So we’re now well into the holiday time of year with many people taking advantage of the gorgeous region of the Charente.
So what are some of the top reasons to visit? Here’s the Cognac Expert Top 10 list of ‘must see/try’ experiences to whet your appetite for this year, or if you’ve already returned home, to get you planning for the 2013 break, or perhaps even in 2012?
1. Cognac and the Vineyards
Well, you didn’t expect this to come in at any other place than in the top spot, did you? Visiting the cognac houses of the region is a firm favourite for many visitors. Choose from one of the ‘big four,’ or perhaps take a trip to one of the smaller, artisan cognac houses that are dotted around the area. For inspiration head across to our ‘brands’ pages for details on visiting hours for individual houses.
2. La Rochelle
This charismatic small city tempts people back year after year with its superb costal location, picturesque harbour, amazing array of restaurants and a great choice of accommodation. Enjoy various attractions such as the Maritime Museum and La Rochelle Aquarium, or simply walk around the streets, sip a coffee at one of the many cafés and just soak up the atmosphere.
On the limestone hills amongst the vineyards, this delicacy can be found growing on the chalky soil. Once rooted out by pigs, today it’s our canine friends that are used to sniff out these strong tasting morsels (they’re less likely to eat what they find…). The truffle industry has seen a big revival in recent history, and in the winter many truffle markets can be found in the area. The biggest of all of these is held in Jarnac.
4. Churches and Chateaux
The region abounds with historical buildings, many of which it’s possible to visit. One notable chateau is Rochefoucauld, which never fails to delight visitors with its twisted stone staircase and funny little sculptures.
5. Pineau des Charente
The ‘little cousin’ of cognac. Many of the cognac houses also produce their own version of pineau. The cognac houses and/or one of the many caves found in the region will happily let you try a little of this sweet aperitif to see if it’s to your taste before you part with any cash.
6. The Great Outdoors
The Charente is one of the biggest outdoor playgrounds in the world. Whatever your sport of choice – be it fishing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, ariel adventure or a host of other al fresco activities, you certainly won’t be spoilt for choice.
7. Food Lovers Paradise
From goat’s cheese to beef, capons to chestnuts, there’s always a local speciality to enjoy in each area of the regions.
8. Local Markets
Every town in the region plays host to a weekly market. Here you can get fresh, locally produced products such as fruit and vegetables, cheeses, breads and meats. You’ll often find other artisan produced art and crafts on sale here. Don’t forget your camera to capture some memories of a real taste of authentic France.
9. Beach Resorts
– of the Charente Maritime. This wonderful stretch of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean is a wonderful place for a family vacation. Popular with the French as well as other tourists, here you can enjoy a genuinely French atmosphere combined with the thrill of the sea and the sand.
10. Sail the Waterways
Why not take to the water on the river that gave the Charente its name? Choose to sail yourself, or enjoy an experienced crew who’ll also wine and dine you along the way. Spoil yourself with stops along the way to sample Charente cuisine at its best, and while away peaceful hours on deck – bathed in the warm summer sun and just watching the world go by…
Whatever way you choose to spend your visit, one thing’s for sure. And that’s that with so many different things to see and do, a single visit to the Charente is never enough.
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