Here at Accomable, we know you love browsing our listings to find the accessible holiday destination that’s right for you. We also know that when it comes to choosing the perfect accessible property, the devil really is in the detail - so we’re bringing you more of it.
Meet The Vendors is a series of interviews designed to take you behind closed (fully accessible) doors and give a more in-depth look at some of the properties we feature. Today we meet Tony from the beautiful Cottage at Le Manoir in France.
Hello Tony, can you introduce yourself?
I'm Tony, a retired biologist and environmental scientist, specialised in helping to make UK industry more environmentally friendly.
And now can you introduce your property?
I own The Cottage at Le Manoir, a beautiful French Manor House with two delightful rental cottages set in 4 acres of grounds dominated by huge mature trees including sweet chestnuts. Under the spreading chestnut tree you can get some much needed shade which is very important in our hot summers that often hit very high 30°C or more! That’s when the beautiful pool becomes almost a necessity!!
Swimming pool at Le Manoir
Is there an interesting history to your property?
In the 11th and 12th Centuries there were very important Christian pilgrimages from those in northern Europe down through France to visit Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain where the remains of one of Christ’s disciples were buried. Along the 4 main routes that the pilgrims followed, service industries grew up at roughly a days walk to provide the numerous pilgrims with things like shelter, food, medical care, shoe repairs, and religious support – it's 1500km from Paris to Compostella, a long way to walk and your commitment just might start wavering!! My property, Le Manoir, is part of a hamlet that supported the Monastery La Tenaille – this is one of the religious support centres along the pilgrims route. The Monastery, currently uninhabited, is 500m down the lane and is a lovely backdrop.
The Cottage at Le Manoir with private patio
That's definitely a unique history! How have you adapted an historic building like this to enable people with disabilities to stay?
When we arrived in 2006 we started to renovate and modify part of the beautiful old stone barn to create a 3-bedroom cottage with traditional features and a bit of a wow factor. At the time we had a very good friend who was a wheelchair user and she explained how easy it was to create something that is suitable for people with disabilities if you build it in from the beginning. You will see from the pictures that we have a big bedroom on the ground floor which has level access and very wide doors. It has its own en suite wet room which has level access, grab rails built in and a handheld shower extension.
Ground floor bedroom and accessible en suite bathroom
Why did you think it was important to have adaptations?
When you have a close friend who is disabled you begin to understand the difficulties that disabled people can face. By being able to have families with a disabled member to stay I have met some of the nicest people I could hope to meet. I think that a family who has coped with the challenges of disability tends to have a very understanding, relaxed and positive outlook on life – this glass is half full rather than half empty. These families tend to appreciate things much more than other families who sometimes take things for granted.
Have you ever had anyone famous stay?
Fortunately not – if I see a celebrity I run a mile in the opposite direction…
What is your favourite thing to do in the local area?
There is just so much, we are spoilt for choice that is why we chose to move here. I love all the beach-side activities around Royan, then there is so much interesting history to visit like the beautiful fortified medieval village and church at Talmont sur Gironde and wonderful gastronomic experiences like the night market at Jonzac which is all about joining in with a wonderful eating in the market square experience with all the friendly locals and other holiday makers. So many great dishes to choose from but my favourite is the moule frite – the local mussels are so fresh and so sweet!! And with very drinkable local wine at €5 per bottle a good time is guaranteed!!
Talmont sur Gironde
Sounds delicious! Are there any exciting activities in the area that are adapted for people with disabilities?
Only 10 minutes away from the cottages we have the Formula 1 equivalent of a Go-Kart track. They have over 1100m of track in a very exciting circuit and, they have a kart with hand controls and will always help lift anyone in and out. It's worth noting that the beaches now have access pathways of interlocking plastic slabs to help wheelchair users enjoy the sand and the sea.
Have you got any tips for travellers staying with you, what to bring with them etc.?
The Cottage is very well equipped and should provide pretty much everything you would need for a family Gîte holiday. If anyone is concerned about whether they need to pack anything they only have to pop us an enquiry and we will confirm immediately.
The day after arrival, I offer a personal briefing on the local area to all of our holidaymakers. This is tailored to the interests of the particular family and is designed to help them get the best out of there holiday. But, the support doesn’t stop there, we are delighted to help with any questions or requests.
And finally, what sort of a traveller are you?
I love being by the sea but also enjoy the countryside and its wildlife. Understanding more about the world and its history always fills me with interest and wonder. Then I like nothing better than a relaxed natter with friends of a very long lazy BBQ or restaurant meal.
Tony enjoying some down time at the beach
You can find out more about Le Manoir, or book a stay here