Charente

Charente is situated in west-central France, to the north-west of the Dordogne department. It is named after the river on whose banks many of its towns have grown up, including the departmental capital Angoulême. A working river in the past, it is now widely used for river cruising and outdoor activities.

Situated in the region previously known as Poitou-Charentes (now Nouvelle Aquitaine), Charente has become increasingly popular over the years. Indeed, it’s easily accessible for holidaymakers, Brits and French alike– about half a day’s journey from Channel ports, with airports at Poitiers, La Rochelle, Limoges and Bordeaux. It is also one of France’s sunniest corners outside the Mediterranean coastal areas, and has one of the mildest climates in France.

The whole region is largely rural, with its landscape consisting mostly of beautiful countryside, with many charming towns and villages and gorgeous river spots.

In the southern part of the region, extensive vineyards provide the grapes that are used in the production of Cognac and the famous local ‘apéritif’ wine ‘Pineau des Charentes’.

Northern Charente

There are some interesting sights here in the north-west, including the abbey at Nanteuil-en-Vallee, Tusson with its medieval monastic garden (and fantastic tea room!), the market town of Ruffec, and of course Verteuil-sur-Charente with its restaurants and its’ incredible Chateau by the river banks.

Buying property in Charente

Until recently Charente was relatively undiscovered, but its tranquil scenery, pretty villages and traditional lifestyle now appeal greatly to house hunters seeking a gentler way of life. It’s a place to enjoy a lazy lunch in a quaint village square, join the locals in a game of boules, cycle through the vineyards, stock up with fresh produce at the market or head out on a wine tasting outing.

In the north of the area, the departments of Deux Sèvres (79) and Vienne (86) make up the historic Poitou region, centered on the ancient city of Poitiers.

Ruffec

The busy market town of Ruffec is situated on the Lien river in the quiet countryside to the North-West of the Charente department. It has a large selection of shops, restaurants and sporting facilities as well as a twice weekly market and a train station. Established in 963, under king LOTHAIRE, when Guillaume TAILLEFER II received the domain of Ruffus or Ruffiacus as a reward for his warlike exploits against the Normans.

Properties - Ruffec

Verteuil-sur-Charente

Dominated by the silhouette of the towers of its magnificent castle, the picturesque village of Verteuil-sur-Charente stretches along the river and is a lovely place to stroll around. The beautiful water mill situated below the castle contributes to the charm of this place. Walking through the village the Rue du Temple leads to the 12th century roman style Church of Saint-Médard with panoramic views back over the village. There is a selection of basic commerce and a good choice of bars/restaurants.

Properties - Verteuil-sur-Charente

Nanteuil-en-Vallée

Nanteuil-en-Vallee is situated East of Ruffec in the North-West of the Charente department. It is listed as one of France's "petite cité de caractère' or 'small town of character'. Nanteuil is an attractive medieval village to explore, with a mix of traditional houses, ancient architecture an 11th century abbey, an arboretum, two good restaurants and basic commerce.

Properties - Nanteuil-en-Vallée

Angoulême

Angoulême is the capital of the Charente department and is located on a plateau overlooking a meander of the Charente River, the city is nicknamed the "balcony of the Southwest". The city’s population is a little less than 42,000 but it is the centre of an urban area of 110,000 people extending more than fifteen kilometres from East to West. Formerly the capital of Angoumois in the Ancien Régime, Angoulême was a fortified town for a long time, and was highly coveted due to its position at the centre of many roads important to communication, so therefore it suffered many sieges. Dominated by the famous Angoulême International Comics Festival, the FFA Angoulême Francophone Film Festival and the Metis Music Festival that contribute substantially to the international renown of the city. Each September the renowned ‘Circuit des Remparts’ sees classic cars challenging the tight corners in the town drawing in spectators and competitors from all over Europe.

Properties - Angoulême

Mansle

Having experienced a troubled past, Mansle still retains some beautiful architectural remains such as the church of Saint Léger with its Gothic portal, its altarpiece or the Renaissance door of the old Mansle Castle. From the bridge over the Charente, Mansle offers a nice point of view on the "site of the islands". The town comes alive with weekly markets and a monthly fair. Artisans, tradesmen, local producers reserve you the best reception. Sporting and leisure equipment: playground for children, base of canoe-kayak, swimming pool with slide, racecourse, floral park, media library and summer night markets, flea market etc.

Properties - Mansle

Aunac

The pretty village of Aunac sits on the banks of the river Charente where canoeist often set off. The village has a new medical centre with pharmacy as well as some basic commerce, bar and restaurant. Each summer the village enjoys a spectacular fireworks show preceded by a funfair in the village centre. There is also an annual ‘Brocante’ where many interesting artefacts and items can be picked up.

Properties - Aunac

Aigre

Aigre was once located on the borders of three former provinces: Poitou, Saintonge and Angoumois. The town was previously a relay on the Post Road that connected Paris to Spain. The population in 2010, was 1090 inhabitants which are known as the Aigrinoises and the Aigrinois. The meridian of Greenwich crosses the western of Aigre from North to South. Aigre offers a weekly market, a good selection of local shops, bars and restaurants.

Properties - Aigre

Champagne-Mouton

The castle of Champagne-Mouton is mentioned from the beginning of the fourteenth century in a squire of the diocese of Poitiers. But this first castle was destroyed during the Hundred Years War the one which exists today, does date back beyond the second half of the fifteenth century. The village has a weekly market and has all basic commerce. Champagne-Mouton found itself in 1940 in the occupied zone near the demarcation line. The seat of a German Commandant was close to the castle.

Properties - Champagne-Mouton

Confolens

Confolens is one of the two sub-prefectures of the Charente department. Confolens is the administrative centre of a largely rural district, which has seen the development of tourism in recent years. Confolens was built around a fortress first mentioned in the eleventh century. It still has picturesque remnants of its medieval past, including city walls and several houses dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It also features a bridge first mentioned in the fourteenth century which crosses the river Vienne.

Properties - Confolens

Villefagnan

Villefagnan is a small working town offering all basic commerce and a choice of bars/restaurants. The micro-brewery “Charent’Ales” is just outside the town where tours and tastings are possible. The town of Villefagnan, populated by 1038 inhabitants, is part of the Ruffecois region, an agricultural region. The lake of ‘Trois Fontaines’ just outside the town can accommodate both fishermen and bathers in a quiet and pleasant 15 acres.

Properties - Villefagnan

Saint-Claud

Before the 13th century, Saint-Claud was called Sivrac or Civrac. The origin of the name of Saint-Claud would come from a hermit, Clodoald, who lived there all his life, and was buried in the religious building of the time (in the seventh century). The village of Saint-Claud was the seat of a barony under the Counts of Rochefoucauld, whose castle was located at l’Age nearby. The village offers bars, restaurants and general commerce.

Cellefrouin

A village to the South East of Ruffec with an attractive Romanesque abbey of St Nicolas dating back to the 11th century. Cellefrouin is a village with just over 500 inhabitants and is close to Saint Claud where a selection of bars, restaurants and commerce can be found. By the abbey is the ‘fontaine Saint-Martial’ lavoir which then feeds into the river Le Son which passes by.

Properties - Cellefrouin

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