REGION: nouvelle-aquitaine

Plains and valleys, towns and villages, lakes and rivers, Charente reveals its beauties and mysteries at every turn. No need for SatNav; just let serendipity be your guide.

Created from the former province of Angoumois, south-west of Saintonge, the department is one of the original 83 created in 1790. It derives its name from the river that flows through it, and is part of the Poitou-Charentes region. Capital of the département is Angoulême.

The department has increasingly been popular both as a place of residence and of tourist resort among British people, in terms of immigration placing Charente behind only Paris, the Dordogne and the Alpes-Maritimes.

There is, perhaps, a sense in which Charente plays second fiddle to Charente Maritime, but that hardly does it justice. Charente is peaceful, perhaps a little introspective. But here that is no bad thing for those who want a tranquil holiday.

On another level, this is cognac country, and no fewer than 75,000 hectares of countryside are given to the vineyards that produce cognac. The eponymous village of Cognac is a delight, as is the agreeable small town of Jarnac.

Beyond the towns and vineyards, undulating farmland predominates, mainly given to cereal production. Remnant woodlands mark field boundaries or the course of minor streams, and sleepy villages have a Marie Celeste air about them, punctuating the countryside with oases of habitation clustered round the ubiquitous churches. Nature, it seems, is always on your doorstep here; there are no mountains or crag-girt hills, just the gentle ways of the paysage, the countryside.


21, rue d'Jena, 16021 Angoulême
Tel: 05 45 69 79 09

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