As one of the four departments that make up the now defuct region of Poitou-Charentes, now part of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. Charente may have once gone unnoticed, lost within the Charente Valley until recently. Taking charge, Charente now proudly upholds a reputation for its unspoilt countryside with fields of succulent grapes and beautiful villages. Traditional French rural life has spread through the department offering you an authentic Charentais lifestyle, your neighbours can be seen in the town squares on market days as a morning of shopping turns into a few glasses of wine and a lazy afternoon. The tourism in Charente takes a modern twist, the department is now home to a growing industry of film, graphic design and media, not to mention its unofficial title as the French capital of cartoon and comic strips. Bande dessinée, as it’s known in France has become a highly regarded art form with the capital Angoulême renowned as the “Capital of the Image”.
Perched on a high plateau above the Charente, Angoulême holds the town’s heritage through walking tours, an eclectic collection of museums and panoramic views of the remparts. The charming cathedral city was once dominated by paper mills and although its historic heart will not be forgotten it’s known today for so much more than just its unfashionable paper and slipper industries.
The calendar of Angoulême has two main dates of interest to both its visitors and residents, in January the International Comic Festival is held in town and in September the roads become a race track of vintage cars, part of the Circuit des Remparts. The old town is a natural hilltop fortress and as you head along the magnificent remparts on the southern side you will find the Romanesque Cathedral of Saint Pierre, dating back 900 years. The history conquests in the sixth century in Angoulême is reflected in its architecture as the industrial powerhouse has changed quite significantly throughout the years. Today Angoulême shares its beauty, history, and lively atmosphere with the friendly locals and hardly a tourist in sight.
Connecting the department’s most notable cities, Angoulême and Cognac, is the River Charente where you can enjoy boat trips and cruises sailing through the countryside. As you pass the local vineyards you are reminded that Charente produces a wealth of delicious food and drink. As well as the larger brand names who dominate the industry local grape growers welcome you to discover their hidden charms as you learn the true history behind their tipples.
Towards the north of the department in Charente-Limousin the landscape drastically changes, sweeping vineyards and rolling fields are replaced by mysterious forests and flowering meadows. The high ground and mountains that rule as the heart of France are called the Massif Central, known for its adventurous walks the thick forests are sliced by the numerous rivers and lakes.
Throughout Charente the towns and villages have one thing in common, people visit and live here to enjoy a life in a harmonious setting, surrounded by nature’s gifts. The outdoor activities and excellent golf courses simply add to the perfect Charente lifestyle.