Hear about travel to the Charente region of southwest France as the Amateur Traveler talks to Kylie Lang from LifeInRuralFrance.com about her adopted home.
The Charente region, part of Nouvelle Aquitaine in southwest France, is known for its charming sunflower fields, historical chateaux, and rich history. Visitors to the Charente can explore picturesque vineyards, taste world-renowned cognac, and indulge in fresh oysters. The region hosts daily markets offering fresh produce throughout the year, providing an authentic taste of French life. Its quaint villages appear almost frozen in time, creating a sense of stepping back to the 15th century.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, a prominent historical figure, played a significant role in this region. She was the only woman to be queen of two countries, France and England. The Charente, which was under English rule for about 300 years, now has a diverse community of English-speaking expatriates.
Angoulême, one of the notable towns in the Poitou Charente region, sits on a hill with ancient roots dating back to Roman times. The city is also known as the European capital of comics, hosting an International Comic Festival annually. It features impressive murals and a well-known automobile race.
Kylie suggests exploring the Hotel de Ville, which offers insightful tours about its history, and walking the city’s ramparts. Angoulême’s strategic location allows easy access to Bordeaux, which is just under 90 minutes away. Bordeaux, often referred to as the capital of wine in France, provides a great day trip opportunity. Visitors can explore the Cité du Vin, a modern wine museum offering immersive experiences and a panoramic view of Bordeaux. She also recommends the unusual Bassins des Lumières which is a digital art museum in an old German submarine base.
Cognac, another jewel in the Charente’s crown, is renowned for its historical significance and world-famous cognac houses such as Hennessy, Martell, and Remy Martin. Kylie recommends the Hennessy tour, a three-hour experience that delves into the cognac-making process, and a river cruise to witness the scenic beauty of the region.
The Chateau Royal de Cognac, built in the 11th century, offers historical insights and a glimpse into the past. Cognac also hosts events like the Blues Festival, attracting big-name musicians and creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Moving toward La Rochelle, it was a significant port and stronghold for the Knights Templar and later for the Huguenots. The city is known as the “jewel of the Atlantic coast” and offers historic sites like the towers of Saint Nicolas and La Chaîne. La Rochelle has a vibrant maritime history that influences its present identity as a popular tourist destination.
The islands of Île de Ré and Île d’Oléron, connected by bridges, are known for their oyster and salt beds. These islands have stunning beaches, making them perfect destinations for beach lovers.
Kylie mentions the Battle of Tours, a pivotal event during the Middle Ages which happened outside Poitiers. Poitiers also has connections with Eleanor of Aquitaine and offers historical sites such as the Palace du Duc, which is now the local courts.
Futuroscope, located near Poitiers, is a digital theme park that offers a unique and futuristic experience. It is home to various thrilling rides and attractions. Additionally, the Valley of the Monkeys (Vallée des Singes) near Poitiers is a 44-hectare reserve where monkeys roam freely. The park offers an up-close experience with various monkeys and primate species.
Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne is a picturesque village with a fascinating monolithic church known as the Eglise Saint-Jean. The church, carved into a limestone cliff, showcases remarkable ancient craftsmanship. The village is classified as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France,” recognizing its scenic beauty and historical significance.
Kylie recommends a visit to La Rochefoucauld Chateau, a historic chateau open to the public. The chateau has a rich history, and the La Rochefoucauld family was closely connected to royalty and was involved in World War II resistance. The chateau features a spiral staircase, said to be designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
When you are eating in a local restaurant, try a “plat de jour” for a value-packed meal. Also, try the local goat’s cheese which is a specialty of the Charente and an unexpected bonus from the Battle of Tours. In addition to trying cognac, she also recommends Pinot de Charente, a fortified wine in the region, which is akin to port or sherry.
Kylie encourages visitors to explore the stunning landscapes of sunflower fields and enjoy cognac, pinot, and the unique atmosphere of line dancing.
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Eleanor of Aquitaine
Circuit des Remparts
Cité du Vin
Bassins des Lumières
Travel to Bordeaux, France – Episode 536
Bordeaux City Pass
Hennessy Cognac Tours
Chateau de Cognac
Cognac Blues Passions Festival
Towers of la Rochelle
Aquarium La Rochelle
Museum of protestant history in La Rochelle
Battle of Tours
Palace of Poitiers
The Devil’s Staircase
Les Archives (restaurant in old Abbey)
Abbey of Montierneuf
Futuroscope theme park
La Vallée des Singes
The underground church of St. John – Aubeterre-sur-Dronne
Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean of Aubeterre, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne
La Rochefoucauld, Charente
Robert de La Rochefoucauld
Chez Steph (La Rochefoucauld)
Chocolaterie La Pichotte
Jeux de Pots, Verteuil-sur-Charente
The Mill of Verteuil
Pineau des Charentes
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