An insider’s guide to Charente in Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, and buying property in Charente.
Located in western France in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Charente is a peaceful area with a number of pretty riverside villages, cognac vineyards and unspoilt landscape. Even departmental capital Angoulême is only home to around 50,000 people, although it has a number of popular festivals. Although inland, Charente is also only 45 minutes from the Atlantic coast.
Proudly labelled as one of the sunniest areas in France, Charente has long attracted holidaymakers and expats from all over the world who are seduced by the seemingly endless days of summer sunshine.
Getting to Charente
Car: Angoulême is 737km from Calais
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Places to visit in Charente
Angoulême: Dating back to the 6th century, the history of Angoulême is still clear to see. The old town is home to many attractive buildings, a magnificent cathedral and winding cobbled streets, and a section of the original ramparts still remains intact. Highlights in the annual calendar include the classic car race, Circuit des Remparts, and the international comic festival.
Aubeterre-sur-Dronne: One village that is very popular with holidaymakers and expats is Aubeterre-sur-Dronne. Once a battle site during the 16th-century wars of religion, it is now a stop along the pilgrim route of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle and a popular place to visit on the tourist trail. Designated one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is full of pretty houses, winding streets and café terraces, and it is easy to see why it is popular.
Cognac: Built up along the banks of the River Charente, Cognac is a town of ancient thoroughfares, half-timbered houses and a lively social scene. Whether you enjoy strolling along the river, gossiping over a café, haggling at the market or getting involved in one of the many festivals, you will feel at home in Cognac.
Things to do in Charente
A cognac tasting session: Whether you like cognac or not, a visit to the town of Cognac wouldn’t be complete without a tour and tasting at one of the many cognac houses that line the river. If it’s big names you are interested in then try Hennessy or Rémy Martin, but for a bit of history mingled into your tour, try Otard at the Château de Cognac, the birthplace of King François I, who is widely credited as France’s first Renaissance king.
Confolens folk festival: 600 artists from five continents travel to the town in northern Charente for folk music and dance shows that attract 150,000 visitors every August.
Watersports: The region boasts fine fishing with carp, trout and pike to be found. Before fishing in the river, you will need to purchase a carte de pêche (rod licence). These are usually found in the local tabacs. You can also swim in the Charente lakes or the river itself. The lakes are man-made and were originally created to provide drinking water for the local population. Go and explore Lac des Mas Chaban or Lac de Lavaud.
Buying property in Charente
Along with its hot sunny days, Charente has the advantage of low property prices: the average property price is €109,000, which is nearly €50,000 less than the average in France (excluding Île-de-France) and less than the neighbouring departments of Dordogne and Charente-Maritime.
The area around Confolens in northern Charente is the cheapest area with average property prices of around €80,000 while further south is more expensive with average property prices of €115,000 around Cognac. In Angoulême the average property price is around €109,000.
There is a wide choice of property available, from imposing town houses and large rural estates right down to little two-up, two-down mews houses and compact village houses. Considering the eye-watering price of even modest properties in the UK, Charente offers incredible value for money.
You can find properties for sale in Charente on France Property Shop
For more information about Charente visit http://www.visit-poitou-charentes.com
For more on the French departments, visit: