Two family days around Aulnay-de-Saintonge

You’re away for a family weekend in Charente-Maritime; what would you say to a break based in Aulnay-de-Saintonge? 

This delightful little town, situated on one of the pilgrims’ ways to Saint James of Compostella has a wealth of heritage and fun activities for parents and children alike to enjoy together.  There are more than enough suggestions to create your dream visit in this peaceful, green area!

Day 1 – Artistic and animal-lover adventures and a Romanesque epic

Get close and personal to “Rasta donkeys”! at Dampierre-sur-Boutonne, at the forest’s edge.  The whole family will appreciate this delightful setting in a protected natural area of 55ha: the “Asinerie du Baudet du Poitou”, home to fun and educational activities and for major events.

In your own time, go for a stroll with donkeys from the oldest breed in France (the Baudet du Poitou), recognisable by their long, tangled coats.  A guide will accompany you to different parts of the park and show you the safeguarding programme.  Stroke the baby donkeys with their soft, silky coats playing in their paddocks.  All the family will enjoy a ride in a carriage in the surrounding woods and share in caring for these docile, lovable animals.
ânes baudet du poitou

The morning’s over but the kids want more?  OK.  Go for a 3km walk around the Sanctuary’s farm with a guide and in the company of a saddled donkey, a real “cuddly toy on hooves” who will happily transport the picnic you’ve brought with you.  And if you fancy going elsewhere, only 10km separate you from Salles-lès-Aulnay, a hamlet near Aulnay-de-Saintonge where you can picnic in the bucolic setting of its ancient wash house beside the river Brédoire.

Solving puzzles and exploring heritage

The afternoon is for a world of fantasy – Tèrra Aventura.  Parents will rediscover their inner child while the young ones will throw themselves body and soul into this online treasure hunt.  Become the adventurous pilgrim Zacquet and set off for the conquest of the site of the church of Saint-Pierre, a masterpiece of Romanesque art registered on UNESCO’s Way of St James world heritage programme and of the village of Aulnay-de-Saintonge a medieval and artistic jewel.

This new 3km geocaching trail involves searching for and collecting the famous Poï’z and will unite the whole family.  Two hours of action and exploration of history and heritage while having fun!

On summer afternoons you can take part in a guided visit of the church of St Pierre, with its wealth of history engraved in stone.  Whether they are storytelling or searching for mysterious creatures, these family activities are fun, participatory and instructive.

The church and medieval-themed garden can be visited at other times of the day.  The youngest amongst you will enjoy the sensory guided walk that has been especially created for them.

More info on the activities and events on our site!

First steps in the art world …

Spending time in the architectural past of Aulnay will give you the desire to put your artistic talents to work.  Artisans who share a trade and a unique know-how where precision is essential are waiting to meet you!

At Gilles Laroche’s workshop, parents and children alike can express their creativity and skill during an initiation session that involves sculpting a scallop shell or a flora or fauna-based pattern on wood.  And the reward for your finished work of art is?  Pride of place among the souvenirs in your suitcase that you take back from your family weekend in Vals de Saintonge!  The first day is now drawing to a close and an evening of culinary delights in a family restaurant in Aulnay awaits …

Day 2 – Visit a cultural site and have fun with art …

On the Treasures of Saintonge road.

Head once more to Dampierre-sur-Boutonne but this time to the heart of this village of some 200 people with its château open to the curious and to strollers. An astonishing blend of Italian villa and Renaissance château, this architectural jewel is set in a meander of the Boutonne on five little islands.  Don’t miss the gallery with its unique alchemic décor or the more fun aspects such as the boxwood maze and trails.


There’s a quiz for all the family based on the château, the park, the gardens, the poplar grove and the former stables.  Solving puzzles will make your trainee little explorers real experts on heritage and real or fabled animals!

Unspoiled and ideal for artists, the chirping of birds and the murmuring of the water are the background to a thoughtful break during your picnic.





Relive the school of yesteryear

After lunch and just 10km further you’ll be at Vergné.

As soon as you arrive at the Musée Départemental de l’École Publique, set in the former village school, you’ll find yourselves in a classroom from years ago.

Your guide will retell the amazing story of this place with more than 7,000 objects, items of furniture, educational material and books of the period recreated by “people” who made up the single class at the end of the 19th century.

Children will react with amusement.  Gustave, the smiling young teacher in his black smock counting on the big abacus, Firmin who is carrying a log to the stove and placing his lunchbox on it, Victoire who is wearing proudly her merit badge for having been a polite and hard-working pupil …

With a “Sergent Major” pen and purple ink – here’s all the family ready to write down the moral of the day.  Don’t be afraid of getting a dunce’s cap, you’ll earn a point even if you blot your copy!

After this unusual step back in time, the picnic area and games beside the museum are ideal for an open-air break or a snack before setting off for Bernay-Saint-Martin, just 8km away.

Creative freedom

Agnès Cacchioli, a ceramist, welcomes visitors, young or old, to her workshop “L’Atelier Sauvaget” to enjoy numerous activities both creative and sensorial.

A great way to wake up your tastebuds!  End the day and your Saintonge adventure by choosing to dine in a gastronomic, authentic restaurant at Saint-Félix, 5km.  Vals de Saintonge is full of treasures to discover and varied activities to share as a family.  To enjoy to the full, ask for the “Carte Famille Val’Idées”, the perfect, indispensable companion to enjoy our numerous special offers and great ideas!

Whether it’s pottery or sculpture, all the family can get their hands in the clay.  Depending on their age, your children can learn pottery techniques, including barbotine and modelling.

The whole family can create, in turns, with or without a blindfold, a collective piece of work.  A magic, creative moment that will surprise you, a really memorable afternoon!