When we received an enthusiastic email from one of our cherished property owners, sharing the incredible time they had spent with their family at the Wyndham Halcyon Retreat, and exploring the local attractions, we couldn’t help but be intrigued. Their heartfelt message expressed a desire to ensure that our other clients and readers could benefit from their invaluable recommendations. Eager to delve deeper into their unforgettable journey, we reached out to hear all the details…
What we received was a beautifully written account, brimming with genuine admiration and we decided the best way to present their experience was to share it exactly as they had penned it. So without further ado, we proudly present to you a first-hand account from one of our esteemed holiday homeowners, who stayed at our resort and fell head over heels in love with their time here. We hope you enjoy the read.
A Visitor’s Journey
During this visit, we were pleased to have more time to explore the surrounding area than we had in the past. It proved to be a remarkable experience as we discovered lots of activities for kids, and families all within one hour drive of the resort.
We fitted so much in, from a vineyard tour to another chateau boasting beautifully exotic gardens, children’s amusement parks, plus a zoo and aquarium. With the “eyes and soul” of both a tourist and family father, I can see that the area caters exceptionally well to families with children and offers engaging experiences for older generations as well. And the best part? These places aren’t overcrowded like in Paris or Bordeaux.
Let me share the outline of our memorable trip, which was cherished with my wife, our 7-year old, and my Mother.
Just 30 minutes away by car, we spent our first day in the Limoges Aquarium, an intimate place with a very dedicated staff who spoke great English. We particularly enjoyed the fact that we were given the opportunity to feed the fish, big and small, and were able to dip our hands in the water to feel them. We have been to other huge aquariums, but this was indeed exceptional.
While time didn’t allow a visit to the porcelain collection, we highly recommend exploring the Limoges Cathedral and the old Butcher’s Quarter. Charming cafes and restaurants fill the square offering a delightful setting to take in the city’s history. The Saint Martial Commercial Center houses all the essential brands and the small food court on the first floor offers lots of beautiful and delicious pastries. This indoor shopping center would be a great visit on a rainy day.
On our second day, we visited Feeriland just outside Limoges. This fun family-run theme park is filled with fascinating exhibits featuring historical miniature models that range from the Roman Empire to the “Wild West” Cowboy Land. There’s also a park with lots of games to play, inflatables, and even a bamboo forest to explore. Each visitor receives an intriguing quiz (available in English, too) which is a fantastic way to keep kids engaged while exploring the models and park helping to sharpen their observation skills.
Auberge de Veyrac
Not far from Freeriland, we stumbled upon this delightful café and wine house called Auberge de Veyrac. Even my mother, who isn’t really into wine, couldn’t resist taking a sip of their amazing Merlot house wine. It was that good! This place seemed to be a hit with the locals, and we were fortunate to snag a table for lunch. The ambiance was charming and the food was delicious. It was the perfect spot to relax and indulge in some local flavours.
Domaine des Gabies
Just a hop away from the Chateau, we found a lovely vineyard managed by a lady who specializes in two main grape varieties: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We couldn’t believe our luck when a couple of friendly French-American tourists happened to be cycling through and ended up graciously acting as our interpreter. Talk about perfect timing! It turned out that booking a viewing was mandatory, but once again, luck was on our side, and we secured a spot.
The vineyard treated us to an incredible wine-tasting experience, where we had the chance to sample their exquisite wines and purchase our favorites. The best part was that the vineyard boasts the most stunning views of the river below. It’s no wonder the wines here are so exceptional – the cooler temperatures by the water in this picturesque setting must contribute to their distinct flavors.
The Cazine Lakes, Noth, and La Souterraine
We had a lovely time meandering the beautiful lakeside area where my mother could find edible herbs. We got chatting with an elderly local who was proud in telling us about the beauty of his hometown. He told us about several fishing areas in the village which sounded great. We found the locals to be very friendly and I even found a cafe owner who spoke to me in fluent Italian and could give me lots more information about the area.
La Souterraine is also a lovely village with its own charms. There are several shopping centers including a Carrefour with a very good wine selection, mostly from Bordeaux, but also from Bourgogne.
Chateau de Losmonerie
We also had the pleasure of visiting the Chateau de Losmonerie, situated right next to the Vienne River. We struck up a conversation with the owner, who took us on a tour of the magnificent botanical garden filled with exotic plants from around the globe. He personally tends to each plant with great pride and was eager to share his fascinating stories with us.
Inside the Chateau, we embarked on a guided tour that allowed us to delve into the history of the different rooms. The highlight came at the end when we discovered a hidden room. I won’t spoil the surprise for you!
After exploring the castle and gardens, we found ourselves strolling along beautiful paths that led all the way down to the river. There, we discovered a charming pergola where we could sit and relax and just enjoy being together.
The following day, we decided to visit Park Bellevue. Now, it may not be the most thrilling or fast-paced amusement park out there, but it perfectly caters to its target audience of younger children, typically up to 12 years old (and maybe even a bit older). One of the things we loved about this park was that there were no long queues for the rides. It made the whole experience so much more enjoyable and hassle-free. Our little one could hop from one attraction to another without having to wait for ages.
Zoo Garden Reynou
Our last day was spent in the beautiful Reynou Zoo, where we found almost every species of animal; lions, wolves, tigers, and even white Arctic bears! The park is wonderfully designed and we spent the entire day there strolling around and enjoying every moment.
At the Wyndham Halcyon Retreat
The resort’s tranquil environment, shaded wood, and picturesque surroundings made it a serene retreat and the dining experience was excellent thanks to the professional staff and extraordinary chef.
As newly blessed tennis enthusiasts, we were thrilled with the beautiful court and its view of the Chateau. I sent a photo to my tennis friends with the caption “Probably the most beautiful tennis court in Europe!” The resort offered us more than just tennis. With a small functional gym and scenic jogging areas, we had ample opportunities to stay fit during our visit. To my pleasant surprise, stepping on the scales after our holiday revealed no weight gain – for me, a rare accomplishment!
The climate in the area is amazing. Known as the land of 1000 lakes, it offers a unique and refreshing atmosphere. In terms of summer temperatures, this place truly distinguishes itself from other destinations we have visited in France.
For Next Time:
Next time on our bucket lists, will be the other vineyards to discover all within one hour’s drive away. The porcelain exhibition in Limoges, the Jardine d’Eveche, and almost certainly the charming restaurant in La Souterrain, “Le Passé Murraile” which, judging by its lunchtime crowds, must be great!
The moment you arrive at the Retreat feels as if you instantly disconnect from all your worries and daily life challenges. The serene atmosphere, enveloped by the woods, embraces you from the moment you enter the last road to the Chateau, and it just feels like home.
There is something magical about the Halcyon Retreat, its grounds, and the Chateau. I really can’t explain it, but you feel a sense of peace in your mind and soul when spending time there.
On our way back to the airport, we visited the magnificent Palace of Versailles, which was great.. but we all missed the Halcyon Retreat for its peace, climate, and magical atmosphere.