At the beginning of September, children will start or return to school for another academic year. Therefore, it is the perfect time for adults to take a leaf out of the children’s book and challenge (or treat) themselves and learn something new. Whether it be brushing up their history knowledge at Puy du Fou in the Vendée, improving their language skills by chatting to the locals in Saint Lary in the Pyrenees, pushing themselves in physical education with a surfing lesson in Moliets, learning the real-life physics behind golf in Sainte Maxime or developing their wine palate in Chambéry (all for the good of home economics).
Summer France has more than 30 sites offering villas, apartments and hotels across France including all the locations listed above. Make the most of the cooler weather, better-value prices and sparser crowds when travelling in September and early October, before returning home with a sparkling new talent.
History: Puy du Fou
The bizarre Puy du Fou is a rural theme park, but one where history itself provides the roller coaster ride. What started as an open-air amateur-dramatics night in 1978, when volunteers in the grounds of a ruined castle re-enacted the bloody history of the Vendée, in western France, has become one of the country’s biggest success stories (in France, it’s the second most-visited theme park after Disneyland Paris). Nowadays, thousands of actors and animals re-create high drama, from Roman gladiators to King Arthur, with mind-blowing special effects. (Tickets cost from €36 / £33 per adult.) After an exciting day learning some enthralling tales from the past, return to one of six villa or apartment complexes in the Vendée with Summer France, to make the most of the beautiful region. Situated between sand dunes and rich pine forest, Le Mas de Sainte Hilaire offers spacious bungalows plus a communal swimming pool and pretty gardens. A week’s self-catered stay, from 14 September 2019, costs from £103 pp (£206 total) for two people sharing a one-bedroom cottage complete with living area, kitchen and terrace.
Languages: Résidence Cami Real
Combining character with authentic architecture, Ski France (the Alpine version of Summer France) offers Saint Lary, in the heart of the Aure Valley in the Pyrenees, which provides the ideal setting for a late-summer trip to perfect those French phrases. Guests can make the most of the valley walks, fishing streams and sparkling lakes during the day before heading to the thermal pools and soothing spa. Not many Brits know about this wonderful place yet, but it is very popular with locals who are always keen to have a chat in one of the restaurants or bars in the evening. Just a short walk from the town centre, and built using local materials from the Aure Valley, the four-star Résidence Cami Real apartments have everything on hand for a comfortable holiday in the mountains, including an indoor heated pool and sauna. A week’s self-catered stay, from 14 September 2019, costs from £27.50 pp (£110 total) for four people sharing a one bedroom plus alcove apartment, complete with fully-equipped kitchen, living room and balcony or terrace.
Physical Education: Moliets-et-Maa
Home to attractive beaches, endless pine forests and a sociable little town, Moliets-et-Maa, on the south coast of Les Landes, is an ideal place to learn how to surf. September brings consistent waves, warm temperatures and a chilled atmosphere. Sign up to a session with The Golf Surf School; as it’s the only surf school located on the beach of the cork oaks in Moliets, it means everyone has ample space to master the basics and beyond. A two-hour discovery session costs from €35 / £32 per adult. In the evening, return to one of seven villa or apartment sites with Summer France. La Résidence du Golf can be found close to the laid-back town of Moliets and offers spectacular views over the trees and beaches. Aside from surfing, guests can also enjoy the swimming pool, golf course, tennis courts, cycling paths and horse-riding trails. A week’s self-catered stay, from 14 September 2019, costs from £76.50 pp (£153 total) for two people sharing a one-bedroom apartment, complete with living area, kitchen and balcony.
Physics: Sainte Maxime
Golf is considered a real-world physics problem, involving forces and aerodynamics during the hitting of the ball, its flight through the air, the run of the ball (after landing) and throughout the putt. Golfers put a lot of effort into perfecting their golf game and this, combined with an understanding of the physics involved, can yield additional benefit. Sainte Maxime is an ideal destination to test this science, especially with the Golf de Sainte Maxime, an 18-hole course designed by English golf architect Don Harradine in 1991. Commanding some of the best views of the outstanding bay of Saint-Tropez, golfers can tee off on the lush greens amidst the picturesque Var countryside. A day’s green fee costs from €56 / £51 pp. Summer France has three villa complexes in Sainte Maxime; for a luxurious break stay at the gorgeous Restanques du Carré Beauchêne in Sainte Maxime, which offer guests their own private outdoor garden and swimming pool. A week’s self-catered stay, from 14 September 2019, costs from £86.90 pp (£696 total) for eight people sharing a three-bedroom villa complete with living room, kitchen and terrace.
Home Economics: Chambéry
Learn about (and sample) a series of local and regional wines at Ski France’s beautiful Château de Candie in Chambéry. Located approximately three miles from the centre of Chambéry, the luxury four-star castle blends past and present seamlessly to create a memorable stay. Guests can wander through the castle’s own vineyard, which yields circa 3,000 bottles of wine, made from the Viognier grape, each year. Viognier – known as a ‘noble grape’ due to its incredible high quality – creates a full-bodied white wine loved for its perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle. Discover the incredible world of wine with the knowledgeable sommelier at Le Château de Candie. The grapes are also harvested every September; guests could be asked to join the annual vendange… Return home having learnt some key pointers surrounding the look, smell and taste of this delicious tipple. A week’s stay, from 14 September 2019, costs from £523 pp (£1,046 total) for two people sharing a superior room including breakfast.
For more information, visit www.summerfrance.co.uk or call 0203 475 4756.