Our Guests – POPSY charity small group holiday at Domaine du Sourire

29Jun

Woohoo, we survived our very first guests. A group booking filling all 4 of our gites. It was a challenging but wonderful experience which has inspired us right at the outset of our journey.

POPSY (parents of partially sighted youngsters) is a support group for parents and carers of youngsters who are blind, have ‘special needs’ and with life-limiting conditions. It was set up by Tymandra, mum to Arwen Poppy who has a “special” syndrome ‘Warburg Micro Syndrome’, an extremely rare genetic condition (only 1 in 230 million people in the world diagnosed so far). Tymandra says she set up the group to keep herself positive and as an attempt to empower others who may feel out of control or are not sure what to do next and who feel alone.
Tymandra tirelessly works hard to support families of children who are blind, have special needs or life limiting conditions as well as fundraising for and organising day trips, activities and holidays for families.

5 families and 2 bus drivers arrived on a Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining so they wasted no time in offloading their belongings, which believe me were extensive, and headed straight for the cool azure blue shimmering waters of the newly installed “heated” pool.

As they were splashing around and having the time of their lives I received a phone call from my friend in the neighbouring region of Charente to say a storm was heading our way. No sooner had I set the phone down and headed towards the pool to let the newly arrived guests know when the storm suddenly appeared out of nowhere and it really hit us. Parasols blew into the water, pool toys upped and away. As our guests quickly scampered to the safety of their dry and comfortable gites we sorted the pool and things getting well and truly soaked but thankfully managed to avoid being struck by lightning.

What a start to their week and what a start to our new life in “sunny” France.

 

Thankfully the sun did return, and our guests had some lovely outings including Brantôme, Oradour-sur-Glane and Aubterre-sur-Dronne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This group’s holiday and outings would not have been possible without the amazing JUMBALANCE a cross between a bus and ambulance. How the drivers, Brendan and Gary, managed to manoeuvre it along the, sometimes, very tight track roads in the Dordogne and through the tiny narrow streets of the French villages amazes me.  This amazing bus provides accessibility to people who may not otherwise be able travel. Visit their website and support them in this amazing job they do. www.jumbulance.org.uk

A full programme was organised with morning and afternoon activities as well as evening entertainment, we even managed to bag a celebrity to do the disco nights, we were thankful to Dawn Camilli one of the Candy Stripes (@frenchcandies- look them up on Facebook and Instagram) singers who lent us the lights and DJ’d for us. On rainy mornings the group were able to take advantage of the “games” room which converted to an activity hall by day and a disco by night. Activities included an art workshop and craft making. We arranged patisserie tasting, fromage tasting and a wine taster as well as Cognac v Armagnac, Cidre v Calvados and Fizz v Champagne evenings. We included a walking trip to a local dairy with ice cream tasting.

Disco Divas dancing the night away

Cidre or Calvados? a little tasting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French knitting with granny wendy

Lets do this inside it’s a bit chilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last day for this group was truly amazing as it was a special boy’s 9th birthday, he enjoyed a pool party, then some scrummy goodies and a fabulous cake baked by our local boulangerie and finished off with a BBQ. The sun shone marvellously that day and a fantastic time was had by all.

 

 

POPSY – Domaine du Sourire just can’t wait until you’re back again next year!

POPSY is a small charity that deserves support –you can help by sponsoring- sponsor forms are available.
Or if you would like to make a donation, please get in touch: popsycharity@hotmail.co.uk or via Facebook.
Check out their website at www.popsy.org.uk

At Domaine du Sourire we aim to make your holiday as fun and as welcoming as possible. We can work with you to arrange packages for groups. Whether your group booking is for a holiday or retreat we endeavour to be as accommodating as possible to suit your needs. We can accommodate creative writing, artists, wellbeing, business or church/spiritual groups as well as groups of family or friends just wanting a great holiday together. Whatever your needs are chat to us and we can work out a programme of activity with you. And if you are not a group don’t worry each Gite is self-contained; individuals and families, alike, are welcome.

The property: what is unique about Domaiane du sourire – child friendly #2

15Jun

Choosing where to stay on holiday can be a bit of a minefield with the myriad of options tantalisingly floating before your eyes.
Why choose Domaine du Sourire, what sets this place apart when it offers the same clichés as many others – great location, comfortable gites with all modern amenities, beautiful views and lots that you can do or see?
Jackie, your amazing host at Domaine Du Sourire, says “We are perfect for families with children.”


The grounds are extensive and fully enclosed providing a safe play area for children to run around freely and safely leaving mums and dads, grannies and grandads to worry a little less about what the kids are up to.


Nature is on your doorstep. There are some fruit trees and the children can pick when in season, the cherries are very popular but watch they don’t eat too many! Children love to dig around and plant things and they can do just that in the sensory garden area. They can collect pine cones and things from one of the many woods within short stroll of Domaine du Sourire. Terry said they have even been visited by a baby owl who is very friendly.

The gites are spacious and give you much more room than a hotel room when you have young children. Depending on family size and which gite you choose the children could have a room each meaning you don’t have to creep around in the dark to get another drink or snack or even get to the loo. Instead of being confined to a balcony as you might in a hotel in the evenings, you can use the kitchen, living area, bathroom, patio or courtyard all without disturbing your sleeping cherubs, making it a wonderful holiday for you as well.


Meal times are much simpler as you can cook what you like when you like. French dining can be somewhat intense with the preferred 3 courses at lunch which may not be great for the kids. Although there are some good dining options such as the night markets which are really very child orientated, the flexibility to self-cater and enjoy a BBQ in the sun is what makes this a great place for families.
There is plenty to entertain the children with the garden and play area outside, the grounds where they can play football or chasing with their new friends from some of the other gites. The indoor soft play area is a great hit with the little ones and will keep them happy and amused for hours. New experiences can be had in the sensory room which will thrill the user through the interactive space full of light and sound. It will stimulate them and encourage communication. And we haven’t even mentioned the pool!


The benefit of being an enclosed complex of 4 gites gives children and parents alike a freedom that is safe and enjoyable for all, and most important the opportunity to make new friends from faraway places and yet it is big enough to not be overcrowded.
What sets Domaine du Sourire apart from the rest? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best holiday experience for every member of the family from the littlest to the biggest! Jackie has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”

The property: what is unique about Domaine du Sourire # 1

06Jun

It’s time to answer that question that you are no doubt asking as you are searching for that perfect place to holiday, “Why Domaine du Sourire?”

What is it that is unique about these gites compared to all the others?

We are in an ideal location, we have magnificent views, Jackie and Terry live on site and are friendly hosts. So far so good but so the same as many others in the region (apart for Jackie and Terry who are unique!)

So, what is different at Domaine du Sourire?

I believe what is unique at Domaine du Sourire is the space Jackie and Terry have created so you can experience the best time of your lives whether you have a disability or not. It is their passion to ensure that the needs of a disabled child or adult are met as well as the needs of other family members.

One of the biggest differences is the accessibility for people with disabilities. Three of the 4 gites are fully wheelchair accessible, fitted with wet-rooms and specialist equipment is available or can be hired.

Even the swimming pool has a ramp which enables wheelchair users to safely and easily enter the water and have as much fun as others.

 

Holidays are fun, busy and noisy and fun, busy and noisy. Sometimes a different environment is much needed. The sensory room provides that often needed space to relax and reduce anxiety and stress in a safe place when it gets all too much.

At Domaine du Sourire Jackie and Terry recognise the world is changing and families or individuals who face disability deserve the same opportunities and they are proud that they provide that opportunity at Domaine du Sourire.

What makes Domaine du Sourire unique? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best holiday experience whatever your ability. Jackie has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”

So, where are these holiday gites at Domaine du Sourire exactly?….

27May

So, where are these holiday gites at Domaine du Sourire exactly?You have researched the type of holiday you want, you have checked our website, you love our accommodation and are happy with the amenities and service. You are close to making a decision to book but are asking “how do you travel here?”

Ferries

My childhood holidays were more likely to involve a ferry trip rather than flights and I have some great memories of those days. The excitement and fun of discovery far outweighed the longer and slightly more uncomfortable journey conditions. Ferries still offer that sense of adventure and modern ferries are much improved. They’re faster, cleaner, have more onboard facilities and the food, oh yes, the food is much better than when I was a kid. This summer your trip to France could be the time to rediscover the magic of the Ferry.

There are a few alternatives from UK and Ireland:

UK/Ireland Port France Port Ferry Company Driving distance from Port to Domaine du Sourire
Dover Calais Eurotunnel; P&O Ferries; DFDS Seaways 8 hours
Newhaven Dieppe DFDS Seaways 7 hours
Portsmouth Le Havre Brittany Ferries 6 hours 30 mins
Portsmouth St Malo Brittany Ferries 5 hours 30 mins
Portsmouth Cherbourg Brittany Ferries; Condor Ferries 6 hours
Poole Cherbourg Brittany Ferries 6 hours
Poole St Malo Condor Ferries 5 hours 30 mins
Plymouth Roscoff Brittany Ferries 7 hours
Cork Roscoff Brittany Ferries 7 hours
Dublin Cherbourg Irish Ferries 6 hours
Rosslare Roscoff Irish Ferries 7 hours
Rosslare Cherbourg Irish Ferries; Stena Line 6 hours

There are plenty of interesting places to stop off at for refreshment on the way from the harbour to your holiday destination Domaine du Sourire. The gorgeous villages in the countryside, splendid lavender and sunflower fields and vineyards are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to visiting the numerous sights and attractions in France.

By AIR

Flying, too, has much to offer and it has its own excitements of course. The availability of low cost, budget airlines has increased and kept routes open and affordable.
It is still the quickest means of travel. If you’re fortunate and get a window seat, there are often some great views. There is nothing quite like soaring over the countryside, while seas, rivers, mountains, and other beautiful landscapes pass beneath. Even at night, when darkness shrouds the sky, it is pleasant to look out and see the islands of light that spread across the earth below. Of course, you can get good views from other means of transport also, but there is nothing that quite compares to the awesome bird’s eye view from an airplane.

And you can easily hire a car these days while booking your flight and it will be ready and waiting for you. Most airports will offer the major dealerships such as Europecar, Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and Sixt. However if you need an adapted car do check with the company. Here are a few links that will provide good advice:
https://www.disabledholidays.com/about/car-hire.html
http://www.holidaycars.com/car-rental/france/

The nearest airports to Domaine du Sourire are Angouleme, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Bergerac, Limoges, La Rochelle. Paris CDG is a 2hr TVG Train trip away. From the UK and Ireland, flights are in and around 2 hours.
Angouleme is closest but unless you are flying from London Stansted there are no other flights to this airport from the UK.

Bergerac, Poiters, Bordeax and Limoges all have frequent low cost flights (Easyjet, Ryan Air, FlyBe, BMI Baby and AerLingus) from UK and Ireland and are within an hour and half driving distance from Domaine Du Sourire. A little further out at just around 2 hours driving distance is La Rochelle.

So, if you are coming from beyond the region, you know how to get here; we hope to see you soon.