Main Towns of Charente Maritime

La Rochelle the biggest of Charente-Maritime towns

La Rochelle

Often referred to as the “White City” (La Ville Blanche) due to its many limestone facades, La Rochelle is a dynamic city with much to see and do. Situated on the Atlantic coast, close to the islands of Ré and Oléron, La Rochelle can best be explored via its four main ports: the Old Port right in the city centre, the commercial port of La Pallice, the fishing port of Chef de Baie and the Marina at Les Minimes. La Rochelle’s heritage with its medieval towers, beautiful buildings and arcades has been well preserved yet this vibrant city sits well in the modern world with its big events – the International Film Festival, the Grand Pavois, the TV Fiction Festival, and the “Jazz between the Two Towers”  to mention but a few. More about La Rochelle



Saintes is a truly historic city which even today still retains some remarkable monuments from its fascinating past. The city was founded by the Romans, known to them as  “Mediolanum Santonum” being in the first century capital of Aquitaine. Still visible today are the the Arch of Germanicus (photo left), the amphitheater (probably the best preserved of the Atlantic coast ), the thermal baths and an aqueduct. Also worth a visit is St. Peter’s Cathedral in the heart of the old town which was constructed in the 15th century. More about Saintes


This naval stronghold on the River Charente was built by Jean-Baptiste Colbert in the 18th century  as a place to supply and defend the French navy. In part this decision was made because the nearby important port of la Rochelle was largely Protestant with close English ties historically and so wasn’t suitable for this role. Today we would think of Rochefort as a ‘new town’. The Maritime Museum is very worthy of a visit and another remarkable building nearby is the Corderie Royal which was originally built as a rope factory and for some time Europe’s longest building measuring a massive 473 metres from end to end. More about Rochefort

Saint-Jean-d'AngélySaint Jean d’Angély

Saint Jean d’Angély is a very charming and atmospheric old town. Here, one can wander amongst the medieval half timbered houses and ancient monuments, through cobbled streets and into the central area where one can enjoy a meal or a drink in relaxed surroundings. The Abbaye Royale or Royal Abbey (photo left) was built in the year 817 and was said to originally house the skull of John the Baptist and this of course made this a centre for of many pilgrims to visit. Still a very popular town with tourists, Saint Jean d’Angély sits amidst fields of dazzling sunflowers very near to Cognac and the vast wine producing area of France. More about  Saint Jean d’Angély

Pons Donjon (keep) in Charente MaritimePons

The medieval town of Pons was built upon a huge rock and is dominated by the 12th century keep which dominates the whole town (pictured left). This is in fact all the remains of what would have been an imposing fortress. In the Middle Ages this was a very important town being a stopping off point for pilgrims on the way to Saint Jacques de Compostela, Pons has a fairly unique hospice from the 12th and 13th centuries which is a UNESCO classified site. Also worthy of a visit is L’église Saint-Vivien, a really beautiful 12th century church.