Electricity is included in the rental for La Petite Gravelle in the Summer Season. For other seasons it is metered seperately and charged at cost. Shopping
There are supermarkets, service stations, banks and most facilities and services at St Jean d'Angély, about 10 minutes away. Supermarkets in our area are usually open from 0900 to 2000 Monday to Saturday and the larger ones (Intermarché, LeClerc, Lidls,) do not close for lunch.
Most other shops shut from 1200 to 1400. The supermarkets are usually busy on Fridays and Saturday afternoons - the quietest times are all day Monday and any lunchtime.
Very few shops are open on Sunday although there are now a few supermarkets open until about mid-day (Intermarché in St Jean and Aulnay, Super-U in Matha) There are details and directions in the welcome pack in the Gite.
One delightful introduction to our area would be a short Sunday morning trip to Aulnay - where there is an open Intermarché supermarket on the outskirts and a great fresh food market, warm bread from the boulangerie and a pavement café in the market square.
Debit and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, often for quite small amounts. European cards need a PIN and American cards can be 'swiped'.
Fuel - and other vehicle matters
The nearest service station for fuel are in St Jean d'Angély, about 10km away. The closest and with easiest access and usually the cheapest fuel is at LeClerc on the roundabout on the St Jean by-pas. LeClerc supermarket. LPG for vehicles is available at their other station behind the supermarket.
Most supermarkets now have a 24-hour automated credit/debit card service (also often the only ones available from 1200 to 1400) and both UK debit and credit cards will work if they are 'chip and pin'. American cards do not normally work where a PIN is required (at automated pumps), but will function where they can be 'swiped' at attended pumps.
Both petrol and diesel are cheaper in France than the UK, but much more expensive than the USA, with diesel being cheaper than petrol by about 20 centimes/litre.
In the unlikely event of car problems there are most main dealer garages at St Jean d'Angély or nearby Saintes or Cognac and there are several tyre and parts centres in St Jean. We also have a traditional local garage in the next village at Varaize where Monsieur Beaubeau can diagnose and fix almost everything.
If you want to clean your car during your stay we have hoses, shampoo and chamois on hand.
Parking and access
Car parking is on a very large grassy area outside the Gite, with straightforward access whatever the size or type of vehicle. We can make space in our covered barn for motorcycles or for classic cars visiting for the Angouleme event. Please call or email if you have any questions.
There is free WiFi throughout the Gite on a secure network - the network key is included in the Information Folder awaiting you on arrival. There is a strong WiFi signal covering the whole Gite and courtyard for Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones.
Our internet connection is normally perfectly acceptable, but our connection can fail
occasionally and we cannot therefore guarantee 100% connectivity for business use
As all of our wiring is to French normes all of our outlets are for French (and universal European) plugs. The French mains supply is the same as the UK and all English equipment will function normally. US equipment however uses a different voltage and may need a special converter.
Naturally all of our supplied equipment (kettle, toaster, hair drier etc) has suitable French plugs but we also provide a six-outlet 'plugboard' for UK equipment which is suitable for your camera, laptop, phone chargers etc. Unless you have very specialised needs French/English adaptors are unlikely to be needed.
Electric heaters are provided on the ground and first floors (in addition to the log-burner) but are unlikely to be needed during most Spring, Summer and Autumn season holidays.
For lets other than in the Summer Season electricity is metered and charged at cost (€5 minimum), but we provide a starter pack of logs, kindling, firelighters and matches for the log-burning stove. Further supplies are readily available at local supermarkets or at cost from our own bulk stock.
La Gravelle is a tiny, traditional French hamlet with a population of less than 20 people who make up a friendly, helpful community. La Petite Gravelle is not part of a Gite 'complex' and is the only Gite in the immediate area.
It is believed that most of the buildings in the hamlet date from the 1700s, although one may date from the end of the 1600s and another is thought to be a 'late' addition in the 1800s. There are a couple of the usual 'romantic ruins' but in general the hamlet is in the hands of owners who care about its history, tradition and appearance and who are working hard to preserve it.
The area is very rural and agricultural and tractors seem as common as cars. The traditional Sunflower (tournesol) crop floods the countryside with vivid yellow flowers in the height of the summer and there are vineyards wherever you look, but impressive fields of tall, golden waving maize, almost flourescent yellow oilseed rape and occasional vivid blue flax add to the colour palette. There are many vineyards around the hamlet, and Eric Cartaud produces a very nice local wine and Pineau available at his home and small shop just a short stroll away.
Our hamlet is too small to support its own cafe/bar but you'll find a good choice at St Jean d'Angély, Matha and Aulnay with a selection of restaurants ranging from traditional French, through excellent Breton Crepes to Pizzas and Chinese. The nearby village of Paillé has a small bar and cafe with tables on the village green which is popular with the locals. The lunches in particular are excellent and very good value. All are 10-15 minutes away, but don't forget that 10 minutes driving in France is nothing like the UK - on a busy day you'll see, maybe, two cars while driving from Paillé or Aulnay to the Gite.