Across the nearby Dordogne border you can find the Caves of Lascaux with Europe's best known prehistoric cave-art, and the River Dordogne for canoe trips.
Montmoreau (7.5kms/ 5 mins) –Our nearest small town with a small supermarket & petrol station and weekly market on a Wednesday; also boulangerie, pizzeria, bar, restaurants, public telephone, tourist information, garage, swimming pool and a famous church.
Bordeaux, Saint Emilion and Bergerac are to the South
Bordeaux is a wonderful city to visit and is best approached via the new and very easy to use park-and-ride tram system, giving excellent access throughout the traffic-free cultural, wine and shopping areas. Grands Crus de Bordeaux vineyards within 50 kms.
Saint Emilion has something for everyone, wonderful views, wine merchants (or visit the chateaux direct), train rides through the vineyards, lovely restaurants serving onto shady terraces and many small boutiques selling handmade and local produce, gifts etc.
Bergerac – about 65 kms - Regional airport – classic regional centre of the Dordogne, on the Dordogne River – wonderful medieval and Romanesque houses and churches; excellent wine and shopping and river tours. Fine wines. Golf.
Cognac, Angouleme and Limoges are to the North
Angouleme (40kms) – major regional centre for the Charente, with wonderful Beaux Arts galleries, National Comic-Book museum, medieval rampart walk, Cathedral and fine shopping; TGV station for Paris (2hrs 30 mins). It has many festivals during the year including the vintage car racing around the city ramparts during September. Street music can be enjoyed on Thursday evenings during the summer where local bands set up throughout the streets. There is a buzzing café/restaurant culture in the pedestrian area. There are also parks and a large river beach area.
Riberac – With a world-class food market weekly on Fridays; cinema and festivals of many kinds.
Culinary specialities of the region include Foie gras which is made by a nearby nationally-renowned producteur along with many other types of pate and terrine to try, including wild boar (Sanglier). On the road to Aubeterre you can also find a Walnut Oil producteur, who welcomes sampling. A Sunday tradition of the sale oysters from high street stalls can be enjoyed for a remarkably reasonable price. All seasonal fruits and veg are plentiful at the local markets. However, it is the duck in its many culinary forms, that is the symbol of Charentaise cuisine.
Our local, liquid, speciality is Pineau de Charente – a blend of grape juice and young, fierce Cognac, drunk as an aperitif, ice-cold, and then a bit later with food. Vineyards offering tastings are well sign-posted around the region. There are also two local small independent breweries, offering interesting flavoured beers.
Chalais (10 kms/10 mins) – A larger town with Intermarche (hypermarket), full range of excellent shops including Marche Fermier, tennis courts, library, cinema, general regional food and craft market (fortnightly major fete), chateau ,13th century Romanesque church and cloisters, railway station for Bordeaux and Angouleme (change there for TGV to Paris). Several Bars, cafes and restaurants - some of which have music evenings at weekends and on festivals such as Bastille days.
The bustling traditional French market is held on Monday mornings and is well worth a visit to sample the cheeses, charcuteries, fish, bread baked in wood ovens, olives and a wide variety of pots and pans, clothes, crafts etc.
The imposing chateau with France’s only working drawbridge is set on the hillside. There are exhibitions and tours during the summer.
It has a wonderfully atmospheric high class restaurant (in the dungeon!)
Chalais is also well known for its international show-jumping event which is held in early August.
Aubeterre (15kms) Our closest picturesque town, highly recommended to spend an afternoon on the river beach, swimming or bathing. Canoe hire is available here, where you can leave your car and be taken upstream by minibus for a paddle back with occasional stops for swimming and picnics. Or soak up the atmosphere of the café/bar culture in the pretty town square.
Brossac - about 15 kms distance. A picturesque hilltop town with a small museum of local Roman and early Gallo-Roman finds from the surrounding area. There is a lovely lakeside beach with snack bar, cafés and picnic areas. Canoeing, sailing dinghies and pedaloes are available for hire.
Brossac lake beach also has a restaurant overlooking the beach and is a wonderful setting for lunchtimes or evenings.
Brantome – very picturesque Dordogne town with famous abbey founded by Charlemagne. There are guided boat trips and canoeing available on the river, or tour the famous caves nearby.
One of our favourite days out – take a picnic and sit by the river in a beautiful grassy area or dine in one of the many riverside restaurants – highly recommended.
Many other small towns and villages are within an hour’s drive have markets offering locally produced food and wine. During the summer there is a plethora of farmers markets, producteurs evenings, village festivals and music events.
For the real French experience try a village Producteurs Evening sampling the local culinary delights washed down with the wine of the
Montboyer – (7kms) pretty village with 17th century market hall, weekly produce market and renowned Relais restaurant/bar for good value fixed price menu.
Royan - A beautiful drive through the vineyards of Cognac takes you to Royan, our closest seaside resort with a bustling harbour and large clean beach, neighbouring the larger resort of La Rochelle.