We just flew home from a week spent at a revamped 1920’s beach house in Montalivet, a stunning sand dune-strewn spot that’s long been a hit with French families (who’ll often decamp there for the entire summer). The house is the perfect fit for lazy family holidays. I mean hello: the entire garden is basically a sandpit filled with rosemary plants and shady trees – kids almost don’t even need to go to the beach (thankfully if they do it’s only a 5 minute walk away via the ice cream parlor).
The house is split into three “flats” each with its own kitchen, bathroom, private outside space and between one and three bedrooms. Making its a great solution for sharing families who want to be together but not on top of each other (outside the July and August peak season you can rent flats individually rather than having to take the whole house too).
Inside the English owner Jane has unleashed her inner magpie, filling it with row upon row of vintage kitchenware, antique wooden toys, chipped amours and bunches of fresh flowers from the garden. Space is tight (the house was originally designed for a bourgeois family from Bordeaux who used it for just one month each summer) but you’ll find you spend most of your time on the shady veranda that fronts the house – where you can pick from deck chairs, rockers, hammock seats and basically just laze with a huge glass of Bordeaux wine whilst the little nippers go nuts with a horde of buckets and spades (thoughtfully left out for guests) in the gated front yard.
Out and about there’s plenty to keep you busy and get you sunburnt. Our favourite market was at St-Vivien-de-Médoc (every Wednesday), about 15 minutes drive away, stop by the charity shop beside the church which has a great range of kids clothes and was full of cute pumps, little muslin dresses and reams vintage fabrics – basically just a ridiculous amount of covetable stuff with everything priced at about 1 euro. Montalivet’s Saturday market is also a must (look out for the stand-up-and-eat oyster stalls serving a dozen super-fresh mollusks and a glass of wine for well under 10 Euros), we also loved pottering in nearby Soulac, famous for its early 1900’s beach villas and a spectacular yellow sandy beach – look out for the bike hire spots near the front with novelty four-person bikes which allow the littlest to sit at the front on a pony – trust me it’s awesome!
Prices for the whole beach house (sleeps 16) start at £1,750 a week. the various flats start at£400 a week.