No 8, Résidence Horizon - Notes for Visitors
Table of Contents
Bed linen - sheets, duvet covers & pillowcases. There is, one king size duvet, a double blanket and a double quilt. The pillows are all rectangular (UK style).
Towels & Tea Towels
Phone Card The telephone number, 05 46 23 07 41 (or 00 33 5 46 23 07 41) from the UK) is for all incoming calls and for outgoing local calls, so guests can book restaurants, enquire as to whether various attractions are open, etc. Local calls extend as far as La Rochelle and Saintes. If dialling out with a BT Chargecard, dial 0800 99 02 44 first. There is an answering service which visitors may use. but please do not change the message. To access messages dial 3103.
Wifi connection The code for Wifi is on the bottom of the ‘livebox’ which is on the floor by the TV cupboard. It is the long series of letters and numbers broken up into groups of 4.
Binoculars - to look at the passing boats, etc.
Electric plug adapters for any UK equipment you bring with you (eg radio, electric hair things, etc.). If you have an electric shaver or electric toothbrush, you will also need a shaver point adaptor because the shaver point in the bathroom is for a standard continental plug. Note - some electrical equipment is supplied (see below).
Beach Footwear - the limestone rocks opposite the apartment are quite sharp so a pair of suitable synthetic sandals is useful, especially with thick rubber soles. You can buy just the thing locally in St Palais.
Tea bags - If you like strong tea, you might have difficulty finding a brand to suit your taste locally. However, other British visitors tend to bring more than they need so there is usually a stock of bags in one of the containers.
Some items that you might think to bring are available in the apartment for the use of tenants. These include 2 folding beach chairs, 2 sun loungers for use on terrace only, a small aluminium & plastic parasol light enough to carry to the beach, a picnic cool box, a hair-drier, an electric iron, a TV which plays DVD’s, CD's.
See inventory for full list of apartment contents.
Parking: Reserved parking is in space number 10.
Front Door: Unlocking is straightforward (To lock, first lift the handle upwards and then turn key.) If the lock becomes difficult, spray it with lock oil (found in the bathroom cupboard).
Electricity: The metal fuse box is on the wall by the entrance door. If the electricity has been switched off, you will need to turn on the main switch and the switches on the fuses for both Heating and Hot Water (labelled). The latter is best set on night (a moon symbol) unless you are using a lot of hot water during the day in which case switch temporarily to day (a sun symbol). The night time rate (22.30 - 06.30) is almost half the price of the daytime rate.
There are spare fuses in a bottle in this cupboard. Spare light bulbs are in the bathroom cupboard. Should anyone need access to the mains control and meter, this is situated in the second cupboard from the right, next to the water cupboard downstairs (see below).
Unless there are visitors expected within a day or two of the previous tenants, the fridge is normally defrosted, left empty and switched off with the door open.
The three wall heaters, if required, have both an on/off switch (I/O) and a thermostat control. When the heater is activated, a tiny red light can be seen behind the controls.
There are two black folders containing instructions for all appliances in the pine cupboard.
Water: If the water is off, there is a small tap to the LHS of the base of the hot water tank in the cupboard and another on to the cistern of the toilet. If there is still no water, then the mains has been turned off.
The mains stopcock is located in the third cupboard from the left at the bottom of the stairs. You need a screwdriver (there is one in the fuse box cupboard) to open the door. The tap and meter are clearly marked as No 8.
If there is a stale water/drains smell on entering the apartment, this is almost certainly because water in a u-bend below the water tank has dried out. To replenish the u-bend and eliminate this problem, open the tap below the tank briefly.
The water is quite “hard “ - if the kettle thermostat cuts out too soon, the kettle needs de-scaling. Use 500 - 1000cc of ordinary white vinegar for this, not other proprietary chemicals. There is usually a bottle under the sink.
Visitors’ Folders: These envelope folders contain a copy of these notes, an inventory, various guides, loads of brochures and maps and a copy of the current tide tables. Please leave all these for the benefit of other visitors.
Inventory: Please advise immediately if anything significant is broken or missing.
(Tel nos. 05 46 23 xx xx unless stated otherwise)
Across the road is “Les Viviers Charentais” which sells excellent fresh seafood (prepared as a take-away) as well as other items. Adjacent to this they have a stall selling sandwiches and hot and cold snacks to take away. In the winter they are only open at the weekends. There is also a bread shop called Vincent that is open May to September opening times vary. There are other seasonal shops nearby.
Out of season you will need to go into St. Palais (about 1¼ miles) where there are plenty of shops including a good self-service store called “Casino” which is like a mini supermarket. The market is open every day (even in winter) from 9am - 1pm selling the best local produce, including fresh seafood. The best days are usually Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday
Cooking facilities in the kitchenette are limited which provides an ideal excuse for the “cook” to take advantage of the many low cost take-away opportunities. As well as “Les Viviers” and the snack bar opposite, there are several small shops in St. Palais selling hot and cold take-away snacks. Our favourite, for roast chicken, is “Rotisserie Saintongeaise” (Tel 11 99).
The nearest supermarket is SUPER-U on the north side of St. Palais (just over a mile away via the D141), which we find adequate for most items. INTERMARCHÉ on this side of Royan at Vaux is cheaper and more comprehensive and LECLERC on the Saintes road out of Royan is bigger again. All are well signposted.
Royan (~3km) is a fairly big town with a very large selection of shops and excellent market.
(Tel nos. 05 46 23 xx xx unless stated otherwise).
Le Skoubi Do Restaurant: Very convenient, just next door to the apartment At peak times you may need to book. It as now become rather up market creperie. (Tel 99 70).
Le Cordouan. This is a bit further along towards the Plage de la grand Côte. Very pleasant and welcoming with good value menu and sea views.
Le Petit Poucet: Located about half a mile away up the coast, adjacent to the Plage de la Grand Côte, this is a Restaurant & Bar. Restaurant is highly recommended for a romantic evening watching the sun go down over the Bay of Biscay - best to book a window table (no. 27 is the most romantic!) in advance (Tel 20 48). Alternatively, you can watch the sun go down on the terrace with a cold beer or whatever.
By Plage de la Grand Côte there are other good eating-places open out of season. Chez Bruno (Tel 35 85) is good for snacks and Le Grand Large (Tel 43 62) has a good menu. Also with a good menu, Restaurant La Grande Côte (Tel 11 33) has interesting old photos showing its unique position before the last war. In the pine forest, a short distance along the road towards La Palmyre, Le Flandre, named after the wreck which can be seen off Plage de la Grande Côte at low tide, has an interesting interior design as well as good food.
Hotel Primavera: Also within walking distance, this is not cheap and you may need to book, but it is highly recommended for its views, food, wine list and genteel atmosphere. (Tel 20.35).
If you want simple inexpensive French meals within walking distance, Bar-Restaurant Le Courlay does a very good value 3 course lunch including red wine. Both bar & restaurant are very popular with locals, so if you are walking, book first (Tel 33 04). Also popular with the locals is the Bar du Marché in St Palais, which does a similar good value meal. You can bet on the horses there if that is your sport.
There are some nice little Crêperies in St. Palais; opposite the sea front are Les Quimperoises (Tel 28 41) and La Terrace (our favourite,Tel 25 94) and in the main street is another called Crêperie Port Dauphin (Tel 13 49). (For crêpe/gallette enthusiasts, Le YAMS opposite the casino in Pontaillac is recommended.)
The Nausica (Tel 14 78) has great views of the St. Palais bay, as does Chez Bob. The gourmet restaurant of Les Agapes (Tel 10 23) near the market is expensive.
A bit further on at Plage Nauzanne there are three restaurants. We have only tried La Nauzanne in the middle, which is fine for gallettes or salads. There are also lots of restaurants down the coast in Pontaillac (~2km) of which the best is probably La Jabotière (Tel 05 46 39 91 29), a gourmet restaurant on the beach next to the Casino.
If you are visiting the picturesque town of Mornac, a good Creperie we can recommend is Restaurant-Crêpërie Le Moulin, rue du Port (Tel 05 46 05 59 36). Also Le P’tit Phare just across the road which does good sea food. Further up the coast in Brouage the Comptoire du Nouveau Monde has fascinating décor as well as good food. In Saujon we can recommend Le Thermalia (Tel. 05 46 02 80 62) in Place de l’Eglise and also Le Charentais in Rue Eugéne Mousnier (05 46 02 88 09).. There is an excellent small restaurant in Breuillet called La Santonine, which definitely needs to be booked (Tel. 05 46 22 12 12) and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
For devotees of good fresh “fruits de mer” a visit to the village of L’Eguille sur Seudre is recommended where you can enjoy superb “huitres” or “soup de poisson” at the Hotel-Restaurant du Port (“Chez Nadine”) (Tel 05 46 22 83 13). Also in the port, La Cabane (Tel. 05 46 22 83 07) has a reasonable menu and a pleasant situation.
A little further north towards Le Gua in the salt marshes is the gourmet Le Moulin de Châlons (05 46 22 82 72), pricey but superb food.
Tourist Office: In St. Palais opposite “Gersoise” estate agents. Free maps of the area and other information, local events, entertainment, etc. We recommend you also ask for a tide table so that you can plan around high and low tides (the table is more accurate than the Tide Clock in the apartment and also gives the coefficients which determine the size of the tides). In season there is also an office by La Grande Côte.
Coastal Path: The path is opposite the apartment. A wonderful walk is to follow it all the way round to St. Palais. You pass first the “Puits de l’Auture” and then after the Plage du Platin, the “Pont du Diable”, spectacular natural forms eroded by the sea. If there is a swell and the tide is in, the result is amazing. Keep any small children under surveillance near these features when it is rough. To the North, the path takes you into the Forest adjacent to Plage de la Grand Côte.
Beaches: There are plenty of these. Within walking distance are Plage de la Grand Côte (enormous) and Plage du Platin (pretty, but beware submerged sharp rocks), both of which are supervised during the more popular parts of the year. The beach opposite the apartment (which disappears at high tide) is fine for paddling and sun bathing but is not recommended for swimming because of currents. However, quite a few of our guests swim there regularly and come back year after year! The rock pools are good fun.
Although these beaches are “clean”, large quantities of tree trunks and other debris are deposited at the high tide line by stormy weather in winter. Presumably these are carried out from the Dordogne and Garonne and make a walk along the shore interesting to say the least. The local authorities clean these up regularly.
Parc de Loisir: About a mile from the apartment, this has mini-golf, tennis, boating & fishing with walks around the very pretty lake.
Zoo: At La Palmyre to the North. It is said to be the best in France. It seems to be open all year between 09.00 and 12.00 and 14.00 - 18.00. I’m not a zoo fan but I took the grandchildren there in 2012 and was impressed. The kids liked it too. The sea lions are well worth watching
Golf Club and Equestrian Centre: The Golf Course plays really well, especially if you can hit straight. There are lots of mature trees and it is generally interesting and picturesque. It is open all year round with preferential green fees for the “Basse Saison” (12 November ‘98 to 14 March ‘99) and “Moyenne Saison” (mid March to end June and September to mid November). Food at the Golf Cub is also good (lunches only, best to book Tel 40 80).
We do not yet know much about the Equestrian Centre.
If you are interested in local history, a local author (Jean Nappé) has written “Histoire de SAINT-PALAIS-SUR MER”, ISBN 2-84327-020-0, available from the paper shop opposite La Gersoise (160FRF). You can read how the coastline has changed so dramatically since Roman times and about the landing of 2000 troops from British ships on the beach up the road on 8 April 1814. There is a prize for anyone who can tell us the origin of the name “Pointe de Terre-Nègre ou des Fourneaux”, the former name of the rocky outcrop on which Le Petit Poucet sits.
Phare de Cordouan: The visit to the famous 16th century Phare de Cordouan is really exciting. This is the lighthouse that you see from the terrace (there is also a large framed photograph of it in the bedroom). The construction took 27 years from 1584 to 1611. Originally it was a combined chapel, royal residence and fortress on a base 41 m in diameter on a small island (with dunes) in the estuary. Total height was 37 m. The “Appartement du Roi” is on the 1st floor and the chapel, “Notre Dame de Cordouan” (with stained glass windows), forms the second floor. Local stone was used and the effect on the cliffs can still be seen, e.g. at Pont de Diable. Its constructor, Charles de Foix died in 1602, before it was finished. In 1788 two more floors were added, doubling the height to 67.5 m. Two different boat firms sail from Royan harbour; days and times depend upon the tides (total trip takes up to 5 hours). You will get your legs wet up to your knees getting on and off the sand dunes so shorts are a good idea as is synthetic (i.e. sea-proof) footwear for the rocky bits. Take your own refreshments.
Chemin de fer touristique de la Seudre: This little tourist train runs (at a very leisurely pace!) from June to September from Saujon to La Tremblade and back. This is a very relaxing way to see the countryside, wildlife and famous oyster beds of the Seudre estuary and salt marshes. Time it so that you can have lunch in La Tremblade in one of the many excellent seafood restaurants. Some of the carriages are open so take a sun hat and sun cream. Also, we have been told by friends who have been on the train more recently than us that there is now a steam engine and the day they went they were showered with black smuts so beware. There should be a brochure in the Visitors Folder.
Fishing: The rocks and beach opposite are very popular with local fishermen
and deep sea fishing trips are possible from Royan.
Other Excursions: The 13th century Romanesque church at Vaux sur Mer (one of many in the area) is just a few miles away. The 12th century town of Talmont (~ 15 km south of Royan) is worth a visit - its pretty little streets contain lots of craft shops. Immediately to the south, near Barzan, is the impressive pre-historic and Gallo-Romanic site of Le Fâ. Mornac-sur-Seudres, a few kilometres north of St. Palais is also picturesque and full of local craft shops. There is a wonderful market at Saujon on the second Monday of each month which seems to occupy most of the town in the morning.
A bit further afield are Blaye (impressive fortress), the fortified town of Brouage, Saintes (capital of the Cognac area) as well as Cognac itself, many naval attractions and a “Transporter” bridge at Rochefort and the popular tourist island, Ile d’Oléron. Also at Rochefort, a visit to “La Cordèrie” is fascinating, a peculiarly long building where rope for the French navy was made using ingenious old machines. Nearby, they are reconstructing the famous ship of La Fontayne, “L’Hermione”, which played a key part in helping the American insurgents in their rebellion against the British crown – well worth a visit. They plan to sail the replica to Boston when it is finished.
You can also take the car ferry from Royan (“Le Bac” - a bit expensive) across to the famous Medoc vineyards and chateaux.
In season there are various boat trips in addition to the trip to the Phare de Cordouan described above - for information on these see brochures in Visitors’ Folder or ask at Tourist Office.
• Some emergency numbers: The Royan General Hospital is on the south side of Vaux-sur-Mer at 20 ave Saint Sordelin, Tel 05 46 39 52 52 (emergencies 05 46 39 52 18). There is a doctor’s surgery (Cabinet Seigneurin) not far from the pharmacie at 34 ave République in St Palais, Tel 05 46 23 20 79 and a dentist (Mestre) at 11 rue Henri Neaud, Tel 05 46 23 12 55. There is a more complete list of emergency numbers in the Visitors’ Folder.
• There is a large “wheelie-bin” on the road outside of Résidence Horizon for disposing of rubbish, etc. This is emptied frequently.
• Cleaning materials are in the cupboard under the sink. Please leave the apartment in the state that you found it (or if this was not wonderful, in the state you would like to have found it!)
• The Fridge defrosts automatically; the freezer compartment may need to be defrosted occasionally by turning the fridge off. The green cooler box (in the boot bench) can be used to store items cool, especially if a freezer pack is placed inside. It can also be thus used as extra storage for cold drinks, etc.
• The use of barbecues or camping gas appliances is forbidden by the Residents Association of Résidence Horizon.
• The roller-shutter blinds should not be closed too tightly and should not be operated at too great an angle to the vertical
•.The patio furniture may be inside if the apartment has been empty or in bad weather.
• Terrace Awning: This provides shade for the terrace in hot weather. The terrace faces southwest and is in direct sun most of the day. If the awning is let out before the sun heats up the terrace, it should remain relatively cool during the heat of midday and early afternoon. Furthermore, the awning traps in heat so that, should the evening get cool, it will still be comfortable to use the terrace for evening meals, drinks or just sitting watching the world go by. However, this is on the coast and, even in mid summer, there is always the possibility of a sudden change in the weather. Therefore, the awning must always be left in the closed position at night, at any time when there is a risk of strong winds or whenever you leave the apartment. To leave the awning out in strong winds would not only result in damage to the awning but could also pose a risk to other people and property. Turn the handle ant-clockwise to wind it out and clockwise to rewind it.
• To convert the Sofa-bed, just lift up and pull out the front. To convert back, lift up the front until it clicks and then simply push back, making sure the bar underneath locks.
• The internal walls are hollow and so make fixings difficult, please therefore avoid excessive pressure, especially to the towel rail.
• The Tide Clock on the corner shelf in the lounge is only accurate new moon to new moon. At other phases it can be out for up to 1½ hours but is still a useful indicator. Please do not attempt to adjust it.
• The electric air cooler has a compartment underneath for water which needs to be topped up from time to time and emptied before leaving if the apartment is going to be empty for any length of time. Freezer blocks can be put in the water to help make the air even cooler. The cooler needs to have air circulation all around. Full instructions are in one of the black folders.
There is an extra leaf for the dining table down the side of the large cupboard and the terrace table has an extra leaf tucked under the surface.
There is a spare door key in the top left hand drawer of the TV cupboard. Please leave behind.
• There are some decorative stickers at child height on the glass terrace sliding doors to help prevent accidents. Please do not remove these
• The nearest post-box is towards Plage de la Grande Côte. There is a Post Office in St. Palais, opposite the Tourist Office and the beach.
• You can contact me if you have any queries on 00 44 1291 627234 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please let me have any comments on or additions to these notes for the benefit of future visitors.
Visitors are expected to use their common sense and to be aware of any obvious hazards to be expected in a first floor apartment and in a seaside location. The following list of potential problems should be regarded as illustrative and is not intended to be comprehensive.
The steps leading to the apartment can be slippery in wet weather.
The “zebra” crossing is also slippery in wet weather!
The rocks opposite the apartment are very sharp.
Access can easily be gained to the roof below the terrace so make sure adventurous children are supervised. The brackets holding the tiles in place are quite sharp.
A child once broke the glass in the sliding terrace doors by running onto the terrace not realising that they were in the closed position.
Items left on the terrace in stormy or windy weather are liable to be damaged and create a dangerous situation if caught by a gust. Particular attention is drawn to the terrace awning (if in use), which must always be left in the closed position at night or when visitors are not in the apartment.
The toaster can be a fire risk and the sides are too hot to touch when it is in use, so it should not be placed against other items. Baguettes or other daily baked bread sticks are not suitable for toasting – they burn easily and if dry can catch fire! The best bread for toasting is “pain complète” or “pain six céreals”.
When replacing bulbs do not exceed maximum wattage (see chart enclosed with spare bulbs in bathroom cupboard). Some bulbs get very hot, especially the reading light on the upright lamp.
There is a normal power point in bathroom unit.
Cleaning materials under the sink are potentially hazardous and should be kept out of reach of children. The same applies to materials in the bathroom cupboard above the wash basin.
If other tenants are expected within the next few days you may leave the electricity and water turned on. Otherwise, if the apartment is to be left empty for an extended period, please turn off the electricity at the fuse box as well as the two fuse switches for hot water and heating. The water should be turned off at the base of the hot water tank and at the toilet cistern and in winter at the stopcock in the water cupboard downstairs.
Please leave fridge defrosted well before you leave if you think it is necessary.
In cold damp wintry weather, condensation can be a problem if the apartment has been left empty for some time. The building has a ventilation system that works best if all the internal doors are left open (ie bedroom, bathroom, cupboard and WC).
Our favourite route from Portsmouth to St Malo requires that we need a stopover on the return journey. Sometimes we stay there a few days – there are lots of places to visit within a short drive, not least Mont St Michel and many breathtaking prehistoric sites. There are plenty of good hotels in and around the city, our favourite is the Hotel Kyriad (formerly the Bleu Marine, tel. 02 99 56 09 26) which faces the beautiful Sillon beach. There are lots of good restaurants nearby.