10 Reasons to Visit : The Charente

10 Reasons to Visit : The Charente

1 – Variety show

  • Flanked by the Dordogne and Charente-Maritime departments, the tranquil Charente has a wealth of enticing elements to lure visitors, from dreamy waterways to historic villages, from castles and rolling fields to its world famous booze, Cognac.

2 – Water world

  • If you’re keen to mess about on a peaceful French river, take to the one that gave the region its name. Choose a self-skippered river cruiser, comfortable and fun, and stop at whichever picturesque spot you fancy for lunch. The Charente river winds though limestone villages, passing under dreamy hump-backed bridges and boating is surely the most perfect way to enjoy rural France at close hand.

3 – Hook, line and sinker

  • Of course, the region’s rivers (and its lakes) also offer up plenty of catching opportunities for anglers, with abundant pike, eels, carp, chubb, rudd, tench and trout available to the most patient. For the uninitiated, the region even has four fishing schools to train up the next generation of trout ticklers.

4 – Adrenaline action

  • There are plenty of freshwater bathing spots around the region, but if it’s something a little more energy-consuming you’re into, Charente has loads of activities to get involved with. As well as one to three-hour marked walking trails, there are rock climbing and aerial adventure courses plus canoeing, rafting, mountain bike trails and plenty of lovely golf courses.

5 – Comic capital

  • The capital of the region is historic Angoulême, which sits proudly on a hill above the Charente. It’s a dedicated Town of Art and History and visitors should keep eyes pointed upwards as they take in the circuit of wall-painting which nods to the city’s past as a paper-making hub. More recently it has become the epicentre of the French comic book world, with a renovated museum.

French buildings

6 – Villages of beauty

  • In addition to historic towns like Saintes, Charente has its fair share of charming villages to explore, the most gorgeous of which is perhaps Aubeterre, a classified Most Beautiful Village of France. This ancient spot overlooks the Dronne river from a white cliff and was built in the shape of an amphitheatre. Its monolithic underground church is quite something. Other pretty villages to enjoy include Nanteuil-en-Vallée and Confolens.

7 – Châteaux of choice

  • Of all the delightful châteaux dotted around the Charente, none is more impressive than the one at Rochefoucauld. This ancient fortress has remained in the same family for over 1,000 years. Keep an eye out for the twisted stone staircase and cheeky sculptures in the gallery.

8 – A fine cuisine

  • With beef from nearby Charente-Limousine, veal from Chalais, capons from Barbezieux, nuts and chestnuts, great cheeses, the region is gastro heaven.

9 – Nectar of the gods

  • In addition to the widely produced, delicious sweet liqueur aperitif pineau (spot the road signs) the region is obviously most famous worldwide for its poky heartwarmer Cognac, produced in the town of the same name. Taste your way around the big houses like Hennessy and Otard and snap up a bottle of this double-distilled eau-de-vie for your own drinks cabinet.

Congnac in a glass

10 – Cognac country

  • Around Cognac you can witness the birth of the spirit and enjoy the work of master craftsmen on the Oak Trail, which takes visitors from the barrel-making process to the distilling and ageing plants.

Further reading –

Property guide to the Charente>>>

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A lifelong Francophile, Justin is the Editor of FrenchEntrée

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  • mci
    2019-02-05 22:19:25
    I think Saintes is still in Charente-Maritime.