1- Halfway up a Tree
Wake up to birdsong, have a squirrel stop by for breakfast and really get back to nature for a few hours. You can do all these in one of the five tree cabins nestled high up in the Château des Enigmens park at Pons, in Haute-Saintonge.
Perched 11 metres up in a three-hundred year-old Lebanese Cedar, the Enigmes Cabin has room for up to three people and gives a breathtaking view of the château. You get to it up two spiral staircases. The Zen Cabin hangs 8 metres up in a hundred-year old Oak and sleeps two. To get to it you climb a staircase from the neighbouring Cedar then over a rope bridge.
The Mille et une Nuits Cabin, perched seven metres up in a hundred-year old Oak, looks like an oriental palace with its four-poster bed. For families, the "Squirrel Cabin" (cabin des écureuils) hangs five metres up across two Oak trees, both a hundred years old and sleeps up to five people. The "Moussaillons Cabin", a pirate ship perched five metres up in a hundred-year old Oak, also takes five.
For breakfast, simply hoist up the basket left at the foot of the tree at 8.30am, settle down on the balcony and tuck in. With no running water or electricity, the cabins come with dry toilets. You can use a bathroom in the château between 8.00am and 7.00pm and a sanitary block is open 24/7 from April to October.
Open all year. From €135.
2 - Star-gazing from a bubble
Just a hundred metres from the family house in the Bois des Granges, at Montendre in southern Charente-Maritime, Pierre Gatard decided to build three giant bubbles with a difference. The result? You get to spend a night under the stars, but without the mosquitos or catching a cold!
If you're feeling romantic, go for the Floral Bubble in the shade of an Oak tree and perfect for two. If you're feeling groovy the Pop Bubble's your answer. A riot of colour with its 1970's graphic design plastic and chrome interior this one also sleeps two. If you're coming with friends head for the Oak Bubble, hidden away in the American Oaks, Eucalyptus, Maritime Pine and Ash trees. This one sleeps up to five and is accessible to people with reduced mobility. Stars aren't the only things you'll see. Everything's so quiet here in the middle of nature that you might get to spot a deer or a squirrel drawn by the scrummy smells of cake, bread and (homemade) jam at breakfast. Early every morning the hosts leave an ice box in front of each bubble so that early birds or late risers guests can have breakfast when they like.
Each bubble has a dry toilet and two showers complete the set up.
Open every day from late April to late September. From €160 a night for two, breakfast included.
3 – On the move standing still
A wooden gipsy caravan looking out over vineyards that stretch into the distance. An invitation to set off on an exciting adventure. Inspired by this bohemian dream - and her daughter!, in 2011 Florence Bouffard, a retired wine producer in Saint-Maurice-de-Tavernole in Haute Saintonge, set up a caravan, a pod and a big tent in the garden of her 11,5 hectare vineyard. Three years later, she added a second family pod, a kota (Finnish chalet) with an indoor barbecue, a Troll Cabin and a "hot tub" (outdoor wooden bath tub). Then in 2016, the Cognac Cabin and a sauna for two. These cosy retreats now form a small 5,000m2 village in a calm setting, perfect for recharging your batteries.
Ninon's 17m2 Caravan sleeps five and comes with a bathroom, toilets and a kitchenette. Every morning at 8.15am a breakfast basket is dropped by the door. Every evening, from 6.30pm, aperitif baskets with local produce are also available.
Open all year. From €90.
4 – My Yurt in the middle of the Vineyards
Since Corinne Martinaud returned to her native village, a Mongolian wind has been blowing over the small town of Salignac-sur-Charente not far from Cognac. That's because in April 2009, she decided to set up three yurts on her land. Traditionally used by Mongolian shepherds, as they move around with their flocks and herds, the yurts bring a quirky change of scenery to the surrounding vineyards. Ecologically-minded, Corinne made sure her charentais yurts, rented out as chambres d'hôte rooms, were built locally in the Deux-Sèvres.
The Globetrotter and Fisherman yurts (both 28m2) sleep two to four people. The spacious Ethnic yurt (50m2) can take five to eight. All the yurts are accessible to people with reduced mobility. The three bathrooms are grouped together in a nearby building. Breakfast (bread, croissants and homemade cake) is served between 8.30am and 10.30am.
Open all year. From €70 euros.
5 - Floating above the water
Fishing enthusiasts, or those who'd simply like to spend a night on the water near La Rochelle, can now rent a fishing hut on stilts (carrelet pédagogique) from the Nautical Centre in Angoulins-sur-Mer (CNA) for six hours, the time of a nocturnal high tide.
A simple fishing pontoon, the cabin is not equipped for either eating or sleeping. No toilets, no washbasin, just a table and two benches. But the more adventuresome, who don't mind sleeping rough, can always bring along their inflatable mattresses and sleeping bags, then let themselves be rocked by the sound of the waves. The cabin can take up to 8 people.
Rental from mid-March to mid-November. From €35.
or +33 (0)5 46 56 89 73.