Top 12 Cultural Attractions in the Charente Valley
The Charentes’ lush meanders and kinks have something to amuse everyone
Related article: High Spirits in the Charente Valley
The longest rope factory in Europe in the 17th century, the Corderie Royale was built beside the Charente in Rochefort in the style of the Palace of Versailles. Watch demonstrations, learn about rope-making techniques and have a go yourself.
Board this exact replica of the Marquis de Lafayette’s frigate L’Hermione and discover how 21st-century artisans worked in 18th-century style. Choose from a free-flow visit or pre-booked guided tour. Buy combination tickets with other attractions online.
The last of its kind in France, this bridge transports cars and foot passengers across the Charente on a gondola suspended by cables that hang from the span of the bridge. Take a unique trip on the shuttle, visit the museum, or just watch from the café.
Built in 40AD, during the reign of Claudius and able to hold 15,000 spectators, Saintes’s amphitheatre still packs an impressive punch. Equally dramatic is L’Arc de Germanicus, built in 18-19AD at the entrance to a bridge over the Charente.
Abbaye Aux Dames
Jewel of Romanesque architecture, the 11th-century abbaye in Saintes has standard audio guide tours alongside a 3D visit, Musicaventure, with words and music. Outside, ride the sensory musical merry-go-round. Come for classical concerts in July.
The oldest house in Cognac has a new multi-sensory guided tour. Choose your own themed journey of discovery, then enjoy a drink at Indigo by Martell, a new rooftop bar that offers the highest viewpoint over the town (May to September only).
Cognac Museum of Arts
This interactive and engaging museum showcases the skills that surround the production of Cognac from viticulture through distillation, cooperage and even glass making. Built into the city walls close to the river moorings, it has a café and shop too.
Comic Strip Museum
Located in Angoulême in three buildings beside the Charente, La Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image is renowned the world over. Displays are refreshed every four months for conservation reasons – so there’s always something new to see.
Painted Walls Tour
Play ‘I Spy’ as you spot the 24 murals painted on the sides of buildings in every district of Angoulême, some of them several storeys high. Take a guided visit or pick up a map from the tourist office, then prepare to be amazed and amused.
Circuit Des Remparts
Angoulême’s annual three-day event celebrated 80 years of classic car racing in September 2019. It includes a parade of some 40 vintage vehicles, a country rally for 200 cars, exhibitions, plus various categories of race around the city ramparts.
Whether you choose an excursion by traditional flat-bottomed gabarre or a self-drive floating holiday home, a cruise on the tranquil waters of the Charente is a must-do for a close-up view of villages, vineyards and wildlife. Check out local tourist offices for more information.
Charente Valley Villages
Between the four main towns, the riverbanks are dotted with historic villages that are perfect for mini excursions to help you get to know the area better. See the water mills at Puymoyen and Nersac; the island castle at Vibrac; and the Benedictine abbey at Bassac.
From France Today magazine
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