Main Charente Towns

The main town and capital of the Charente Department is Angoulême. Probably the most famous town in the Charente is Cognac and other towns well worth your time to visit include Barbezieux, Chalais and Villebois in the south of the department, the beautiful Aubeterre and its famous underground church, Confolens with its old bridge on the banks of the River Vienne, Montbron, historic La Rochefoucauld and even Ruffec.

Cathédrale Saint Pierre, AngoulêmeAngoulême

Angoulême stands high on a rock above the River Charentes. Not only is it an ancient city but it is also the capital of Angoumois – the district named after it. A long time ago, this charming cathedral city prospered mainly due to two industries: the paper mills employing thousands of workers and also by the pottery industry. At this time it would have been quite a prosperous city but the paper industry collapsed in the 1980s and today only a couple of small mills are in production. Nowadays it is the tourist industry and notably the international comic strip Festival which have allowed Angoulême’s economy to pick up again. Photo left: the Cathédrale Saint Pierre, Angoulême showing its richly carved facade created in the 12th century and depicting 75 figures making it one of the most impressive in the whole of France. Click to enlarge.

Hennessey Sign CognacCognac

Cognac could easily be described as the jewel of the Charente. Of course it is famous worldwide as the home of brandy but it is also here that François the first King of France was born and it was he who gave the town its first letters patent. The municipal park in Cognac was named after King François and in the old town are the remains of the castle where the King was born in 1494.

CognacAs you walk around the streets of Cognac you will be impressed by the 16th century mansions which are still testament to the former prosperity of the town but today Cognac still thrives for other reasons including the International Festival of Detective Films which attracts thousands of visitors every year and obviously due to the cognac production.

The town’s riverside quarter is where you will find the greatest concentration of warehouses where high-quality brandy is matured and this is an industry untouched by recession which is likely to guarantee Cognac’s prosperity as long as there are people to enjoy this delicious liqueur.