Le Bolthole at Juac

Welcome to our beautiful home in the sunny Charente

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 Fins Bois 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).

La Cuisine

There is a cool SONOS and 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.

Les Vignerons

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).

Claude Bonnier

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.     

Les Gabarrieres

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 Super-U 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!)

Premiere Etage

Les Carrieres

There are hospitals in Cognac and Chateauneuf and 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 and the old Mill, enjoy the calm, beauty 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 La Comedie (formerly the Cafe du Theatre with the likeable Fred 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. Pricey and can be a bit stuffy.

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 Thomas Hine, Tiffon-Braastad, 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. The relatively smaller Hine and Braastad houses also give great local tours. 

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 lunch in the courtyard at L'Atelier near the bridge and at the Coq D'Or on the main square. The walk  along the quayside in front of Hennessy is lovely and there is often an evening Citroen HY Pierrot crinkly van by the marina for very tasty burgers et frites (order ahead as it gets busy in the Summer)   

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 used to get 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. There is a small bar in the main square opposite the Church and Museum which doubles up as the Post Office 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

August 2011

Mom at Ile Madam, Port des Barques

Aug 2011

Boing! Boing! (explanations available) from Steph and Sam 

Ali and Sandrine at Bourg-Charente Primary School

Aug 2012

Paul at "Maurice's" (Cafe du Theatre), Jarnac

Easter 2013

Chris, Ali and Steph in Cognac

Easter 2013

Dad - Vibrac Nursery

May 2013

Dad and Lad - a nice bag of roach, bream and carp under the bridge at Juac

Aug 2013

Puncture repairs - Dad, Ali, Sam and Alfie

Aug 2013

Coleen, Dad, Sam and Alfie - La Chabourne, St Simon - Aug 2013 

Sam on the little bridge at Jarnac

October 2013

Sam and Aunty Seal - Saintes

August 2012

Sam and skate mate, Grape, Cognac

Oct 2013

La Famille Franglaise at Chateau des Enigmes, Pons

Oct 2013

Coleen (Murder in Law) and Steph

Jarnac Aug 2013

Sam at St Meme les Carrieres skate park

Oct 2013

Paul at The Globe, Cognac

Easter 2014

Steph and Ali at The Globe

Easter 2014

Ali, Paul and Chris on the little bridge at Bassac

Easter 2014

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

Easter 2014

The Deville et Cie Hiver

Easter 2014

Steph on the little bridge at Bassac

Easter 2014

Cheers! from Ali and Steph at the Auberge de Conde, Bassac

Easter 2014

Dad - lunch at the Auberge de Conde

Bassac May 2014

La Famille Franglaise at 77 Heath Street, Stourbridge

July 2014

Waiting for the Tour de Poitou-Charente with Juli-Anne, Katie and Holly at St Meme

Aug 2014

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

Aug 2014

The Franglaise Family at Saintes

Aug 2014

Sam, Grandad Baggie and Steph on the Gabarre

Aug 2014

Yann and Sam - skate dudes

Clos de Flandres, Saintes Aug 2014

Ali and Sam - Auchan, Cognac

October 2014

Ali and Sam at Rouillac

October 27 2014

Steph and Ali

Halloween October 2014

Dad's 90th Birthday at the Albion v Palace
October 2014

Steph, Chris and Paul at La Ribaudiere, Bourg Charente

Easter 2015

La Ribaudiere, Bourg

Easter 2015

La Famille Franglais

Le Globe, Cognac

Easter 2015

Chris and Ali in the courtyard
Easter 2015

Gout du Jour, St Meme with the Downies

Easter 2015

Paul and Steph

Cafe du Theatre, Jarnac (Maurice's)

Easter 2015

Ali in the courtyard

Easter 2015

Dad tucks into Steph's "Sausage Surprise" alfresco tea

May 2105

Dad's Cafe Gourmand

May 2015

Steph's big Bream

May 2015

Dad and Lad

Rouillac Market August 2015

Coleen, Dad and Ali at Bassac

August 2015

Christiane, Dad, Anne-Cecile, Coleen

Saintes - August 2015

Clan Downie at La Verre Y Table, Jarnac

August 2015

Steph's Barbel - Juac Bridge, August 2015

Dad and signature bumblebee hat paddling in the Charente
August 2015

Blue artichokes from Ambre, Cognac

October 2015

Steph at Maurice's (Cafe du Theatre, Jarnac)

October 2015

Ali's "Halloween Cafe Gourmand"

Le Globe, Cognac

October 2015

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

August 2018

Team Sadler at Le Bolthole

August 2018

Anne-Cecile and Raphaelle aboard Hypotenuse on the Charente at Juac

August 2018

Chris and Steph mucking about on the Charente

August 2018

Mrs Sadler relaxing on the river

August 2018

Ali and Raphaelle at Pont de Juac

August 2018 

Paul, Graham and Dad at the bar in St Meme les Carrieres

August 2018

La Famille Franglaise at Christiane's new apartment in Saintes

August 2018 

A bientôt

Bring me sunshine in your smile,

Bring me laughter all the while.....

(for Mom)

Please check back later for new updates to our website at www.lebolthole.co.uk

Photos of Le Bolthole before and during renovation by Robert Vanniers of Paris circa 1995