Known as the lake district of France the Lacs de la Haute Charente are so picturesque and you can participate in all manner of water sports, simply relax on the man made beaches or stroll on one of the designated walks round the lakes. The velo rail which runs on disused railway track from Confolens to Roumazieres is great fun to wile away a morning or afternoon - an alternative way to view the countryside or cycle on the very quiet roads and dedicated cycle routes. You can also enjoy some of the lovely country and riverside walks or stroll through several aboretums close by. For the more energetic, there is kayaking and canoeing at Confolens, Condac and Chatain with the more peaceful pursuit of fishing in many of the surrounding lakes and rivers.
The Charente is steeped in history and as such, chateaux are numerous, the most local being the Chateau at La Rochefoucauld and the Chateau at Verteuil both having the same family lineage since 1019. The Meteorite Museum at Rochechouart records the history of the first meteorite to fall on France some 200 million years ago, Oradour sur Glane, a 45 minute drive, is a village which was virtually burnt to the ground and nearly all the inhabitants killed by the Germans in World War 11. The site remains untouched to this day as a reminder of this tragic event. In the nearby town of Chasseneuil, you can learn of the importance of the Resistance in this area during WW11, visit the small museum in the tourist office and the magnificent Memorial erected to all those in the Resistance who gave their lives for the cause.
Local markets are a fun way to enjoy the local produce. There is generally a market held in most towns on a weekly basis. The night market in Montbron, held early August, is well worth a visit. Alternatively you can enjoy one of the many evening markets known as Marche Producteurs du Pays which take place during the months of July and August. We love them! You have the opportunity to buy locally produced meats, fruits, bread and wines, have your meat cooked on a communal BBQ, sit at one of the long trestle tables with other revellers and have a thoroughly enjoyable evening whilst listening to local musicians.
For the avid car enthusiasts, the city of Angouleme, a 40 mins drive, hosts Le Circuit des Remparts – held over three days in mid September, you will be able to experience a huge gathering of vintage and classic cars in the streets and the race round the city’s ramparts. A 15 minute drive to the outskirts of the village of Champagne Mouton, motor cycle enthusiasts can enjoy Moto Enduro eventing held in March. Alternatively, to experience a more worldly event, The Folklore Dance and Music Festival at Confolens, which is a mere 15 minutes drive, is held the second week in August. Over 14 nationalities from all over the world, come to dance and sing attired in the traditional dress - the sheer colours of the various costumes are lovely to see. Day and night the streets throng with huge crowds who attend this famous event and the ambience is unforgettable.
Many species of monkey, roaming freely in a parkland habitat, can be seen at Vallee des Singes which is 40 minutes drive en route to Poitiers, There are also other smaller pet farms and zoos in the area. A three day equestrian event held in the grounds of the chateau at La Rochefoucauld takes place during August.
If you prefer sampling some of the finest brandy in the world, then take an hours drive to Cognac and take advantage of a conducted tour round the Hennessey, Remy Martin or Martell distilleries. Cognac is also a beautiful historic city, set on the river Charente and is worth a visit in its own right. La Rochelle, 2 hours directly west, is the old harbour port of the Poitou Charente where you can eat freshly caught seafood, in many of the waterfront eateries. Brantome, known as The Little Venice of France, is 2 hours south in the next department of Dordogne. Dominated by the 8th century abbey, its charm is evident as soon as you step out of the car, with lovely restaurants overlooking the river – a perfect place for a leisurely lunch whilst watching the boats and birdlife on the water. Closer to hand the historic city of Limoges, about 1 hours drive, is famous for its fine porcelain and glove making industries. Limoges is a very good example of one of France’s finer cities and if its hustle and bustle you seek then this is the place to be, or find peace in one of its many fine churches or the Cathedral.
For those seeking thrills then Futuroscope theme park near Poitiers is the place to be, with its unique concept.