a very pretty village, has a wonderful Abbey, a post office, some lovely architecture and a couple of good restaurants – L'Essille (a bit posher than normal and set menus are good) and Auberge de Conde (our favourite - good bistrot cooking everyday in high season – closed Monday in low season). Take a slow walk around the back streets, enjoy the calm and cool of the Abbey and watch the trout playing in the river.
Nearby Bourras has the L'Abri de Pins – excellent home cooking for lunch from noon each day except Mondays. It's often a set menu and a surprise.
Jarnac has a number of cafes and restaurants. Le Coin Charentaise near the bridge serves hearty lunches and pizzas etc for the kids. The Restaurant du Chateau next to the BNP Paribas Bank on the Place du Chateau is very posh and pricey if you want to treat yourselves. There are a couple of good cafes (Cafe L'Alambic and particularly Cafe du Theatre with the likeable Maurice as Patron and free wifi) on the square close to the Chateau du Courvoisier and its distillery. Le Domino is near the Mairie (we named our spotty dog after it).
By the river and in the pretty village of Bourg-Charente near Jarnac is the super cool and excellent restaurant La Ribaudiere. Book in advance in high season and at weekends. Fantastic "chariot du fromage" and lovely views of the riverside and bridge from la terrace.
The local history is very interesting. The Free French Resistance was very active in this part of the country in WW2 and a true local and national hero was Claude Bonnier as seen below (codename "Hypotenuse"), who has a memorial at nearby Angeac-sur-Charente (the red, white and blue cross emblem being that of the Free French Resistance). From London, General de Gaulle appointed Claude as Lt Colonel and Deluge Regional Militaire for Region B covering an area that included the Charente, Charente-Maritime, Gironde and Dordogne. He was a great help to the Allies who made many clandestine airborne sorties behind enemy lines in the fields nearby. Claude and his mate Jacques Nancy (codename "Sape") landed by Lysander plane in a field nearby at Angeac on 14 November 1943. Their guerrilla activities with the local resistance leaders softened the way for the Allies to take Angouleme on 31 August 1944. Rather than yield to extreme torture when betrayed to the Nazis in Bordeaux, Claude took a cyanide pill sewn into his trousers. We've named our little boat and one of the bedrooms after him.
A visit to Oradour sur Glane near Limoges is recommended to reflect upon the brutality of the Waffen SS Nazis when they occupied the area in 1944. Not for the faint hearted.
This area is also, of course, the home of cognac (not to be confused with brandy) and all the famous houses have their extensive vineyards nearby.
The nearest large town, Jarnac, is 10 mins away and the home of Hine, Louis Royer and Courvoisier as well as the Mitterrand family (Francois being the 21st President of the Republic of France). There is a great little tour available starting at the modern Chateau du Courvoisier reception next to the river.
Cognac is about 15 mins away and has many distillers including Hennessy (the guided tour from the distillery is also well worth it), Martell, Remy Martin and Camus. It has a great Blues festival in the Summer. We like eating at Le Globe on the main square and walking along the riverside.
Angouleme, the County Town of Poitou-Charente, is about 20 mins away and has a good shopping centre and is on the TGV link from London/Paris/Bordeaux.
Our lovely French family, Anne-Cecile (known affectionately as "Aunty Seal"), Christophe, little Raphaelle, Sabine, Lucas and Yann, live in Saintes, which is another beautiful town on the Charente and about 40 mins away. It's well worth a trip and the shops and restaurants are very good. There's also a Roman Amphitheatre. We've bought a few bits and bobs for Le Bolthole from a shop in Saintes called Maisons du Monde and Sam gets his skateboarding gear at TigerTiger.
Dad at Anne-Cecile's BBQ - Clos des Flandres, Saintes August 2015
If you fancy a trip to the coast you could be dipping your twinkle toes in the Atlantic near Royan, the Marennes, Ile de Re etc within 1.5hrs. Aunty Seal's and Sabine's Mom, Christiane, has been a close family friend for some 45 years (she was Christine's pen-friend at Grammar School) and grows oysters with Jean-Claude at Port Des Barques (PDB) in the Marennes, which is a lovely place to visit.
Sam, Ali, Steph and Christiane on the oyster boat "Graty" at PDB - Aug 2011
Our hamlet of Juac is part of the small commune of St. Simon (the village of St. Simon being a 5 minute walk away), which was an important boat building settlement in the 19th century.
It is here that the gabarres were built and launched; flat-bottomed wooden boats, which were used for conveying goods, including cognac and stone, up and down the river and more particularly to and from the ports, including La Rochelle.
At the quayside in Juac (see photo below) you can hop on a gabarre (from May to October), which is now used to take tourists (almost exclusively French) for a trip along the river including through the Juac ecluse (river lock). It's good fun.
The Gabarre Museum (and ticket office) is in St. Simon and well worth a look. La Chabourne is in the main square opposite the Church and Museum and doubles up as the Post Office, Bar and Bistrot. It is run by a young couple and lunches are simple and tasty. Take a gallopin (a small measure of beer), a demi or a pastis and relax. There is a lovely stroll nearby on the pretty quayside.
Should you need to contact us for any reason try Steph's mobile tel no. 00 44 7973 614134, Ali's mobile tel no. 00 44 7843 377207, Steph's work tel no. 00 44 1132 832500 or our home tel no. in Potto 00 44 1642 700917. The landline tel no. at Le Bolthole is 00 33 5452 37890.
Juli-Anne (Downie) looks after the place for us when we are away and she can be contacted in (real) emergencies on 00 33 5453 24641. She lives with her husband Graham (regrettably a devoted Spurs fan), their kids Katie and Holly and the dog, Paxton, at 9, Rue de Gondeville, 16720, St. Meme les Carrieres, which is over the bridge and only 10 mins away by car. Juli-Anne and Graham are good friends.
Bonnes Vacances :-)
Bises from Steph, Ali & Sam xxx
Gallery August 2011 to date
Ali, Steph, Christiane, Mom, Dad, Chris at Le Bolthole
Mom at Ile Madam, Port des Barques
Boing! Boing! (explanations available) from Steph and Sam
Ali and Sandrine at Bourg-Charente Primary School
Paul at "Maurice's" (Cafe du Theatre), Jarnac
Chris, Ali and Steph in Cognac
Dad - Vibrac Nursery
Dad and Lad - a nice bag of roach, bream and carp under the bridge at Juac
Puncture repairs - Dad, Ali, Sam and Alfie
Coleen, Dad, Sam and Alfie - La Chabourne, St Simon - Aug 2013
Sam on the little bridge at Jarnac
Sam and Aunty Seal - Saintes
Sam and skate mate, Grape, Cognac
La Famille Franglaise at Chateau des Enigmes, Pons
Coleen (Murder in Law) and Steph
Jarnac Aug 2013
Sam at St Meme les Carrieres skate park
Paul at The Globe, Cognac
Steph and Ali at The Globe
Ali, Paul and Chris on the little bridge at Bassac
Ali, Yann, Paul, Anne-Cecile, Lucas, Christiane and Chris
Le Bolthole - Easter 2014
Ali, Aunty Seal, Lucas, Yann, Christiane, Chris, Paul, Bea and Mike in the courtyard at Le Bolthole
The Deville et Cie Hiver
Steph on the little bridge at Bassac
Cheers! from Ali and Steph at the Auberge de Conde, Bassac
Dad - lunch at the Auberge de Conde
Bassac May 2014
La Famille Franglaise at 77 Heath Street, Stourbridge
Waiting for the Tour de Poitou-Charente with Juli-Anne, Katie and Holly at St Meme
Le Bolthole Aug 2014
Ali and the Picnic Aug 2014
Steph's Tench (Tinca Tinca) Aug 2014
Ali and Chris "go round and round" on the Guirlande
The Franglaise Family at Saintes
Sam, Grandad Baggie and Steph on the Gabarre
Yann and Sam - skate dudes
Clos de Flandres, Saintes Aug 2014
Ali and Sam - Auchan, Cognac
Ali and Sam at Rouillac
October 27 2014
Steph and Ali
Halloween October 2014
Dad's 90th Birthday at the Albion v Palace
Steph, Chris and Paul at La Ribaudiere, Bourg Charente
La Ribaudiere, Bourg
La Famille Franglais
Le Globe, Cognac
Chris and Ali in the courtyard
Gout du Jour, St Meme with the Downies
Paul and Steph
Cafe du Theatre, Jarnac (Maurice's)
Ali in the courtyard
Dad tucks into Steph's "Sausage Surprise" alfresco tea
Dad's Cafe Gourmand
Steph's big Bream
Dad and Lad
Rouillac Market August 2015
Coleen, Dad and Ali at Bassac
Christiane, Dad, Anne-Cecile, Coleen
Saintes - August 2015
Clan Downie at La Verre Y Table, Jarnac
Steph's Barbel - Juac Bridge, August 2015
Dad and signature bumblebee hat paddling in the Charente
Blue artichokes from Ambre, Cognac
Steph at Maurice's (Cafe du Theatre, Jarnac)
Ali's "Halloween Cafe Gourmand"
Le Globe, Cognac
Steph aboard "Hypotenuse" Easter 2016
Paul and Steph in the Vineyards at St Meme August 2016
Dad and Lad on the Quais de Juac August 2016
Next door at No 7 with lovely Mike and Bea
Team Sadler at Le Bolthole
Anne-Cecile and Raphaelle aboard Hypotenuse on the Charente at Juac
Chris and Steph mucking about on the Charente
Mrs Sadler relaxing on the river
Ali and Raphaelle at Pont de Juac
Paul, Graham and Dad at the bar in St Meme les Carrieres
La Famille Franglaise at Christiane's new apartment in Saintes
Bring me sunshine in your smile,
Bring me laughter all the while.....
Photos of Le Bolthole before and during renovation by Robert Vanniers of Paris circa 1995