By Rhonda Carrier
With its creamy stone walls and painted wooden shutters, Les Orangeries couldn’t look more French. Inside it’s the same – neatly uniformed maids with armfuls of fresh linen moving discreetly amidst country chic interiors including exposed-stone walls and flagstone or polished wooden floors.
'Classic but inherently child-friendly French fare such as fish quenelles went down well with all of us, including baby Ethan; dishes make ample use of ingredients from the hotel’s kitchen garden or sourced from local producers.'
We found ourselves here for our first wedding anniversary, having looked for somewhere stylish and ‘special occasion’ within easy reach of our house in the Charente-Maritime. Crucially, it also had to be child-friendly given that we would be celebrating with our 11-month-old son in tow.
The location – the small provincial town of Lussac-les-Châteaux in western France – did seem a little ‘middle of nowheresville’, although Futuroscope themepark is less than a 40-minute drive away, as is the wonderful city of Poitiers.
But in truth we wanted little more than to chill out in a lovely place with our son. It was August and a heatwave, so most of our time was spent in the hotel’s gorgeous garden with its sparkling swimming pool, its old-fashioned games including pétanque, quilles and croquet, and its hammocks. Had the weather been less kind, there’s a vast wooden-beamed attic room with more retro games and lots of space to play and spread out in.
In weather so fine, dinner was served outdoors, on a delightful terrace. Classic but inherently child-friendly French fare such as fish quenelles went down well with all of us, including baby Ethan; dishes make ample use of ingredients from the hotel’s kitchen garden or sourced from local producers. Service was exceptionally slow on the evening we ate there, but that may have been a blip; in any event, the food was worth the wait.
We took a double room with a cot, but there are also suites sleeping three, four or even five people, making this a great option for all kinds of family. It's also great for those looking for a green place to stay with kids – it was the first hotel in France to be awarded the Eco-label Européen.
Having only stayed for a couple of nights, we wished we’d booked for longer and vowed to return one day. Indeed, many of those who stay here are only using it as a stopver - it’s well placed for breaking journeys between parts of the South of France and some of the Channel ports. If you do so, however, you may also find yourselves wishing you were staying much longer.
Find out more about family holidays in the Poitou-Charentes.