Angoulême & Cognac (and beyond)

The attractions shown below all lie to the south and west of Chez Robineau.

A comic image painted on the gable end of a house

Angoulême: Cité de la Bande Dessinée

(55 minutes from Chez Robineau)

 

A hill-top town with ramparts and views over the Charente valley, Angoulême has become France's centre for comics and cartoon strips, and home to the Museum of Comics. The town also hosts a weekend of classic motorsport, the Circuit des Remparts, with a course up, down and around the town centre. The food market in Marché des Halles is worth a visit, as is St Peter's Cathedral, embellished in the 19th century by the architect of Sacré-Cœur in Paris.


Visit the Cité de la Bande Dessinée web site >

Visit the Circuit des Remparts web site >

A glass or two of cognac

Cognac

(1 hour 15 minutes)

 

The home of the eponymous liqueur, Cognac has several of the major cognac houses, many of which have premises facing onto the Charente river. Visits to the distilleries and their vineyards are on offer, at a price, both here (for Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Martell and more) and a little up river in Jarnac (for Courvoisier). Cognac also plays host to the Blues Passions music festival in early July: Gloria Gaynor, the Pretenders and Deep Purple are amongst the acts playing this year [2024].


Visit the Blues Passion web site >

The Roman Ampitheatre at Saintes

Saintes

(1 hour 25 minutes)

 

Saintes dates back to Roman times, when it was the first capital of Roman province of Gallia Aquitania, which covered a significant part of present-day western France. Evidence of this history can be found in its amphitheatre (built into the hillside above the town) and triumphal Arch of Germanicus (standing by the Charente). The town has a pedestrianised shopping district and walks in parks beside the river.

The Hermione in its dock at Rochefort

Rochefort

(1 hour 45 minutes)

 

Rochefort grew to prominence as the western home of the French Navy, with an Old Town laid out in a grid formation and a dockyard containing the Royal Rope Works, where the ropes and rigging of the French Navy were manufactured. Alongside is usually moored the reproduction of the 18th-century frigate Hermione, launched in 2014, and to the south of the town is France's only transporter bridge.


Visit the Royal Rope Works web site >

Visit the Hermione's web site >

The Old Port and Tower at La Rochelle

La Rochelle

(1 hour 45 minutes)

 

Capital of the Charente-Maratime département, La Rochelle has been a significant seaport for centuries. The Old Port is a key draw, with its towers guarding the entry to the harbour and its bars and restaurants serving tourists and les Rochelais alike around the quayside. The narrow lanes of the Old Town and the fresh produce in the Market are worth exploring, or perhaps a visit to the Aquarium, one of the largest in Europe. Trips out into the bay, especially to Fort Boyard, are available from the Old Port.

A punt on the Marias Poitevin

Marais Poitevin

Coulon (1 hour 20 minutes)

 

The Marais Poitevin is an area of verdant marshland stretching from Niort to the coast, containing a maze of canalised waterways, leading to the area being nicknamed "The Green Venice". There are walks along the towpaths of the larger waterways, and boats or punts can be hired, with or without someone to do the work for you. The main tourist centre is at Coulon, which has more than its share of restaurants, cafés and bars. For a more restful experience, the marais boasts a number of nature reserves with facilities for birdwatching.

A Picture of a Lynx

Zoodyssée

Villiers-en-Bois (1 hour)

 

Specialising in conservation and research of European wildlife, Zoodyssée provides an opportunity to see more than 90 species of animals in a woodland setting: from bears, wolves, lynx and bison, through owls and vultures, to lizards and tortoise. The site offers shaded picnic areas as well as a snack bar. Guided tours in a horse-drawn carriage are also available.


Visit the zoo's web site >

The abbey and gardens at Celles-sur-Belle

Abbaye Royale

Celles-sur-Belle (45 minutes)

 

The present abbey buildings at Celles-sur-Belle dates from the 17th century, but an abbey has been on the same site since at least the 12th century. The abbey was taken on by the local council in 1971, since when the buildings have been restored. Other than the impressive architecture and the formal gardens, the abbey also plays host to a number of cultural events during the year, including exhibitions of art and classical music festivals.


Visit the abbey's web site >

The silver mines of Melle

Melle

(40 minutes)

 

Melle is today a small market town, but towards the end of the first millennium AD, the town was an active centre for minting coins, hosting the French mint for Charlemagne for a while, due to large deposits of lead and silver in and around the town. The silver mines are now open to the public, with visits available to book online. Out in the open, Melle is the east end of the ruban vert, a 9km cycle and walking trail on the track bed of a disused railway, leading to Celles-sur-Belle.


Visit the Silver Mines' web site >

Sites of the City of Bordeaux

Bordeaux

(2 hours)

 

Capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, Bordeaux is our nearest big city - myriad tiny streets to explore, the newly-redeveloped quays for a promenade and the beautiful architecture to adore. There are of course the vineyards to see, but a visit to La Cité du Vin will tell you much more about the cultivation of vines and the craft of wine production. Bordeaux hosts major sporting events, including some of the 2024 Olympic Games football matches, and also promotes the arts, such as being home to the Opéra National de Bordeaux.


Visit the Cité du Vin web site >