12 February 2021

Le gîte à la Menounière

For our stay on the Île d'Oléron, we rented this little house about five minutes' walk from the beach. La Menounière is a hamlet — a named neighborhood or village — within the commune of Saint-Pierre-d'Oléron. The owners lived just three or four houses away on the same street. On the ground floor there was a spacious living-dining room with what is called une cuisine américaine — a kitchen open to, not separate from, the living room, as well as a full bath and a bedroom. There was another bedroom and a half-bath upstairs.

Here's a view of the street. That's my little pale blue Peugeot 206 in the photo. Twelve years later, we're still driving it. At la Menounière, every morning a porteuse de pain (a woman who brought bread to sell) would drive up in her little white van, toot the horn, and wait for us and our neighbors to come out and buy some baguettes, croissants, or brioche for the day. She also sold milk, butter, and cheeses. It was a nice service.
The gîte was sparsely furnished, and that's what you learn to expect. Staying in a gîte rural is just a step up from camping, but a significant step up. There's a kitchen. There's heat (but maybe for a few extra euros). There's a bathroom with hot water. We usually take our own towels. And there are beds. We also take our own bed linens. Pillows and blankets are normally provided. Sometimes, for people who can't or don't want to bring bed or bath linens, for a reasonable fee the gîte owner will rent you some for your stay. Gîtes are set up to serve people who arrive by car.

We also take food with us. On some days, we'll have lunch in a restaurant, provided we can take the dog with us. Other days, we'll have a picnic at lunchtime, weather permitting. For the evening meal, we eat foods we've brought from home, or we buy fromages, pâtés, and salades while we are out and about, touring around. That way we can relax in the evening after taking the dog for a walk, without having to drive back from a restaurant in the dark. It's easy to get lost, especially at night, when you don't know an area very well.
It was nice to be able to walk down to the beach with the dog mornings and evenings. We were lucky with the weather. It was the third week in May, so the days were long and the nights were short. We had outdoor space — the gate opened into a courtyard, where there was a table and chairs. Some evenings it was warm enough for us to sit outside and eat our dinner. We might even have enjoyed breakfast in the courtyard on a few mornings, before heading out for the day's activities. There were several supermarkets on the island, within easy driving distance.
Here are Walt and our border collie, Callie, enjoying the sun in the courtyard. Notice the fold-up clothes-drying rack. That was handy for drying the towel used to dry off the dog after our walks on the beach or around the neighborhood. I don't believe there was a washing machine in the house, but we didn't need one. There was a dishwasher. Who wants to spend valuable vacation time washing dishes?

This house is still operated as a gîte, according to what I find on the internet. It has been updated and refurnished since 2008. I'll find the link again and post it tomorrow, with some photos of the current furnishings if possible. The rent is very reasonable.


  1. The last photo made me think of these two lines,
    Un lièvre en son gîte songeait,
    (Car que faire en un gîte, à moins que l'on ne songe ?)
    La Fontaine - Le Lièvre et les Grenouilles

    1. Is it Cheryl in the fourth photo?

    2. Yes, that's Cheryl seated at the table doing, I think, a puzzle.

      As for La Fontaine :

      Le Lièvre et les Grenouilles
      Un Lièvre en son gîte songeait
      (Car que faire en un gîte, à moins que l'on ne songe ?) ;
      Dans un profond ennui ce Lièvre se plongeait :
      Cet animal est triste, et la crainte le ronge.
      "Les gens de naturel peureux
      Sont, disait-il, bien malheureux.
      Ils ne sauraient manger morceau qui leur profite ;
      Jamais un plaisir pur ; toujours assauts divers.
      Voilà comme je vis : cette crainte maudite
      M'empêche de dormir, sinon les yeux ouverts.
      Corrigez-vous, dira quelque sage cervelle.
      Et la peur se corrige-t-elle ?
      Je crois même qu'en bonne foi
      Les hommes ont peur comme moi. "
      Ainsi raisonnait notre Lièvre,
      Et cependant faisait le guet.
      Il était douteux, inquiet :
      Un souffle, une ombre, un rien, tout lui donnait la fièvre.
      Le mélancolique animal,
      En rêvant à cette matière,
      Entend un léger bruit : ce lui fut un signal
      Pour s'enfuir devers sa tanière.
      Il s'en alla passer sur le bord d'un étang.
      Grenouilles aussitôt de sauter dans les ondes ;
      Grenouilles de rentrer en leurs grottes profondes.
      "Oh! dit-il, j'en fais faire autant
      Qu'on m'en fait faire ! Ma présence
      Effraie aussi les gens ! je mets l'alarme au camp !
      Et d'où me vient cette vaillance ?
      Comment ? Des animaux qui tremblent devant moi !
      Je suis donc un foudre de guerre !
      Il n'est, je le vois bien, si poltron sur la terre
      Qui ne puisse trouver un plus poltron que soi. "

    3. As often happens with La Fontaine, verses from any of his numerous fables are better known than the fables themselves. That the case with these first two lines. It is too bad because most of them are beautiful.

    4. While looking for Le chêne et le roseau, I found this link that may interest some of your readers, Ken. I'm no judge of the quality of the translation/interpretation in English, but I think it is very good.

    5. Thanks for the link chm. I had to resort to using it.

  2. The gite looks very spacious. I’ve been interested in this area so will look forward to seeing the link for the gite tomorrow.

  3. is there any view out the back?

    1. There is no "back" as such. For views from the gîte, look elsewhere.

  4. The gite looks comfy and I like the exposed stone walls. Also, an attractive street near the beach!

  5. I know you will be happy to get to take another vacation by the sea or ocean, once everything settles down. This looks like it must have been a great vacation :) Being able to relax at home, together, with your dinner, and plan the next day, is a really nice aspect of having rented lodging like this, especially for you and Walt, who really enjoy preparing meals :)


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