La Grue – chez vous!

Carol and Martin Paylor left their lives in the UK in 2018 to start living the French dream with their family running La Grue Gites in the sunny Charente! In this guest blog, they share their ideas on how you can bring a little bit on France into your home until your next visit. 

Dreaming of your next French holiday? Why not welcome a little bit of the gorgeous Charente into your home until you can make your next visit?

Living in the small hamlet of La Grue near the market town of Aigre which is home to Cognac Gautier (one of the oldest Cognac houses in France) for four years now, we feel we have learnt so much  from our friends, neighbours and visitors here at La Grue Gites.

Here are our five top-tips for a small taste of life at La Grue…


  1. Cinq a Sept (5-7pm)

Embrace the apero! We were introduced to aperitifs La Grue style by our neighbours. These pre-dinner drinks with nibbles and can be anything from an informal beer with crisps and nuts to a vin mousseaux (wine made in the champagne method) and many delightful bite-size mouthfuls.

At around 5pm, for me, it’s time for a chilled Pineau des Charentes* – red or white – I love them both (lovingly made by our neighbour in Mons). If you can’t source a Pineau, you could try a chilled sherry with ice.

We both love a Cognac cocktail -more on that later!

Or indeed, anything goes. For hubby, it’s “beer o’clock” with his favourite tipples being from local craft brewers.

The nibbles? Try goat’s cheese with a fig or caramelised onion chutney, sliced baguette, cornichons with charcuterie, cherry tomatoes and peanuts (cacahuetes – I love that word!)

  1. Crack out the Cognac Cocktails

Now I have never liked Cognac, not until I moved to the gorgeous Charente. Try a young Cognac (light in colour and not too heavy on the pocket) and mix with a citrus fruit fizzy canned drink – you know the one – it’s got a totally tropical taste. Ice if you wish. This was a game-changer for me.

What about a Cognac Mojito? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

There are lots of recipes online and we have had great fun trying them out.


  1. Les Tournesols

I always loved a bunch of smiling sunflowers in our kitchen and our children used to grow them in Beavers for our annual village fayre. Being surrounded by fields of their smiley faces just makes my heart sing. There are fields upon fields here and they are so beautiful. Buy a bunch or sew some seeds and watch them grow.


  1. Le petit-dej

Breakfast French-style. Find your round breakfast bowls and fill them with black coffee or hot chocolate for the children. Couple with croissants and chocolatines (Charentais for pain au chocolat). Try dunking them in your drink – our children love plunging their faces into their hot chocolate of a morning!

  1. Les Cagouilles

Contoversial I know – you could always approach it as a bushtucker trial, tee hee.

Here in Aigre in the Charente, the cagouille (Charentais for snail) is incredibly important and is the town emblem. I was interested to try and when our kind neighbour had gathered, prepared and cooked for us “Cagouille a la Charentaise” which is snails in a Bolognese type sauce, I was so touched and really pleasantly surprised. I am now converted to snail pate, snail sausage and garlic snails and chips. (So, if you’re feeling adventurous, snails are available in the freezer section from an “Everyday Amazing” supermarket near you!)

Bon appetit and keep dreaming the French dream.

Bisous from Carol and Martin at La Grue Gites. Xx


*Pineau des Charentes is a fortified wine made by mixing grape must with cognac

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