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La Maison de Maitre makes an ideal base for discovering the stunning Lot et Garonne region of South West France, and close enough for the sites on the neighbouring Dordogne and Bordeaux regions.
Steeped in history and tradition with countless picturesque bastide/fortified towns, beautiful undulating countryside (dubbed the French ‘Tuscany’), and not forgetting the delicious Gascon cuisine.
Locally available activities
- Cycle hire
- Canoeing/boat trips along the river
- Microlite flights
- Childrens activities and theme parks
- Horse riding
- Antique fayres
- Weekly markets
- Fine dining
- Wine tasting
- Sight seeing: chateaux, churches, underground grottos, water lily centre
- Some of the many local bastide towns include: Pujols, Penne d’Agenais, Monflanquin, Tournon d’Agenais, Fumel, Duras, Nerac and Bergerac.
The local 13th century bastide town of Sainte Livrade-sur-Lot is less than 5 minutes’ drive away, and offers all the services one could wish for; excellent bakeries, two supermarkets, newsagent, pharmacy, estate agents, hairdressers, doctor, banks, post office, tourist office, coffee shops and restaurants including a particularly fine one overlooking the river. On Friday mornings’ the open-air market provides a colourful experience of French life, with local regional produce and delicious treats!
The nearby historic town of Villeneuve-sur-Lot is a short 15 minute’s drive away, and boasts the most restaurants and pavement cafes in the whole region! One also finds much more in the way of amenities with fashion boutiques, jewellers, antique shops, estate agents, some larger supermarkets and main post office. Market days are Tuesday and Saturday mornings, held in the open air at the main central square, spilling out into the neighbouring streets, and inside at the old covered market hall. Well worth a visit.
Agen is the capital of the region and can be found 30 minutes away by car nestled on the banks of the river Garonne. From here you can catch flights to Paris and rail links to Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux, or spend time sightseeing and shopping in the bustling high street with its varied selection of cafes, restaurants and boutiques, which even includes one small department store!
Wine Tasting in the Region
‘Buzet’ territory, half hour drive west, very nice wine! www.vignerons-buzet.fr visit the cellar and free wine tasting with the possibility to organise visits to the individual vineyards. See leaflets
‘Duras’ territory, half hour drive north, also very nice wine! Domaine de Durand: Voted ‘best site for Bordeaux wine tourism’ Visit to the cellar and free wine tasting plus the possibility of a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards! The day starts at 7-7.30am. The hot air balloon flight is 1-1.30 hours with a tour guide in English. Lunch is provided, then wine tasting and you get a certificate at the end to commemorate your flight. Expensive but an unforgettable experience about 230 euros person.
Also Domaine Chater: Award winning wines, visits to the vineyards, cellar and free wine tasting. Open most afternoons in high season.
‘Bergerac’ territory, 40 minutes drive north, great wine as well. www.chateau-monbazillac.com beautiful renaissance chateau well worth a visit with stunning views across the vineyards plus free wine tasting. (Paid visit).
‘Agenais’ territory. Closer to home, less than 10 minutes drive. www.lougaillot.com Nice local small producer, Mr + Mrs Pons, are very friendly and helpful. Visit the vinyards + free wine tasting. Open all year 9am–7pm. Closed Wednesdays and lunchtimes 12–2pm. In July/August also open Sundays 10am–12.30pm.
If you speak French, another vineyard to visit about 20 minutes away near Penne D’Agenais one can discover www.cotes-des-oliviers.fr A small independent producer of wine, prunes and nuts. The owner is very friendly and is proud to show visitors around his vineyard + processing plant and explain how it’s all done. He will also show you around the plum orchards and prune drying process. He has a little shop where you can do free wine tasting and purchase his local products. The sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne method is simply delicious!
‘Saint Emilion’, an hour and a half drive away www.visite-saint-emilion.com What better way to discover the most famous territory of the Bordeaux wine region than by taking the 35 minute tourist train around the vineyards, historic chateaux, mediaeval sites and wine tasting. The train departs at 10.30am, 11.15am, 12pm, 2pm, 2.45pm 3.30pm, 4.15pm, 5pm, 5.45pm and 6.30pm. With a 1hr 20min option to visit the monolithic caves of one of the chateaux with wine tasting. Adults 6 euro, children 5 euro. The town of Saint Emilion is a fascinating UNESCO world heritage site. Wander around the narrow + steep cobbled streets, Romanesque churches, ruins and artisans shops + cafes.
Ideas For Children
Walibi Theme Park is a childrens’ theme park packed with rides and activities for kids of all ages. Merry-go-rounds, tea cup rides, water slides, roller coasters, mini trains, electric cars, water maze, musical fountains, animations, sea lion show. Free entry for children under 4 yrs, mothers-to-be, wheelchair users and those with impared vision, around 20 euros for children from age 4, and around 22 euros adults + over 12’s. Around 50 minutes’ drive, near Agen. www.walibi-aquitaine.fr
Z’Animoland is an animal fun park with over a hundred domestic, farm animals as well as exotic animals and birds such as camels, llamas and peacocks to meet close up + even pet. Children can stroke little baby pigs, goats, lambs and fluffy chickens. A wonderful experience for little ones, especially at feeding time. There is a picnic area, snack bar, bouncy castle, inflatables and wooden games park, go carts, water jets and 7 acres of parkland. www.z-animoland.com Open from April to November on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, in June/July/August open every day and in September/October/November open Saturdays from 10am – 7pm. About 20 minutes’ drive away.
Activities for all
Water Sports Spend an enjoyable couple of hours at the faux beach on the riverside at Castlemoron-sur-Lot where it is possible to hire pedalos, canoes, hydroplanes, kayaks + motor boats. Open from mid June to beginning September every day from 10am–7pm. It is advisable to hire in advance during July/August. Driving licence required as ID. 0675289269 www.nautilius.fr 15 minutes’ drive away.
Messing about on the water You can also hire electric boats, pedalos, canoes and row boats from Le Base Nautique de L’Aviron by the riverside at Villeneuve-sur-Lot, Quai d’Alsace, left bank. Open in June by reservation 0033 553491827 / 0033 607621912 Open in July + August + September every day from 10am – 6pm. (Closed for lunch in September from 12pm –2pm. Plus Wednesday evenings until 9pm. 15 minutes’ drive away.
Cruise down the river Baise from Nerac on board a superb wooden barge, the ‘Prince Henry’ built on a traditional 18th century design. Spend an hour enjoying the scenery along the river Baise which has been navigated since the 13th century. Journey through the lock ‘Nazareth’, pass under the roman bridge, and visit the former residence of King Henry IV of England. Adults around 8,00 €, Children (4-12 years): around 5,50 €, Children under 4 free. Open April and October (Sundays and holidays): 15h00-16h30. May, June and September (everyday): 15h00-16h30. July and August (everyday): 11h00*-15h00-16h30-17h30 www.croisieresduprincehenry.com
Walking or cycling the green routes 11 kilometres of walking + cycling routes from Casseneuil to Villeneuve-sur-lot crossing the countryside and taking in the heritage, nature + local culture. Surface perfect for push chairs. A further 4 kilometres of green routes follows the path of the old railway from Sainte Livrade-sur-Lot to Temple-sur-Lot. Look out for the signs for ‘Voie Verte’.
La Maison de Maitre itself is also on one of the many rambling routes (for all abilities) in the region. Maps provided in your suite.
Bike Hire We can organise bikes for all ages, plus baby seats and trailers to be delivered direct to you at La Maison de Maitre for as little as 1 day or a week. Helmets provided. It is advisable to book ahead for July/August.
Monkey walk in the trees Fun adventure park in the forest. Tree walking for children from 3 years old. Various activities graded by age and difficulty all secured by a safety harness. Trapeze, tightrope, rope bridge, net bridge, tube tunnel, swing bridge, climbing. Other activities also available are pony rides (children from 3 years old), horse riding, archery, paint balling, bike hire, canoeing (children from 6 years old), beach volley ball, petanque, play ground, picnic area. Access to the park is free. See leaflet for tariffs and opening times. Open from April – 1st November. 45 minutes’ drive south west at Barbaste. www.cap-cauderoue.com 0033 553655274 / 0033 648166090
There is a similar adventure park in the forest at Lacapelle-Biron, 40 minutes’ drive north east from here. Tree walking for children from 3 years old. Various activities graded by age and difficulty all secured by a safety harness. Plus mini golf, disc (frisbee) golf, rope climbing pyramid, natural swimming pool (don’t forget your swimmies!) See leaflet for tariffs and opening times. Open from 7th April to end September. www.parc-en-ciel.com
Underground grottos. Visit one of the fascinating underground grottos of Lastournelle or Fontirou. Grottes des Lastournelle - www.Grotte-de-Lastournelle.fr - are open all year in the afternoons, and from 10am-6pm from July 1st-August 31st. A 300 metre circuit takes you through 7 ‘rooms’ of wells, colomns, statues and spring. Please note the entry steps are quite steep and you may need a sweater as it’s quite a bit cooler underground. There is a picnic spot available outside too. Situated just 5 minutes’ drive away, turn right out of La Maison and continue straight on until you see a large space rocket (don’t ask me why!) on the left at Sainte-Colombe-de-Villeneuve.
Grottes du Fontirou www.grottes-fontirou.com again has 7 fascinating ‘rooms’ to discover underground, a picnic area outside plus mini-golf. Caves + mini golf are open from 1st May – 30th June in the afternoons, July + August from 10am – 6pm (closed lunch time from 12:30 – 2pm), September + October in the afternoons after 2pm. 20 minutes’ drive.
Gourmet Night Markets & Events During the summertime (normally July + August only) gourmet markets are a wonderful evening out where you can sample regional cooked dishes typical of the Gascony and Occitan region, as well as the French classics and of course chips! Food, wine and craft stalls are set out around a courtyard with trestle tables and chairs and often accompanied by bands and concerts. They are set in various villages on different nights of the week.
Gardens Visit the water lily gardens of Latour Marliac at Temple sur Lot - www.latour-marliac.com - and discover the European coloured water lilies that were 1st developed here and which inspired Monet’s most famous paintings. Open from 10am-6pm. With café/bistro and gift shop on site. (15 minutes’ drive, direction Bordeaux).
Visit the remarkable suspended gardens of Marqueyssac at Vezac, near Sarlat - marqueyssac.com. Set upon a spur of chalk cliffs, 130 metres above the Dordogne River, these gardens planted with dozens of thousands of box plants, are designed for walking with spectacular view points. There are various walks suitable for different ages and abilities. There is also small chateau to visit, a tea room/restaurant and an excellent gift/bookshop. Open 10am-7/8pm. 0553313636 (1 ¾ hour drive) Every Thursday evening in July/Aug from 7pm-midnight they have magical candlelit night time walks.
Chateaux Visit the medieval Chateau de Bonaguil classed as one of Frances Historic Monuments of the 13th-18th C. Open every day. The walk up to the chateau-fort is a little steep but there are lots of interesting little artisanal shops where you can pause to browse or buy an ice cream. My favourite is a little pottery shop and tea room run by Marlyse who makes the most wonderful simple little pots and bowls with good prices. Mention us if you buy something! (50 minutes’ drive).
Visit the market and the famous Chateau de Duras with its 17th + 18th century architecture and stunning panoramic views + wine tasting. Open 10am-7pm. (40 minutes’ drive).