A leisure lake for families, La Rochelle for dreamers, chateaux by the hatful and Aigre market a joy. A few of the reasons why this big old merchant’s house, awash with light and perfectly restored, is a marvellous place for an extended family. It sits in a quiet hamlet back from the road surrounded by safe gardens, with a playground in wide lawns and a pool between the barns. Mellow-stoned and pale-shuttered without, bright and modern within, Maison Marchand has space galore, and bedrooms to suit all ages. Upstairs: a master en suite, a family bathroom and two pretty twins; downstairs: bunk beds and a sofa, a king-size double and a walk-in shower. Walls and beams are painted white; dark wood and pale stone gleam; there are two sitting rooms, both with great sofas, and two super dining spaces, one in the whizzy kitchen, the other in the rustic, atmospheric, vaulted ‘indoor/outdoor’ room, lit by candles and near the barbecue. In summer, this space is where you’ll linger. The pool is gorgeous and outdoorsy pursuits abound: hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, riding… the Charente has it all.