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Places to visit  
Region Charente   Places to Visit in The Charente Department - what to do further afield



Dominated by the river of the same name, this is a mainly rural area but enjoying an Atlantic climate with dry and frequently very hot summers and cool winters. Part of the Poitou-Charente Region, the coast is nearby to the West and the foothills of the Massif Central to the East with cognac vineyards and sunflower fields in between providing a variety of landscapes. The location is ideal, bringing a wide variety of activities and places to visit within easy travelling distance. Some of the highlights are described below but this is by no means an exhaustive list and we would recommend taking time for research or just tell us what sort of thing you want to see and do and we will be happy to advise. We have provided links to a number of websites for more information and an approximate driving time from Hibiscus gites where appropriate.


A good place to start are the following websites:


Places to Visit in Charente   Places to Visit in Charente
  La Vallee des Singes – (45 minutes)

A great day out for all the family! This 15 Hectare site has more than 350 members of the monkey and ape world roaming free in superb landscaped grounds. There are regular talks and many species are actually wandering amongst the trees or swinging above your heads.


It's lovely to be able to get close to the animals without bars in the way and have them scampering around you as you walk along the paths. And as they're primates, they're full of personality so they're very entertaining to watch. You mustn't touch them, though, and park staff are around to make sure everyone stays safe.


Offical La Vallee des Singes site (in French) or

Alternative La Vallee des Singes site (in English)


Cognac - 30 minutes

Sitting on the banks of the Charente River and steeped in history, Cognac is not just the centre of production of the spirit which takes its name from the town.

It owes its origins and prosperity to the navigable river which allowed its development as a trading port from Neolithic times. Under the Romans it became a centre of viticulture and site of one of the first wine producing vineyards.

The famous cognac houses of Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin and others offer various types of tours of their production facilities, vineyards or a boat trip to visit the cellars and more information is available via the links.




Atlantic and Gironde Estuary beaches

75 to 100 minutes

The number of beaches and seaside resorts within easy reach of Hibiscus Gites are too numerous and varied to list in full so just to give you a feel of it here are some we can recommend.


  La Rochelle
Region Charente - La Rochelle  

This large chic resort was for many years the centre of English rule in this part of France and has played a major part in its maritime history.



Its fortified horseshoe shaped port is now a small marina surrounded by pavement cafes and restaurants of every description and to fit every budget. It is a mecca for shoppers and its old cobbled streets behind the port have the famous colonnades – arch covered shopping streets that were originally built to protect the rich merchants from the hot summer sun and the fierce bursts of winter rain.


Besides the numerous museums, galleries and exhibitions there is a large aquarium and to get around the town there are numerous cycle hire points and you can borrow a bike for free for the first two hours with a deposit. There is even a sandy beach at the end of the harbour wall. Altogether a great place to visit.

  Chatelaillon Plage
Region Charente Chatelaillon Plage  

Just to the south of La Rochelle you will find the beautiful and very family friendly Chatelaillon Plage.



Undiscovered by most British visitors this beach is an absolute gem with 3 kms of immaculate, safe sandy beach. Backed by a promenade with countless places to sit, take a drink and watch the world go by it also has a Casino, racetrack and aquatic centre.

  Fouras Peninsula
Fouras Peninsula  

Fouras is a small town with a beautiful sandy beach below the old seaward ramparts on one side of a peninsula that points to the tiny island of Ile d’Aix.



The island of Aix was the last place Napoleon Bonaparte stayed on French soil before his final capture and exile by the British. It is a car free island of sand dunes, beach houses, bistros and tiny coves and well worth the ferry trip across.


There are 5 beaches on the peninsula with those nearest the town having shops, cafes and facilities while the rest are more remote and natural but all offer a pleasant place to take a paddle or take in the sun. The area is also a centre of shellfish production with an abundance of oysters and mussels available almost everywhere.


Royan and the Gironde


Royan is a large modern beach and resort with everything you would expect from such a place and even a world famous zoo nearby at La Palmyre.



Miles of golden, safe sandy beaches, entertainment for all ages, parks, food and drink of every variety.


South along the Gironde estuary are several pleasant beaches between St Georges-de-Didonne and Meschers-de-Didonne and further south still, small fishing villages that offer a very different but no less pleasant day out.

Royan and the Gironde Royan


  Angouleme - 45 minutes

The capital of Region Charente and originally built on a hill overlooking the river surrounded by ramparts, Angouleme is the capital of the French comic strip industry and many of the buildings are decorated with scenes from comic strips and cartoons.

Every year in January the city is taken over for the annual comic strip festival and it is the home of the comic strip museum - Cité International de la Bande Dessinée et de l'Image.


In November the city is host to Ludoland – a four day festival dedicated to toys and games.


It is also a centre for the arts and history with many exhibitions and museums.


If you like the water but don’t want a day at the beach there is the Nautilus Aquatic Park based on a large freshwater lake on the outskirts of the city where you can partake in everything water based from waterslides to windsurfing.


For further information on Angouleme’s attractions see the city’s own website below.



The Circuit des Remparts
The Circuit des Remparts  

The Circuit des Remparts is an annual event held in September and is one of the biggest vintage and sports car rallies in Europe and one of very few events where cars are raced on normally public roads.

The whole town is taken over by enthusiasts from all over the world and it costs nothing to wander the streets and look at the magnificent machines on display. The weekends events include a tour of the Charente roads around Angouleme and Cognac as well as the races themselves which take place on the hairpin bends and roller coaster roads around the old city fortifications. A must for all car enthusiasts and free to attend although there is a charge to watch the races which includes access to the paddock area.

Circuit des Remparts website


Poitiers and Futuroscope Theme Park – 60 minutes


Poitiers is located in the Vienne Department and is the regional capital of Poitou-Charente.

Located on a hill overlooking the Vienne valley, it is a city steeped in history with architecture from through the ages and it’s narrow ancient streets and alleys provide a great opportunity for an interesting stroll.

It is also a major centre of education and the student population gives it a slightly bohemian feel.

To the North is Futuroscope which is a fascinating theme park based on high-tech film and virtual reality rides and is a great day out for the whole family.


For further information see the websites:



Futuroscope Theme Park

  Eastwards to Limoges - 90 minutes

Limoges is famous for its pottery and china production and the roads around it are awash with factory shops where you can pick up some great deals on everything from the tiniest butter dish to the hugest vases.



On the drive Eastwards from Ruffec you will notice how the landscape changes as the road begins to wind through the hills and wooded valleys, across the fast flowing rivers and past the many fishing and swimming lakes of the area.


The most direct route is via the D740 which takes you via the picturesque village of Nanteuil-en-Vallee, the little market town of Champagne-Mouton and onto Confolens which straddles the Vienne and Goire rivers at the edge of the Charente Department and is well worth a visit. In August it hosts the International Folklore Festival which is a week long extravaganza of traditional music and dance.


For more information go to:


En route to Limoges why not try a different mode of transport to explore the area at the Velo-Rail Experience at the old station in Confolens.


These are pedal driven carts running along an old railway track. There are 17kms of track that take you past the hills, valleys, rivers and viaducts of the Charente-Limousin border with cafes along the way for the all important refreshments.

See the website at:

For an entirely different and very sobering experience, just outside Limoges on the N141 are the remains of the town of Oradour-sur-Glanes.


On 10th June 1944 as the Allied Forces advanced across Europe following the D Day invasion, everyone in the town was rounded up by men of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division and by the end of the day 642 men, women and children had been killed for no reason that has ever been properly explained. Following the massacre the town was looted and every building set ablaze in an attempt to cover up what had happened. The town and all possessions found in the remains have been preserved as a memorial to those who died and a reminder of the futility of war and fragility of life.


For further information, the background to the incident and details of the permanent exhibition at the site more information can be found at:



  Fishing in Region Charente

After eating fine food and drinking great wine the next most popular activity in France is probably fishing and the surrounding area is blessed with many lakes and rivers in which to fish.



Fishing of all types is strictly policed and a licence is required for all types. Licences can be obtained for varying lengths and different types of fish and even vary from area to area but most types of licence can be purchased from the local Mairie (Town Hall).


For further info see the following websites:

Fishing France
Fishing France


  Golf 60 to 90 minutes
There are several public golf courses within a comfortable drive of us. All have clubhouse facilities and generally advance booking is required. Full details can be found on the websites listed.
The four nearest are:
Golf de l'Hirondelle, Champ-Fleuri, Chemin de l'Hirondelle, 16000 Angoulême
18 hole course on the hillside opposite Angouleme
Golf de l'Hirondelle

Golf du Cognac, La Maurie, 16100 Saint-Brice

18 hole course

Golf du Cognac

Golf Club du Haut-Poitou, Parc des Loisirs de Saint Cyr, 86130 Saint-Cyr

18 hole and 9 hole courses set around a large lake

Golf Club du Haut-Poitou

Golf Club de la Prèze, Rouzède, 16220 Montbron

International standard 18 hole course, driving range and 18 hole pitch and putt course.

Golf Club de la Prèze
Further afield are the seaside courses of the Charente Maritime and there is plenty of information available at:
Golf France

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Diane & Steve Puddephatt, La Maison Hibiscus, Villeret, 16240 Souvigne, France
0033 545 71 28 51  |