Charente Introduction

The Charente region in SW France takes its name from the most important river that flows through it: the Charente River. Charente’s two largest towns are Angoulême and Cognac with both being sited next to the river. The Charente department is part of the region commonly known as Poitou-Charentes and is surrounded by the Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Haute-Vienne, Vienne and Deux-Sèvres. The capital of the department of the Charente is Angoulême, a city once famous for its pottery and paper mills but now best known for its international comicstrip Festival.

Growing vines in the CharenteThe Charente: Brandy Country

Probably the most famous town in the Charente is Cognac and the is the obvious place to enjoy a glass of brandy. The grapes which are grown in the region are first of all turned into wine then they are distilled to make the famous Cognac. There are many private distilleries which open their doors to visitors for tours and tasting sessions in Cognac, one of the most spectacular being the Otard distillery where the guided tour offers the visitor a chance to view the remains of the 13th century Chateau de Cognac.

Aubeterre sur Dronne

Church of St-Jacques at Aubeterre -sur-DronneThis picturesque medieval Charente village is one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of France (les plus beaux villages de France). It was built in the Middle Ages on a hillside looking down on the River Dronne and in the village is to be found the finest underground church in Europe: the 12th century church of Saint-Jean. The other religious architectural wonder of Aubeterre sur Dronne is the church of Saint-Jacques – so much in the Moorish style that you might think you were in Morocco!
Left: the impressive carved Romanesque facade of the church of Saint-Jacques – all that remains of the Romanesque church which was ruined during the Wars of religion.