Le Logis St-Martin is a wonderful surprise. A couple of minutes' drive down a worryingly suburban road leading off the N11 as it leaves St-Maixent-L'Ecole brings you suddenly to the green, wooded bank of the river Sèvre, opposite an island served by a footbridge. New owner Edouard Pellegrin has taken over this long, low 17thC stone house as a hotel-restaurant, and maintained the uncompromisingly high standards. The first thing you will notice is that the hotel staff don't ever appear in the restaurant, and vice versa.
  The beamed restaurant is an enticing room washed in muted yellows and glinting with silver and crystal; they have a first-rate new chef in Aline Jarriault, and there is a steady stream of local people who make a pilgrimage from town, along the river bank, to eat here. This close to Cognac you can easily bring your excellent meal to a satisfactory conclusion; there is also a generous list of teas and coffees to choose from. The very comfortable well-lit bedrooms are no disappointment: elegantly redecorated in yellow and blue, they all look out over the peaceful river or garden.
   Extensive refurbishments have upgraded this hotel from a 3 star to 4, reports welcome.