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Charente

Charente tourism stroll france holiday boat launch barging small barge

The Charente river can be navigated for 147km between Angoulême and Rochefort, incorporating 21 self-service locks that allow amateur sailors great freedom.
The crystalline waterway is edged with a thick curtain of trees, snaking between towns and villages offering plenty of accommodating berthing spots.

sailing Charente canal canals river tourism river

There is also a wide variety of activities to be enjoyed on the river itself, including passenger boats, water-skiing, diving, swimming, fishing and rowing, among other things.

The Charente has been used as a navigable waterway since pre-historic times, with river transport really taking hold here in the 17th Century, despite the poor working conditions.
The locks were properly constructed towards the end of the 18th Century and the towpaths travelled by professional towers and later oxen and finally horses until the late 19th Century.
The majority of the traffic has since been transferred to the railway, although vessels do still travel along the canal, which has been fully redeveloped since 1970, much to the delight of amateur sailors.

Not to be missed

sailing Charente canal canals river tourism river Whatever your tastes or areas of interest, you're sure to find something to suit you throughout your cruise.

  • Why not check out the reconstruction site of the Hermine or the Tonnay-Charente suspension bridge, or even the home of Pierre Loti, the Corderie Royale rope-works or the car ferry.
  • Whether it's Ile d'Aix and Ile Madame that appeal to you or the various forts built to protect the estuary.
  • Spend some time in the nature centres where visitors can observe migratory birds and explore the marshes and the wealth of flora in the area.
  • Various other gardens and museums will welcome you.
  • From Rochefort to Saintes, the region is home to a number of 12th, 13th and 14th-Century churches, the St-Savinien market halls, fortified houses, fountains and wash-houses, not to mention the castles of Crazannes, Taillebourg and Panboy, all worthy stop-offs on your cruise.
 

A few stops along the way

Saintes is rich in ancient and medieval monuments, museums and history.
The 'Ville de Saintes' barge is an identical reconstruction of the vessels that once transported salt, eau de vie and stone, making a leisurely ride on this flat-bottomed boat a real experience.

sailing Charente canal canals river tourism river Between Saintes and Cognac you will sail through charming villages providing a great opportunity for a stroll on dry land or a visit to the local church.
You will have a chance to check out the last two remaining reaction ferries, relics of the trade that once took place here, at Chaniers and Dompierre-sur-Charente, taking you across from one bank to the other.

A relaxed arrival in Cognac.
Be sure to explore the old town and admire its grand town-houses and various historic sites, and perhaps even visit one of the various vineyards in the area for a tasting session.
You'll come away knowing pretty much everything there is to know about double distillation, ageing, blending and the 'angel's share'!

From Cognac to Angoulême you will find a variety of tourist publications to help you get the most out of your trip, with plenty of good times still to come.

 

photos: OT COgnac / JL Clavel