Living Magazine - Summer Guide 2022

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MAGAZINE

L i ving www.livingmagazine.fr

THE ultimate

SUMMER

GUIDE

to Poitou - Charentes UPDATE D FOR

2022

g n i t Burs

with IDEAS for SUMMER!


EVERY ISSUE IS FILLED WITH SUNSHINE

READ ONLINE, PICK UP A COPY OR SUBSCRIBE TODAY YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS AN ISSUE! www.livingmagazine.fr


WELCOME!

We’re delighted to bring you the Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022, brimming with inspiration. As we live here, we know where to go, what to see and what you really won’t want to miss. We share the best with you to make your stay here unforgettable...

EXPLORE THE REGION

05 10 53 63 70 72

Explore the Atlantic Coast Island Escapes and Top Beaches Tour Les Charentes Discover Historic Poitou

Vendée

It’s Time for Two Wheels

16

Stately Days Out: Abbeys, Châteaux & Gardens

25

Summer Highlights: Festivals and more

Vienne (86)

Meander along the Waterways

INSPIRATIONAL OUTINGS

DeuxSévres (79)

Charente Maritime (17)

Charente (16)

HauteVienne

Dordogne

40 Fun Days Out for the Family TASTES OF THE REGION

34 38

Incomparably Cognac Pineau des Charentes

PUBLISHER: Kathryn Dobson for Anglo Media & Marketing No material can be reproduced without the express written permission of Anglo Media & Marketing. Articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers. Toute reproduction même partielle du contenu est interdite sans l’accord écrit du magazine. Living Magazine Summer Guide is free / Living Magazine Summer Guide est disponible gratuitement. While all care has been taken in the collation of information for this guide, we recommend that you check the details before leaving home. Maps are for illustrative purposes only.


Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

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Follow the celebrated coast road past oyster beds, nature reserves, historic seaports and a string of sun-soaked golden, sandy beaches

ALONG THE FABULOUS

E N I L T S A O C C I T ATLAN 30 minutes on foot and will give you a great feel for the historic seaport – or see it all from the water by taking the bus de mer ferry running between the two.

IN & AROUND LA ROCHELLE Begin your exploration on the peaceful coastline north of La Rochelle, where L’Houmeau’s oyster beds give way to the golf course of La Prée, overlooking carrelets (traditional fishing cabins on stilts). Continue and you’ll reach the protected nature reserve of the Baie de l’Aiguillon. La Rochelle, ‘The Saint-Tropez of the Atlantic Coast’, retains all the atmospheric charm of its historic past. The entrance to the Vieux Port is still dominated by three naval landmarks from the 14th and 15th centuries: the Tour de la Chaine, the Tour St Nicolas and the Tour de la Lanterne. The former contains a permanent La Rochelle - Quebec exhibition, while there are panoramic views from the Tour de la Lanterne’s lofty observation deck. From the Vieux Port to the Port des Minimes marina takes just

But don’t miss the town itself, tucked away behind the Vieux Port – just walk through the huge fortified gateway of Porte de la Grosse Horloge and into a maze of 17th and 18th century streets. Now pedestrianised, they’re abuzz with boutiques, while on nearby rue Réaumur, rue Admyrault and rue Saint-Jean you’ll discover imposing mansions. Other architectural highlights include the Hôtel de Ville, begun around 1600 (and whose restoration after fire damage is nearing completion) and the 18th century Hôtel de la Bourse. The daily markets in Place du Marché (which include fresh seafood) spill out onto the surrounding streets on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Return to the harbour and between quai du Gabut and quai Georges Simenon you’ll find Le Gabut, an area whose many brightly coloured wooden houses will make you wonder whether you’re actually in Scandinavia. The former fishing port is also home to the fascinating Maritime Museum, the celebrated Aquarium and the Tourist Office, in front of which are rows of bright yellow bicycles for hire. You can explore over 160km of cycle routes in the city and the surrounding area as we do in the June issue of Living Magazine so pick up your copy to follow in our footsteps. End the day in style by relaxing at the harbourside, while the port lights up and restaurants, cafés and bars really come to life. It’s unforgettably magical.

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022 Fouras has sandy beaches and an impressive fortress

SOUTH TO ROCHEFORT & FORT BOYARD COUNTRY

the Marquis de Vauban and François Ferry. It later served as a semaphore station and now houses a museum of local history. During the 1880s the fortified fishing village became a fashionable seaside resort, with a mild, sunny climate, sandy beaches and evergreen oak forest. Soon villas and even a casino appeared, and today Fouras-les-Bains continues to charm summer visitors.

Below La Rochelle the coast road passes Angoulins and Châtelaillon Plage, a family resort created during the 19th century by the SNCF railway company. It has a fine sandy beach, Out on the rocks just off the tip of the peninsula is the Fort d’Enet, boutiques, bars and restaurants plus paddle-board and sailing built between 1810 and 1812 by order of Napoléon and only boat hire. In the nearby marais d’Yves wetland nature reserve accessible at low tide, via a 1.8km causeway. Visible beyond it, the countless bird species including African White Storks and Egrets Île d’Aix is served by passenger boats from Fouras or share some 192ha with Scottish blackface sheep. Inland from Port des Barques, on the southern tip of the Charente river. Angoulins at La Jarne is the perfectly preserved 17th century Château de Buzay, a testament to the great prosperity generated by the Châtelaillon Plage has port of La Rochelle. A few km down the coast, poised on a slender peninsula on the northern extremity of the Charente estuary, lies Fouras-les-Bains. Fouras has been a fortified stronghold for almost 1,000 years, deterring Barbarian, Norman, Dutch and English sea-borne invaders (not to mention occasional pirates) and the sandy shoreline is still dominated by the impressive Fort Vauban (right). The monolithic 15th century donjon witnessed the Siège of La Rochelle in 1627/8 before acquiring a sophisticated network of outer defences designed by two of France’s greatest military engineers –

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sailing and paddle-boarding


Rochefort’s Corderie Royale

TYING-UP IN ROCHEFORT In the 17th century Louis XIV decreed that Rochefort should become France’s most important maritime arsenal and dockyard, to be constructed with military precision and innovation. Its elegant boulevards, for example, followed an octagonal plan, allowing sea breezes to cleanse the town of dust and smoke from dockyard activities. Much of the original street layout and elegant architecture remain, making this a truly fascinating place to explore. The celebrated Corderie Royale (Royal Ropeworks) completed in 1666 has been dubbed ‘the Versailles of the Seas’ and is long enough for entire lengths of rope needed to rig tall ships. It now hosts maritime exhibitions, hands-on rope-making demonstrations, a bookshop and restaurant. The nearby former dockyard constructed the replica frigate Hermione, which crossed the Atlantic in 2015, commemorating her predecessor’s historic voyage in 1780 to aid the American War of Independence. She is currently undergoing repairs in Bayonne but is expected back in the second half of 2022. On her return, Hermione will pass under the Pont Transbordeur de Rochefort, France’s very last transporter bridge. It’s recently undergone major renovation work and you can discover the fascinating history of this vast mechanical wonder at the Maison du Transbordeur. Below Rochefort is Brouage, in medieval times Europe’s most important salt-trading port. During the siege of La Rochelle in 1628 it became the Royal Arsenal, before being transformed into a sophisticated citadel with a garrison of 6,000 troops. However, as the port silted up and the sea retreated it found itself surrounded by marshland. Today the birthplace of Samuel Champlain (founder of Québec) preserves many of its original defensive features, and is home to artists and craft workers.

Samuel Champlain keeps watch at Brouage

Southwest of Brouage lies La Tremblade, which in the 1730s was building sturdy 500-ton vessels for fishing off Newfoundland. The cottages of mariners, fishermen and salt merchants survive (along with the boats and colourful cabins of local oystermen), contrasting with neighbouring Ronce-les-Bains’ chic coastal villas. You’ll find perfect peace on the Côte Sauvage, a protected stretch of coastline just to the north of the town. It’s simply beautiful, with endless white sand beaches, crashing waves, dunes, maritime pine forests – and not a village or town in sight.

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

IN AND AROUND STYLISH ROYAN Strolling among Royan’s stylish architecture, you might wonder whether you’ve stumbled onto a classic French film set. The 1950s market hall is shaped like a vast scallop shell, and daily markets here are among Charente-Maritime’s finest (particularly before 10am). Harder to ignore is Royan’s main church, L’Eglise NotreDame, a defiantly modernist creation built between 1952 and 1956 using prestressed concrete. Inside the nave soars as high as that of Notre-Dame de Paris. Royan’s main beach is a glorious expanse of pale sand known as La Grande Conche. Stroll or cycle beside it on the Boulevard Frédérick Garnier, past a dazzling succession of showpiece coastal villas, from elegant Belle Époque to sharp contemporary. Royan’s surrounding coastal scenery is also worth exploring. The Chemin Douanier (customs walk) reveals sandy beaches, secluded bays and Belle Époque mansions. Follow this shoreline path from the port up to Grande-Côte, via Vaux-sur-Mer and Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, or cycle through shady pine forests among coastal parkland.

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Just below Royan lies a modest headland, beyond which you’ll come to Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, whose tiny sheltered port is overlooked by a 29m-high lighthouse and a memorial to the Royal Navy’s WWII Cockleshell Heroes. Beyond the port are more sheltered sandy beaches en-route to Meschers-sur-Gironde. Fringed by oak and pine forests, this typical fishing village possesses ancient caves (caves troglodytiques) formed by the sea eroding the pale cliffs. For centuries they provided hiding places, first for pirates and shipwreckers and then Protestants during the Wars of Religion. Nearby is another essential visit. The beautiful Romanesque Eglise Sainte-Radegonde sits defiantly beside a sheer cliff face at Talmont-sur-Gironde (below). Built by Edward I of England with echoes of the bastide towns of Aquitaine, the 13th century fortified town is a delight to explore. Round off your visit to the Royan area with a boat ride out to one of France’s oldest working lighthouses, the magnificent 16/18th century Phare de Cordouan, recently awarded UNESCO heritage status (right). Climb 300 or so steps for breathtaking views from the 67m-high summit.


PHOTOS: © DRAC NOUVELLE-AQUITAINE/GILLES VILQUIN

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

Longing to get away from it all..? Just off our sunny Atlantic coast lie four islands, each with its own personality. The Île de Ré, Île d’Oléron, Île d’Aix and the tiny Île Madame are havens for walkers, cyclists and beachlovers...

Île d’Oléron’s distinctive oyster fishermen’s cabins

ISLAND ESCAPES ILE D 'OLERON

France’s largest island (after Corsica) is blessed with hugely varied landscapes, from pine forests, marshland, sand dunes and salt beds to rugged cliffs and long, pale sandy beaches. In summer the sea breezes are heady with the scent of mimosa and oleander. The many beaches are of fine, pale sand, so it’s easy to find a perfect spot to relax. Two beaches with natural settings plus useful amenities (cafés, etc.) are la Plage de Gatseau (near Saint-Trojan, in the east) and la Plage de Planginot (near la Brée-les-Bains, to the north). Stretches of Grande Plage, another popular beach on the west coast, are reserved for naturists, while areas facing the Atlantic are great for surfers. With such varied landscapes, the Île d’Oléron just begs to be explored, and if you follow the coast you’ll enjoy a succession of constantly changing sea views. To see things very differently climb the 224 steps to the top of an impressive lighthouse at Pointe du Chassiron (on the north of the island) and you’ll be rewarded with a truly breathtaking panorama of the coastline. Inland, the landscape becomes marshy and is drained by waterways, where oyster nets hang above muddy banks. There are forests, too, with oaks and maritime pines, not to mention mimosa and feathery pink tamarisk. Cycling is a popular way to see the island – it‘s easy to rent bikes

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and go your own way or join an organised tour. The tourist office has details. The Marais aux Oiseaux bird sanctuary was founded as a hospital for injured wild birds but now has a mix of both wild, domesticated and caged birds. More than 300 species have been cared for, including egrets, spoonbills and the rarely glimpsed kingfisher of the marshes. You’re also likely to see deer. To see a typical Oléron village with colourful cabins and bobbing boats take a trip to Port des Salines. You’ll find oyster farmers, as well as the salt pans being worked for sea salt, another thriving island industry. If you feel like seeing the marshes from the water you can hire a rowing boat. Alternatively, keep your feet firmly on dry land and explore the network of signed footpaths.


Quai de Sénac, La Flotte en Ré

ILE DE RE The Île de Ré combines island appeal with a touch of French chic. Local people – ‘les Rétois’ – are proud of island life, their whitewashed villages, profusion of hollyhocks and near-endless beaches caressed by a turquoise sea. The best beaches (many with children’s clubs) are in the south, Le Bois-Plage being deservedly popular. For more seclusion head SW, near the Phare des Baleines lighthouse, or to the craggier northern beaches (great for rockpooling). You can also enjoy sailing, surfing, windsurfing and more – the local tourist offices know all the best spots. Exploring the many picture postcard villages is great fun. You can drive, but island roads weren’t made for heavy traffic. A greener, more relaxing way to get around is by bike – there are well-signed cycle routes, plus cycle hire points all over the island. Saint-Martin-de-Ré, for over 400 years the island’s main town, is an essential visit, with boutiques, cafés, restaurants and brightly-coloured boats in the harbour. Historically a target for coastal conflicts, the town was fortified, and the ramparts are great for scenic walks, while children love riding the famous ‘donkeys in pants’. Traditionally the animals’ legs

were covered while working in the salt marshes. Ars-en-Ré, a pretty port set beside traditional white cottages with green shutters, is officially one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. Its tall church spire is painted black and white to provide a day-mark for mariners – in summer you can climb to the base of the spire to see the bell chamber and enjoy panoramic views of nearby forests and oyster beds. On the north coast, La Flotte en Ré (another of France’s Most Beautiful Villages) has a port filled with small sailing and fishing vessels. It too has a colourful history – the Fort de la Prée, built in 1626, is the island’s oldest defensive site and played a major role in battles with English forces. L’Abbaye des Châteliers, built in the 12th century by Cistercian monks, was pillaged and burnt, but is now lovingly restored. Children’s treasure hunts explore the village and the seashore – enrol at La Maison du Platin. On the western tip of the island is the 55m-high Phare des Baleines, France’s second oldest lighthouse, built in 1855. Climb 257 stone steps to the top for fantastic views of the Vendée coast, the Breton straits and surrounding marshland. The oldest lighthouse title goes to the nearby Saint-Clement-des Baleines, built in 1682.

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

ILE MADAME

The smallest of the islands is Île Madame, accessible only during low tide from Port des Barques, via a slender causeway (‘La Passe aux Bœufs’), adding a real sense of adventure to the visit. Although just 1km long and 600m wide, its strategic location opposite Fouras, at the mouth of the Charente estuary, meant that in 1704 Île Madame acquired its own military fort, built to reinforce nearby Rochefort’s defences. The tiny island’s history also recalls a sad event in 1794 (the Revolution, saw it briefly renamed l’Île Citoyenne) when 275 exiled priests starved to death and were simply buried where they fell. A white cross of pebbles (la Croix de Galets) marks their mass grave. Today, in happier times, you can visit the island’s Ferme Aquacole to see oyster and sea-salt production, along with small scale organic farming. There’s also a restaurant, a well-stocked gift shop plus B&B accommodation, in the privileged setting of this peaceful spot.

ILE D'AIX

Stepping ashore on the peaceful Île d’Aix today (above and right), it’s hard to imagine that the island hasn’t always been so relaxed. Its strategic position attracted the attention of France’s greatest military engineer Vauban, who planned the village in 1669. Napoléon Bonaparte visited in 1808 and ordered the construction of an indestructible fortress, the star-shaped Fort Liédot, built between 1810 and 1834. Take a guided tour and you’ll learn about the fort’s role in coastal defences, and see poignant inscriptions made by Russian soldiers imprisoned here during the Crimean War. On the south of the island, in the village known as ‘le bourg’, you’ll find the imposing house (now a museum) where the Emperor spent his final days on French soil before going into exile. The Musée Napoléon preserves his room just as he left it, providing food for thought when you gaze from the nearby sandy beaches to the offshore wonder that is Fort Boyard. Begun by Napoléon in 1804, the fort was completed over 50 years later in 1859 (under Napoléon III) and is now world famous as a TV show location.

Île Madame is accessible by causeway at low tide

You can’t visit the fort, but passenger boats to the Île d’Aix often make a point of circling it en-route – if the idea appeals, check this when you book. Despite being just 2km long, Aix packs in rocky coastline, sandy beaches plus forests of pine and evergreen oak. There are many coves, and the best-known beach is Grande Plage, on the western side. Children can hunt for shellfish at Plage aux Coquillages, while windsurfers favour Plage de l’Espérance. Cars aren’t permitted, so it’s easy to explore it all on foot or by locally hired bikes. You can get to the island via passenger boats from Fouras or Port des Barques.

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TOP BEACHES Ideas to help you find the perfect spot...

© CMT17 E. COEFFE

BEST FOR KIDS

AWAY-FROM-IT-ALL

SAINT PALAIS-SUR-MER & GRANDE CONCHE, ROYAN

PLAGE DES SAUMONARDS, ÎLE D’OLÉRON

Five km of safe sandy beaches linked by a coast path. In summer there are kids’ clubs, swimming and sailing clubs, and you’ll find cafés and restaurants nearby. Largest is the Plage de La Grande Côte, with 2.5km of golden sand stretching from Saint Palais-sur-Mer to La Palmyre. Also worth discovering is the 2km-long sandy beach of Grande Conche, Royan, with plenty of space, chic stripy tents and free parking (in August finding a space can be difficult, but there are facilities for cyclists). The beach has lots of services and is ideal for families.

This 8km-long sandy beach is tucked away beyond dunes and pines, and is best reached by bike from Boyardville. Part is naturist designated, so if your style is more modest, just stick to the more family-friendly eastern section.

GREAT FOR SURFING LA PALMYRE The delightfully unspoilt 5km-long beach north of Royan is part of the Côte Sauvage, and is a big-wave magnet. It’s therefore a popular choice for surfers, as is la Plage de Vert Bois, near Dolus d’Oléron. NB: These fine surfing beaches do not have lifeguard patrols.

PEOPLE-WATCHING PLAGE DES MINIMES Close to La Rochelle, and for the beaumonde, it’s the place to be on warm evenings and at weekends. There are views of the nearby lighthouse, and the relatively narrow sands get a daily wash, keeping them pristine.

ISLAND BEACH LE BOIS PLAGE-EN-RÉ, ÎLE D’RÉ A glorious stretch of the Île de Ré’s best sandy beaches, extending for 6km on the western coastline. It has the Pavillon Bleu label, awarded for water quality, beach cleanliness, lifeguard patrols, disabled access and nature conservation. Fringed by sand-dunes and woodland, the beach also hosts a range of summer activities and is a good choice if you’re cycling, as you won’t have to arrive early to find a convenient parking space. Finally, the island’s most important daily market is close by.

EASY ACCESS CHÂTELAILLON PLAGE & SAINT-GEORGES-DE-DIDONNE South of La Rochelle, with a Handiplage award for welcoming those with disabilities (an amphibious wheelchair is available), there are also lots of children’s activities. The 3km of beach has a backdrop of stylish Belle-Époque architecture. Another easily accessible beach is the sheltered Grande Plage, at SaintGeorges-de-Didonne, below Royan.



© ABBAYE DE FONTDOUCE

Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022 Gothic elegance at the 900 year-old

© PHILIPPE SÉBERT

former Abbaye-Royale de Fontdouce

REMARKABLE

ABBEYS CHATEAUX GARDENS

Ancient abbeys, noble châteaux and beautiful gardens are fascinating to visit and your entry fee contributes to the upkeep of those which remain in private hands.....

CHARENTEMARITIME (17)

CHÂTEAU DE DAMPIERRE 17470 DAMPIERRE SUR BOUTONNE This 16th century château’s romantic setting on an island is quite magnificent. The elegant Renaissance architectural features include arched loggia galleries and an elaborately sculpted ceiling. The award-winning gardens include a classically inspired labyrinth maze.  chateau-dampierre.com

&

ABBAYE ROYALE 17400 SAINT-JEAN D’ANGÉLY The skyline of Saint-Jean d’Angély is still dominated by the two monumental towers and western façade of an ambitious Baroque abbey begun in 1741 and never completed. Nevertheless, it’s listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and there’s lots more to see in the medieval heart of the town.  angely.net

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Château de Crazannes has extensive parkland


Exquisite Renaissance gardens at the Château de La Roche Courbon the renowned annual Festival de Saintes. Explore the abbey and enjoy Musicaventure, a sensorial experience based around music.

CITADELLE DU ABBAYE DE FONTDOUCE 17770 SAINT BRIS DES BOIS This restored 900 year-old abbey has stunning Roman cellars and chapels concealed underneath and behind a 19th century manor house. Set in a beautiful parkland setting with formal gardens and a family adventure area.

 abbayeauxdames.org

 fontdouce.com

Saved from ruin by a recent restoration, the 11th century Benedictine abbey features a Romanesque chancel, medieval garden and contemporary art exhibition. The nearby Hispano-Moorish inspired gardens are set over 2 hectares leading down to the lac de Bois Fleuri.

ABBAYE DE TRIZAY & LES JARDINS DE COMPOSTELLE 17250 TRIZAY

CHÂTEAU DE CRAZANNES 17350 CRAZANNES This 14th century château was built on the site of an earlier fortress whose chapel and donjon still survive. Among its illustrious guests were the Black Prince and King François I of France. There are fairytale turrets and an elaborately carved entrance, but inside it’s lavishly decorated and furnished. There are regular guided visits and medieval costume re-enactments.

 abbayedetrizay17.fr

CHÂTEAU DE LA ROCHE COURBON 17250 SAINT PORCHAIRE

Having chanced upon this 15th/17th century château lying abandoned and overgrown, French writer Pierre Loti launched a public appeal, prompting a local man (whose descendants still live there to this day) to purchase and restore it. Marvel at the ornately decorated interiors and award-winning formal French-style gardens. The listed gardens retain elegant statuary – don’t miss the views from above the Italianate water cascades across the lake towards the château. Learn how the whole estate was created amid unstable coastal marshland. There’s also a children’s area with traditional games.

 crazannes.com

ABBAYE AUX DAMES © SEBASTIEN LAVAL

17104 SAINTES This huge former Benedictine abbey, consecrated in 1047, now serves as a musical complex (right) which hosts

DON'T MISS!

 larochecourbon.fr

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022 13th century fortifications surround the Château de Villebois-Lavalette

JARDINS DU PHARE DE CHASSIRON 17650 SAINT-DENIS D’OLÉRON A lofty bird’s-eye view of the garden is just one of the factors which make the Chassiron lighthouse garden remarkable. Styled around the lighthouse like a compass rose are a contemporary ornamental garden and a traditional garden with vines, roses and a potager. The Lighthouse Museum creates the impression of being in mid-ocean. Gardens are accessible to those with reduced mobility.

Rochelle. Despite wartime damage, the fortifications are well preserved and five rooms are open to visitors.  ot-chateau-oleron.fr

CHARENTE (16) CHÂTEAU DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD

16110 LA ROCHEFOUCAULD The striking outline of this substantial chateau still dominates the skyline. Dating from 980, much was rebuilt in the 11th

and 18th centuries, creating an unusual mix of a sternly robust feudal keep married to fairytale style turrets, elegant cloisters and a graceful spiral staircase. Children will love the dressing-up room.  chateau-la-rochefoucauld.com

CHÂTEAU DE VILLEBOIS- LAVALETTE 16320 VILLEBOIS-LAVALETTE Seven towers enclose a 13th century fortified courtyard. Visit the 12th century chapel and contemplate panoramic

 st-denis-oleron.com

JARDINS DE LA BOIRIE 17310 SAINT-PIERRE D’OLÉRON A huge selection of ornamental plants, trees and shrubs flourish in the Île d’Oléron’s mild climate. Gardeners will find lots of inspiration in tranquil settings which burst with colour.  lesjardinsdelaboirie.com

CHÂTEAU D’OLÉRON 17480 LE CHÂTEAU D’OLÉRON A strategic naval post since the 12th century, the citadel was built on the site of a medieval fortress by order of Richelieu after the siege of La

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Jardins du Phare de Chassiron



Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

DON'T MISS! CHÂTEAU DE LA MERCERIE 16320 MAGNAC-LAVALETTE-VILLARS Dedicated volunteers are patiently restoring for future generations an amazing, long abandoned Versaillesstyle showpiece below (complete with rose garden).  chateaudelamercerie.fr

JARDINS DU CHAIGNE 16120 TOUZAC Bordered by the Grande Champagne region’s productive vineyards, these formal gardens display French elegance and refinement.  jardinsduchaigne.com

DEUX-SEVRES (79)

CHÂTEAU DE CHALAIS 16210 CHALAIS

79380 SAINT-ANDRÉ-SUR-SÈVRE

Originally owned by the TalleyrandPérigord dynasty and recently restored by French celebrity Yves Lecoq.

Begun in the 14th century, with a magnificent 28m-high keep plus a courtyard surrounded on three sides by farm buildings added 300 years later. Summer events include colourful costume re-enactments from medieval life in the château plus music, dancing, etc.

JARDINS DU LOGIS DE FORGE 16440 MOUTHIERS-SUR-BOËME The 14th-18th century logis and paper mill sit beside a lake in a charming setting among wooded hills. The garden was inspired by the owners’ visits to Japan. Green and full of wild flowers, there are water features and varied perspectives.  jardinsdulogisdeforge.com

CHÂTEAU DE ROCHEBRUNE

 chateaudevilleboislavalette

 infiniment-charentes.com

CHÂTEAU DE SAINT-MESMIN

 chateaudechalais.fr

views. Excavations are uncovering historical artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages.

moat. In the 19th century owner General Count Dupont fought for Napoléon Bonaparte, and his souvenirs are displayed.

16150 TAGNAC Seat of the Lords of Chabanais during the 11th and 13th centuries, this classic château has four round towers and a

 chateau-saintmesmin.com

ABBAYE ROYALE DE CELLES-SUR-BELLE 79370 CELLES-SUR-BELLE This magnificent 17th century abbey opens its gardens, cloisters, refectory, kitchens and courtyard to visitors, who can also visit the Romanesque crypte of the 12th century of the Eglise SaintHilaire. Its cathedral-like replacement, the adjoining abbey church, is well worth seeing, as is the museum of the bygone age of motorcycling in the Espace Collections Motos Anciennes.  abbaye-royale-celles.com

Château de’Oiron contains fabulous art collections

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CHÂTEAU D’OIRON 79100 OIRON Most of this magnificent Renaissance château was built during the 16th century by François 1’s Advisor Artus Gouffier. He was an art connoisseur, and established a tradition which continues to this day. The Italianate interiors include one of the most impressive galleries in France. Their exquisite decoration features large mid-16th century Classically-themed paintings, and there’s also a renowned museum of modern art.

Château de Touffou on the banks of the River Vienne

 chateau-oiron.fr

ARBORETUM DU CHEMIN DE LA DÉCOUVERTE

Revolution. Now it has been beautifully restored to its former glory.

sumptuous reception rooms, kitchens and a 17th century ice room.

A circular discovery trail passes celebrated ancient silver mines (Mines d’Argent des Rois Francs) plus some of Melle’s many historic buildings. The full 6.5km chemin has 1,800 trees and 250 rose varieties.

 chateau-javarzay.fr

 chateaudesormes.fr

JARDINS DU GUÉ

JARDIN DU PRIEURÉ DE LAVERRÉ

 bit.ly/MelleArb

CHÂTEAU DE JAVARZAY

This ‘Jardin Remarquable’- listed park on the banks of the Thouet river covers 4 Ha and has 7 beautiful themed gardens. Riverside picnics allowed.

79110 CHEF-BOUTONNE

 jardinsdugue.eu

79500 MELLE

This pale stone beauty in the market town of Chef-Boutonne was one of the very first Renaissance châteaux in Poitou (below). Completed around 1515, it was owned by several noble families before suffering virtual abandonment after the French

79390 LHOUMOIS

VIENNE (86) CHÂTEAU DE TOUFFOU 86300 BONNES Set romantically beside the Vienne river, this beautifully maintained 1215th century château is surrounded by landscaped gardens listed as ‘Jardins Remarquables’. Château visits include the François I tower decorated with frescoes, the bakery, kitchens, chapel and two 12th century donjons. The planting plan of three formal gardens laid out by Italian designer Paolo Pejroné changes each year.  touffou.com

CHÂTEAU DES ORMES 86220 LES ORMES Dominating the Vienne valley since 1642, this exquisite château welcomed many famous individuals, including Voltaire. Visit highlights include a marble gallery,

86340 ASLONNES Allow time to visit this magical place and meet its creator, who encourages exuberant plants to grow where they will in small enclosures between waterways and arbours. The colour theme changes annually.  parcsetjardins.fr

PARC DE LA BELLE 86160 MAGNÉ Behind an elegant country mansion lie 12ha of gardens with over 20,000 plants and trees, a willow maze, rose garden and more. Children will love water jets, La Petite Ferme, with goats and Poitou donkeys, plus a large play area.  parcdelabelle.com

ABBAYE DE LA RÉAU 86350 SAINT MARTIN L’ARS This 12th century abbey was fortified during the Hundred Years’ War and witnessed turbulent times. While being lovingly restored recently, it’s now a family-friendly visitor attraction.  abbayedelareau.com

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CHÂTEAU DE CIBIOUX 86250 SURIN On a tranquil site occupied since the

8th century, this enchanting privately owned château preserves both Gothic and Renaissance elements, including a graceful Italianate loggia.  chateau-de-cibioux.com

CHÂTEAU DE LA MOTHECHANDENIERS 86120 LES TROIS-MOUTIERS Built in the 13th century and abandoned in the 18th, this fairy-tale chateau was rebuilt in the 19th century before being ravaged by fire in 1932. It has now been rescued once more, this time by nearly 28,000 individuals from around the globe who participated in a recent crowd-funder to purchase it and begin the restoration works. Visit the park and learn about the chateau’s past and the plans for its future.  mothe-chandeniers.com

DON'T MISS! ABBAYE DE SAINT-SAVIN 86310 SAINT-SAVIN

This vast Romanesque abbey sits beside the Gartempe river is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its beautifully-preserved 12th century frescoes have been described as the ‘Romanesque Sistine Chapel’.  abbaye-saint-savin.fr

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SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS Visit unique venues with a host of vibrant events - many are free, while others offer outstanding performances at affordable prices. After 2 yeras of cancellations it is wonderful to see the summer calendar so full. Here are our picks from across the region for 2022...

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06.07 > 10.07.22

BELLE FACTORY PRÉSENTE

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SIMPLE MINDS FRANCIS CABREL — LIAM GALLAGHER BEN HARPER & THE INNoCENT CRIMINALS GÉRARD LANVIN — MARCuS kING RoDRIGo Y GABRIELA — LARkIN PoE LILLY WooD & THE PRICk VICIouS STEEL FuEL BAND

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Vaux-Rouillac (16)

BLUESPASSIONS.COM

www.lapalene.fr Un festival pas comme les autres !

www.hopeassoc.org

HOPE SHOP 79, SAUZÉ-VAUSSAIS 2 route de Vauthion, 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea / Street Party Friday 3rd June. Tickets 20€ For tickets email shopseventynine4hope@gmail.com HOPE SHOP 16, CONFOLENS 51 route de Confolens, La Tulette, 16500 Ansac-sur-Vienne

Platinum Jubilee Street Party Sunday 26th June from Mid-day Tickets and pricing available from Tuesday 3rd May Contact the shop email shopsixteen4hope@gmail.com

Hope Association Charity Shops - helping animals in need

Hope Shop 87, Eymoutiers 2 rue de la Vielle Tour, 87120 Eymoutiers shopeightyseven4hope@gmail.com generalenquiries4hope@gmail.com

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Summer Highlights One of the joys of summer is the packed agenda of festivals summer events. From chart-topping international groups to outstanding classical musicians, world dance and music troupes, photography and art exhibitions and even Highland Games, there is something for everyone this summer....

MUSIQUES MÉTISSES 3-5 JUNE ANGOULÊME (16) World music and literature festival with performers and authors coming from around the globe.  musiques-metisses.com

FESTIVAL DE MELLE 10-19 JUNE MELLE (79) Two weekends of classical music concerts held in the Romanesque Saint-Savinien church, founded in 1040.  festivaldemelle.com

FESTIVAL À L’OUEST 10-12 JUNE POITIERS (86) Street festival in west Poitiers with exhibitions, street theatre and more.  lablaiserie.org

HIGHLAND GAMES 11-12 JUNE BRESSUIRE (79)

A weekend of Celtic sports & music. International Highland Games competitions plus pipe bands, Scottish & Irish dancers and a Ceilidh with Kilteel from Ireland.  highlandgames-france.eu

FREEMUSIC 17-19 JUNE LAC DE MONTENDRE (17) Popular modern music festival which attracts over 20,000 revellers. This year’s line-up includes Damso, Feu! Chatterton, Jungle and M.I.A.  freemusic-festival.com

LES SARABANDES 24-26 JUNE VAUX-ROUILLAC This year the street art and music festival visits Vaux-Rouillac. The whole village will be taken over by numerous artists presenting a wide range of styles in gardens, barns and open spaces. The eclectic events programme is popular with families, and there are refreshments on site. Opening times and prices change each day so check the website for details.  sarabandes.lapalene.fr

FESTIVAL MOUL’STOCK 24-25 JUNE CHARRON (17) 10th edition of this rock festival with a side helping of over 2 tonnes of mussels!  moulstock.fr

NOTES EN VERT 24-25 JUNE PÉRIGNY (17) Eco-festival with bio market and three nights of ticketed concerts featuring La Rue Kétanou, Danakil and more. Entry to the Nature Village is free.  notesenvert.fr

NIORT JAZZ FESTIVAL 29 JUNE – 1 JULY NIORT (79) Held at Parc Pré-Leroy, ticketed concerts include Popa Chubby, Roberto Fonseca and Melody Gardot with free concerts each day too.  niortjazzfestival.com

FESTIVAL RESPIRE JAZZ 1-3 JULY MONTMOREAU (16)

La Roche à Foucauld

Jazz concerts in the grounds of the Abbaye de Puypéroux.  respirejazzfestival.com

FEMA 1-10 JULY LA ROCHELLE (17) The 50th edition of this international film festival will pay tribute to legendary actor and filmmaker Alain Delon.  festival-larochelle.org

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You’ll awaken the adventurer within, and become You’ll awaken the adventurer within, and become an astronaut with Destination Mars. Thrills guaranteed! an astronaut with Destination Mars. Thrills guaranteed! You’ll be whisked away by a mind-blowing storm You’ll be whisked away by a mind-blowing storm in Chasseurs de Tornades*, the only attraction in Chasseurs de Tornades*, the only attraction of its kind in the world, NEW at Futuroscope. of its kind in the world, NEW at Futuroscope. With The Extraordinary Journey, you will fly around With The Extraordinary Journey, you will fly around the world with your legs dangling free. the world with your legs dangling free. As the evening falls, you’ll dream with the new evening show, As the evening falls, you’ll dream with the new evening show, The Key to Dreams, awarded the 2021 IAAPA Brass ring award. The Key to Dreams, awarded the 2021 IAAPA Brass ring award. Your curiosity will take you into a spectacular world ! Your curiosity will take you into a spectacular world ! * Tornado Chasers - Opening date: contact us * Tornado Chasers - Opening date: contact us

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*R00113LGFP22* *R00113LGFP22* (1) The voucher is valid for Adults (aged 13 and (1) The voucherover) is valid Adults(aged (aged513toand andfor children 12), exclusively over) and children (aged 5 to 12), exclusively for a 1-day dated-entry ticket purchased on for a 1-day dated-entry purchased the day ofticket visit and must beon handed in at the the day of visitFuturoscope and must beticket handed in at the booths between 1st June st June Futuroscope ticket booths between 1 2022 and 2nd January 2023* (single-use nd 2022 and 2 January voucher2023* - 1 to(single-use 5 visitors only per voucher, voucher - 1 to for 5 visitors only persame voucher, a visit on the day). Discount for a visit on the same day). Discount does not apply to other ticket types, does not applydated-entry to other ticket types, tickets booked in advance, dated-entry tickets booked in advance, undated tickets, or Group tickets. undated tickets, or Group Offer cannottickets. be applied retroactively Offer cannot be applied retroactively or combined with other offers. or combined with other *Check theoffers. opening dates calendar *Check the opening dates calendar on futuroscope.com on futuroscope.com

Please check all updated Please check all updated information and information and conditions of admission conditions of admission on futuroscope.com on futuroscope.com

© Glory Paris. D. Laming, architecte, Futuroscope. Aérophile, Calune.

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© Glory Paris. D. Laming, architecte, Futuroscope. Aérophile, Calune.

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Summer Highlights a bio market.  anglessuranglin.com

BOUILLEZ !

LES HEURES VAGABONDES

1-2 JULY

8 JULY-13 AUGUST

BOUILLÉ SAINT-PAUL (79)

THROUGHOUT VIENNE (86)

Street theatre, arts and circus acts can be found around all corners as this village as this village comes alive.

11 free concerts throughout the Vienne département over the summer months – artists include Bénebar and Les Négresses Vertes.

 bouillez.net

AUX ORMES MOZARTIENS ! 2-4 & 8-10 JULY LES ORMES (86) Chamber music festival in the 18th century Relais de la Poste offering the opportunity to meet the musicians.  laposteauxchevaux.com

FESTIVAL AU VILLAGE

 lesheuresvagabondes.fr

RIFE 12-16 JULY SAINT-MAIXENT D’ECOLE (79) Les Rencontres Internationales Folkloriques Enfantines brings together children from across the world to celebrate music and dance.

13-17 JULY LA ROCHELLE (17) One of the top music festivals in France, featuring a wealth of popular French talent. More than 100 concerts are planned over five days and nights with many of them free, including shows for younger audiences and emerging talents. Headliners in 2022 include Angèle, Mika, Julien Doré and OrelSan.  francofolies.fr

FLIP

 rife.asso.fr

13-24 JULY PARTHENAY (79)

2-9 JULY BRIOUX-SUR-BOUTONNE (79)

JOURNÉES ARTISANALES

A week of festivities with theatre, music, food and good times taking over the village streets.

14-15 JULY

 festivalauvillage.fr

FRANCOFOLIES

ANGLES SUR L’ANGLIN (86) See craftspeople from all over France demonstrating traditional skills. This year adds displays of steam-powered vehicles, an exhibition of famous women and

The Festival Ludique International de Parthenay (‘FLIP’) fills the town centre with thousands of gamers and street artists celebrating all things playable, from board games to video games.  jeux-festival.com

FESTIVAL DU SOUFFLE 15-17 JULY

DON'T MISS!

CELLES-SUR-BELLE (79) 22 06.07 > 10.07. ITION

RY PRÉSENTE BELLE FACTO

Classical music concerts at the Abbaye Royale featuring saxophonists and organists with a family concert on Saturday afternoon and a market on Sunday.

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 bluespassions.com

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16-17 JULY

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PASSIoNS

LA ROCHEFOUCAULD (16)

Siret: 441 136 330

PRIx CoGNAC

LA ROCHE À FOUCAULD

113 040 - 113 041.

A firm favourite in festival calendars, the heart of Cognac welcomes renowned international artistes to play in the town’s gardens. This year’s headliners include Simple Minds, Francis Cabrel and Liam Gallagher with a range of emerging talents supporting them on the three stages. Ticket-only evening concerts are backed-up by many more performances (some free) in venues around the town.

 festivaldusouffle.com

sarl. Licences 2-3:

COGNAC (16)

SIMPLE MINDS GHER L — LIAM GALLA RE B A C IS C N A FR ALS NoCENT CRIMIN IN E TH & ER RP BEN HA G — MARCuS kIN GÉRARD LANVIN E IELA — LARkIN Po R B A G Y o IG R RoD THE PRICk LILLY WooD & FuEL BAND VICIouS STEEL

Belle Factory scic

6-10 JULY

BLUESPASSIO

NS.COM

This costumed medieval fête includes street theatre, falconry displays, craft workshops, period music and seige engines, plus a hog roast. Troupes of performers present a medieval procession in the town centre.  larocheafoucauld.fr

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Summer Highlights LES ARTS AUX JARDINS

FESTIVAL DE SAINTES

16-17 JULY

16-23 JULY

BONNES (16)

SAINTES (17)

Free exhibition of art in local village gardens.

Series of classical concerts performed in and around Saintes’ atmospheric Abbaye aux Dames and performed by soloists and ensembles from across Europe.

 FB: lesartsaujardin

 festivaldesaintes.org

SURGÈRES BRASS FESTIVAL 16-19 JULY SURGÈRES (17)

FESTIVAL TRAVERSE

Held at the Château de Surgères, visiting artists include Cesária Évora Orchestra and Just About Fun-K. The programme includes both ticketed and free concerts.

19-24 JULY

 surgeresbrassfestival.com

DON'T MISS! MEETING AÉRIEN DE COUHÉ-VÉRAC 24 JULY COUHÉ (86) Classic aircraft take to the skies at this meeting which attracts pilots from across Europe. Refreshments available on site or bring your own picnic – and don’t forget your sunscreen and hat!  meeting-couhe.com

HAUT VAL DE SÈVRE (79)

UN VIOLON SUR LE SABLE 23, 26 & 29 JULY ROYAN (17)

19 JULY - 7 AUGUST

Three nights of concerts on the main beach at Royan, each performance attracting up to 50,000 devotees and culminating in spectacular firework displays. All three concerts have unique and varied programmes with international soloists, and all are free. Just bring a rug or chair and find your spot on the sand, or buy a reserved seat in the stands.

CELLES-SUR-BELLE (79)

 violonsurlesable.com

7 communes host family-friendly spectacles and exhibitions.  cc-hautvaldesevre.fr

LES ESTIVALES D’ARTENETRA

A series of classical music concerts and master-classes in the beautiful Abbaye de Celles-sur-Belle and surrounding villages.  artenetra.com

FESTIVAL LABYRINTHE DE LA VOIX 27-31 JULY ROCHECHOUART (17)

STÉRÉOPARC 22-23 JULY ROCHEFORT (17) Featuring 100% electro in the grounds of the Corderie Royale. Timmy Trumpet and Boris Brejcha join other acts.  stereoparc.com

FESTIVAL DRÔLES DE RUES 23-24 JULY JONZAC (17) Eclectic free festival for all the family in front of the Château de Jonzac.  jonzac-haute-saintonge.com

www.livingmagazine.fr

Meet in the park of the Château de Rochechouart for more than ten ticketed and free concerts including Celtic trad from McDonnell Trio and Blues from Tom Woods.  labyrinthedelavoix.fr

AU FIL DU SON 28-30 JULY CIVRAY (86) Enjoy popular groups on the banks of the Charente as this festival takes over the town. Bring your tent and stay overnight or all weekend. 2022 welcomes OrelSan, Vald, Louis Bertignac and more.  aufilduson.com

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Summer The teamHighlights at ANB IMMOBILIER would be delighted to assist you with the sale or purchase of your property.

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contact@anb-immobilier.com | Page 31


Summer Highlights FÊTE DU COGNAC

JAZZ EN FEUX

28-30 JULY

1-4 AUGUST

COGNAC (16)

LE CHÂTEAU-D’OLÉRON (17)

Set on the historic quayside of Cognac, this festival event celebrates fine local food & drink including melons, oysters, pineau and, bien sûr, cognac. Dine under the stars and enjoy big-stage concerts.

4 evenings of jazz in the town centre and the Citadelle culminating in a spectacular firework display after a concert by Michel Jonasz.

 lafeteducognac.fr

 ile-oleron-marennes.com

COUPE D’EUROPE DE MONTGOLFIÈRES 4-7 AUGUST MAINFONDS (16) World class hot-balloon competition with 4 days of flights before an air show on Sunday afternoon. 50 crews with over 25 international pilots compete in a series of tests designed to test all aspects of hot air ballooning.  mainfonds.com

FEST’Y BLUES 5-7 AUGUST ST-JEAN-D’ANGELY (17)

L’HORIZON FAIT LE MUR

100% blues festival set in the cloister courtyard of the Abbaye-Royale, with a series of concerts.  stjeanblues.wordpress.com

29-31 JULY LA LAIGNE (79)

FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE CONFOLENS

3 days of concerts by emerging talents on the edge of the Marais Poitevin featuring 20 acts each day.

9-15 AUGUST

 l-horizon.fr

CONFOLENS (16)

JAZZ AU PHARE

64th edition of this colourful annual festival featuring folk musicians and dance troupes from around the world on stages throughout the town.

3 - 7 AUGUST ÎLE DE RÉ (17) The 13th edition of this series of concerts in styles from Django to Rap in a sensational setting beside the Phare des Baleines lighthouse.  jazzauphare.com

 festivaldeconfolens.com

performances of Rossini’s Barber of Seville featuring international soloists.  operasanxay.fr

SYMPHONIE D’ÉTÉ 10-12 AUGUST FOURAS-LES-BAINS Classical music in beautiful atmospheric settings.  symphoniedete.com

MAD HATTER’S WONDERLAND FESTIVAL 12-14 AUGUST CAUNAY (79) Eclectic mix of bands with on-site refreshments and meals at this everpopular venue in a beautiful rural setting. Popular acts from the festival scene in both France and the UK perform across a weekend of ticketed concerts - bring your tent and stay in the campsite to enjoy the full festival experience.  madhatterswonderlandfestival.com

ART ET BOIS BRÉVILLE 27-28 AUGUST

LES SOIRÉES LYRIQUES

BRÉVILLE (16)

9, 11 & 13 AUGUST

20th anniversary of this celebration of everything to do with wood. Workshops, markets, exhibitions and sculptures.

SANXAY (86) The wonderful Sanxay Gallo-Roman theatre is the venue for three open-air

www.livingmagazine.fr

 art-bois-breville.com

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Summer Highlights FESTI’CLASSIQUE

DON'T MISS!

27 AUGUST-22 SEPTEMBER JARNAC (16)

LA FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE

Classical music concerts featuring international newcomers held in the grounds of cognac houses. And, of course, cognac tastings.

21 JUNE THROUGHOUT THE REGIONS The solstice is a national day of celebration of music, with concerts (amateur and professional) across the region. Check locally for details.

 festi-classique.fr

COUP DE CHAUFFE

14 JULY THROUGHOUT THE REGIONS A national holiday and a day for celebration. Wherever you are in the region there will be fireworks nearby once darkness falls so check local noticeboards or ask at the local tourist information office for details.

© SAMUEL-REGAN-ASANTE / UNSPLASH

2-10 SEPTEMBER

LA FÊTE NATIONALE

COGNAC (16) Be enthralled by lively street theatre in all its forms in the historic streets of Cognac. Free entertainment all weekend.  avantscene.com

L’IMPRÉVU FESTIVAL 6, 7 & 8 SEPTEMBER MONTEMBOEUF The unexpected is on the menu - theatre, music, circus, cinema, dance. Just about anything creative and entertaining is possible, in fact!  imprevu-festival.fr

CIRCUIT DES REMPARTS 16-18 SEPTEMBER ANGOULÊME Classic Monaco-style motor racing around the narrow, winding Angoulême ramparts. There’s a Friday evening Concours d’Elégance, a Charente Touring Rally on Saturday and racing on Sunday.  circuitdesremparts.com

© ANTHONY SEGAUD/AUSTRAL

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© LAVAL SÉBASTIEN/CHARENTE TOURISME

Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

© S.OUZOUNOFF / CHARENTE TOURISME

INCOMPARABLE

Château Courvoisier, Jarnac Château Courvoisier, Jarnac

COGNAC

The historic riverside towns of Cognac and Jarnac are home to grand cognac houses which have long pursued a shared passion for one of our region’s most celebrated exports... SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT Despite the passage of time, creating fine cognacs retains a certain mystique, not least the complex blending and other processes which define the essential character of vintage cognacs. It’s no surprise that they’re closely guarded secrets. The fascinating story of cognac began when 17th century Dutch merchants discovered, quite by chance, that distilled wines improved dramatically after storage in oak barrels. Armed with this knowledge, local producers developed the classic ‘double distillation’ process and before long the brandy they produced came to acquire the name of the town of its origin. Like Champagne, cognac production is strictly controlled in order to preserve its reputation, heritage and quality, and can only be produced in one of the region’s six terroir areas defined formally in 1909 to prevent ‘lesser’ grapes and brandy producers compromising the rigorous standards required. In 1936 cognac

www.livingmagazine.fr

received Appellation d’Origine Controlée or AOC status. In 1860 geologist Henri Coquand, working with a taster, defined precise boundaries for both ‘Grande Champagne’ and ‘Petite Champagne’ (the ‘Premier Cru’ growth areas), thereby establishing formal geographical boundaries for cognac production. Only three specific grape varieties can be used to produce cognac: Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc (sometimes referred to as ‘Saint-Emilion’ in France). The most celebrated cognacs have high percentages of Ugni Blanc grapes, which are lovingly cultivated and tended in the Premier Cru area. The vines are nourished by the chalky soils and sunny climate, and grapes are harvested in early October, gently pressed then allowed to ferment for several weeks before being distilled twice. Many producers still use traditional pot-bellied stills or ‘alembics’. The second distillation - ‘la bonne chauffe’ - enhances both complexity and aromas.


Tasting tip

© CHARENTE TOURISME

When tasting co gnac, first inhale while ho lding the glass by its stem. Now swirl the cogna c to blend the aro mas before inhaling again. Finally, taste with the tip of y our tongue before drinking .

Historic quaysides at Cognac The resulting eaux-de-vie spirits are then aged in large barrels of oak from the Forêt de Tronçais in central France or from the neighbouring Limousin region. Inevitably, during ageing a proportion of the spirit will be lost through evaporation, and is known as ‘la part des anges’ or ‘the angels’ share’. The evaporating fumes nourish a fungus which blackens the pale limestone around the doorways and windows of the warehouses or ‘chais’ – an unmistakable sign of cognac production. After a minimum two-year ageing period at a more or less constant temperature, the barrels’ precious contents will have acquired their

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

DECODING THE LABEL Decoding the letters on the label. The letters which follow ‘cognac’ tell you clearly how long it has been aged: VS (Very Special) is the youngest cognac, with at least two years’ ageing. VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) has been aged for a minimum of four years. XO (Extra Old) / Napoleon have at least six years of ageing behind them, and often very much longer.

Many smaller domaines, like Conte Filles, are still family owned

characteristic rich, golden hues and unique flavours. Now the artistry of highly-skilled master blenders takes over, combining painstakingly selected eaux-de-vie to create the signature styles which are the hallmarks of their cognac house. Only when this is completed will the cognac finally be ready to be bottled and labelled. Production has fluctuated over the years, but cognac has been enjoying a healthy revival, thanks to a new generation of connoisseurs, plus strong exports to China and the USA.

VISITING A COGNAC HOUSE Many of the major cognac houses offer regular guided tours in English to explain the production processes, their history and the importance of the ‘terroir’. Tours include a tasting (for adults only – soft drinks are provided for younger visitors) and reservations are strongly recommended during busy summer months. Several houses offer more in-depth visits and workshops lasting from 2 hours to a full day, where you can experience blending cognacs and learn about the Cellar Master’s art. Many houses are still family owned, and you’ll often be shown around by the owners themselves.

WHICH TOURS? Families are welcome on tours, although tastings are for over18s only. From the many tours which on offer, we recommend visiting both a large and small estate as they offer very different experiences. If visiting a smaller domaine on a free tour, do try to support them through buying at their boutique.

Courvoisier 2 PLACE DU CHÂTEAU, 16200 JARNAC With a heritage dating back to 1809, Courvoisier is based at its magnificent chateau in Jarnac. They offer a variety of tours and tastings, reserve your place online.  courvoisier.com

G et C Raby 16130 SEGONZAC Fifth generation estate at the heart of the Grande Champagne which was home to the inventor of the double distillation process. The current owners offer visits and tastings of their cognacs, pineaux and wines.  cognac-raby.fr

Rémi Landier 16170 ROUILLAC Run by fourth and fifth generation father and daughter, this house has been producing cognac and pineau in the Fins Bois region since 1890, launching their own brand in 1973.  cognacremilandier.com

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WHERE IS COGNAC PRODUCED?

Martell 16100 COGNAC Founded in 1715 by 21-year old Jean-Martell, the house has a rich history having shipped its first cargo of eau-devie to the US in 1783 and forged strong links with the UK under George III.  martell.com

Conte Filles 16480 CHILLAC Award-winning domaine in the same family for five generations and now managed by two sisters, Blandine and Anne-Laure (far left). Visit for a tour in English followed by a tasting of pineau and cognac.  domaine.contefilles.com

Pierre Lecat 16140 SAINT FRAIGNE Third generation cognac house producing both cognac and pineau. Tour the domaine with an English-speaking guide and visit the onsite boutique.

The Grande Champagne, centred around Segonzac, is bounded to the north by the Charente river and to both south and west by the river Né. Its grapes produce the very finest cognacs. The larger Petite Champagne includes Jonzac and Barbezieux to the south, with the Charente river as its northern border and the Seugne hugging its western and southern edges. Its grapes tend to produce slightly less subtle cognacs. The smaller Les Borderies area has less universally appealing grapes, but is home to some of the biggest Cognac houses, who once used the

Charente river to transport their goods, and who still work with many smaller local producers. Beyond these areas, grapes are grown in three ‘bois’ or ‘woody’ regions – fins bois (fine wood), bons bois (good wood) and bois ordinaires (ordinary wood). Saintes, Saint-Jean-d’Angély, Aigre, Mansle and Angoulême all fall within ‘fins bois’, while Saujon, Saint-Porchaire, Villefagnan, La Rochefoucauld and Marthon are in ‘bons bois’. The final cognac area extends to the CharenteMaritime coast and just into Deux-Sèvres, in the far north and west of the region.

 cognac-lecat.com

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

PINEAU VARIETIES WHITE How old? It’s aged for a minimum of 18 months (with 12 months in oak barrels). Colour: It ranges in tone from a pale yellow to a dark, golden hue. VIEUX & TRÈS VIEUX WHITE How old? Aged for at least 5 and 10 years respectively. Colour: Dark and golden. Bouquet: Honey, vanilla, prune and cinnamon aromas, with nutty overtones. Ageing intensifies flavour and adds ‘rancio’ – originally a Portuguese word describing characteristics of port wine during the maturing process, and here used to describe a particular oxidised aroma. RED & ROSÉ How old? 14 months (including at least 8 months in oak barrels). Colour: From pink to deep red. Bouquet: Fruity with elegant raspberry and cherry aromas. Red in particular has hints of ripe fruit accompanied by a touch of cinnamon, liquorice and vanilla. RED & ROSÉ VIEUX & TRÈS VIEUX How old? Aged for at least 5 and 10 years respectively. Colour: Pink with amber and brick-coloured highlights. Bouquet: Hints of oak, prune, and chocolate on the nose, with a long, aromatic aftertaste.

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PINEAU DES CHARENTES Our flavoursome apéritif is a happy marriage of cognac and grape juice. Visit local producers whose families have been perfecting their blends for generations...

A brand new drink was born when a fabled wine producer unknowingly poured grape juice (or ‘must’) into a barrel of cognac. The precise date remains a delicious mystery, but brandy and wine production were already well established locally. Some years later he returned to the barrel and discovered that he had somehow created a new type of alcohol. It takes an entire year to cultivate grapes and produce pineau. From September master pineau makers eye their grapes attentively until they are ready to harvest. After picking, the vines rest before being carefully pruned and examined in mid-winter to assure their health and vigour. Distillation and blending, on the other hand, take place behind closed doors. White grapes are pressed immediately, while red grapes are macerated and left for a few hours to leach their skin colour into the juice (precisely how long determines whether a pineau will be red or rosé). Fermentation stops once the pressed grape juice is mixed with cognac, and the blend is then aged for a minimum of 12 months. One of the attractions of pineau is that its flavour varies according to the individual producer. In marked contrast to cognac’s very specific growth areas, pineau has no ‘Premier Cru’ areas, but in order to be labelled Pineau des Charentes bottling must take place in the region of production. Pineau producers blend their grape juice with their own cognac, so essentially the same grapes grown for cognac are used for pineau. Pineau blanc is made from varieties such as Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, Sémillon and Sauvignon. However, red or rosé forms are also very popular and typically employ Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Since 1945 Pineau des Charentes has enjoyed Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) protection, ensuring that strict standards are maintained. It’s traditionally enjoyed as an apéritif before meals, but can also accompany blue cheeses, fruit or a dessert.


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FAMILY FUN The region is packed with fun days out for all the family - we show you where to go this year...

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FAMILY FUN DAYS There’s a fantastic selection of days out across the region so how do you choose where to go? We’re here to help you with our selection of family friendly attractions, wherever you are based...

CHARENTE (16) CHEMIN DE FER CHARENTE-LIMOUSINE 16500 CONFOLENS Pedal your own ‘vélo-rail’ along 17km of railway tracks through the heart of the Charente countryside from Roumazières or Confolens to Manot and back (trips last about 2h30).

 cf-charentelimousine.fr

NAUTILIS 16710 SAINT-YRIEIX-SURCHARENTE Seven different indoor and outdoor pool areas, including an 80m slide, spa and a cardio-gym, all under one roof on the edge of Angoulême.  nautilis.fr

16000 ANGOULÊME

ISLE NATURE

TOURISME

Vélo-rail, Charente-Limousine

OPHE/CHARENTE © MARIOT CHRIST

Dessinée, Angoulême

 cItebd.org

MUSÉE DE LA BANDE DESSINÉE This famous museum in Angoulême

Musée de la Bande

16140 SAINT FRAIGNE Built on marshes close to the river, Isle Nature’s Jardin Ephemère is a wonderfully wild garden and includes a labyrinth, willow teepees and games for children.  islenature.fr

MUSÉE D’ANGOULÊME 16000 ANGOULÊME Packed with exhibits,

© S. CHARBEAU

Alternatively, jump on board the ‘train touristique’ from Confolens to Manot.

celebrates the eternally-hip comic strip’s origins plus its cultural and political impact on the world.

from local archaeology (including locally excavated dinosaur bones) to items from the Maghreb and Oceania, plus fine art and ceramics.  maam.angouleme.fr

AVENTURE PARC 16310 MASSIGNAC Combine a day at the Lacs de Haute Charente with treetop adventures for adults and children. Accrobranche, bungee jumping and free jumping onto giant cushions of air!  aventure-parc.fr


Family Days Out

MUSÉE DU PAPIER 16000 ANGOULÊME Housed in an atmospheric water-powered former paper mill, this small museum tells the history of the local paper industry, with period printed packaging and other decorative retro products.

CORIOBONA - LES GAULOIS D’ESSE 16500 ESSE A carefully reconstructed Gaulois village set above the Issoire valley. Visit artisans’ workshops, see inside the house of an aristocrat and learn about ancient daily life.  coriobona-village-gaulois.fr

DOMAINE DE BOISBUCHET 16500 LESSAC Every summer renowned international architectural designers and design innovators lead courses at this beautiful 150ha estate. Visit the grounds and see the innovative and experimental buildings constructed over past years. Relax at the onsite organic bistro overlooking the Vienne river.  boisbuchet.org

© WWW.AVENTURE-PARC.FR

 maam.angouleme.fr

exhibitions. Guided visits in English around the archeaological site help you discover the secrets of ancient construction techniques, or hire the English language audio-guide.

perspective aboard the little tourist train which departs from the Fort Vauban. Take a 1hr 15min trip to the mouth of the Charente river, or 45 min along the beaches to the Pointe de la Fumée.

 cassinomagus.fr

 petit-train-rochefort-fouras.com

JARNAC SPORTS CANOË KAYAK

LES ANTILLES DE JONZAC

16200 JARNAC Hire canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and canobus to tackle five different courses along 30km of the Charente.  jsck.fr

CHARENTEMARITIME (17)

17500 JONZAC One of the region’s biggest waterparks, with beaches, outdoor and indoor pools, competition and fun pools, spa and beauty centre. On-site restaurant with a panoramic view over pools.  lesantillesdejonzac.com

Messing around on the Charente

MYSTERRA

17130 MONTENDRE Billed as a new generation leisure park, this fascinating 11ha park of pine forests on the edge of a lake is a unique blend of nature, hi-tech and art with mazes!  parc-mysterra.fr

CASSINOMAGUS 16150 CHASSENON

The 3-storey thermal baths are some of the best preserved monuments of the Roman Empire and the surrounding 25ha park includes gardens, games and

LE PETIT TRAIN DE FOURAS 17450 FOURAS See the coastline from a different

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Family Days Out ZOO DE LA PALMYRE

LES GROTTES DU RÉGULUS

17570 LES MATHES One of the best zoos in Europe, and set in 18 hectares among the pines of the Forêt de la Courbe. See more than 1,600 animals from all five continents including polar bears and snow leopards plus Siberian tigers, elephants, monkeys and apes.  zoo-palmyre.fr

17132 MESCHERS-SURGIRONDE These surprising troglodyte caves are hidden in the cliffs of the Gironde estuary. Guided visits in French, but an English translation is available.  ot-meschers.fr

CHÂTEAU SAINT-JEAND’ANGLE 17620 SAINT-JEAN-D’ANGLE Reawaken your inner knight or princess at this medieval chateau. Historic costumes, giant puzzles, trails and more will keep the whole family entertained.

© FLORENCE PERROUX

- ZOO DE LA PALMYRE

 chateausaintjeandangle.fr

LA PIERRE DE CRAZANNES 17350 CRAZANNES Visit former stone quarries (now a protected nature reserve) which supplied stone to build Fort Boyard. Try your hand at stone carving.  pierre-de-crazannes.fr

CITÉ DE L’HUÎTRE 17320 MARENNES

MUSÉE DE ROYAN 17200 ROYAN In a former market hall discover the origins, architecture and post-WWII reconstruction of this elegant coastal resort. Interactive exhibits, films and more bring to life the history of this city, which was twice destroyed and three times fought over.  ville-royan.fr

Explore the world of oyster farming on the Atlantic coast. Five oyster huts house a permanent exhibition and the included bike loan allows you to cycle the 3.5km trail through the oyster beds. Demonstrations, activities and a restaurant on site.  cite-huitre.com

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Climb high at AccroMâts

L’HERMIONE & ACCROMÂTS 17300 ROCHEFORT The replica of Hermione is in undergoing repairs but you can learn about life aboard the 18th century ship before heading to the next quay and Accro-mâts. Don’t miss the thrill of climbing to the 32m-high crow’s nest with its breathtaking views before taking a ropewalk or zipwire between the masts (suitable for over-6s).  hermione.com

LE BUNKER 17000 LA ROCHELLE Visit a miraculously preserved secret bunker at the heart of La Rochellewhich was the headquarters of the occupying German Admirals and U-boat commanders during WWII.  bunkerlarochelle.com

LA CORDERIE ROYALE 17303 ROCHEFORT This unique ropeworks is the jewel of Rochefort’s Maritime Arsenal and has recently renewed its exhibitions as part of 350th anniversary celebrations. Learn all about sailors’ knots, see a huge rope-making machine, visit the maritime exhibition and browse the extensive bookshop.  corderie-royale.com

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Guide La Rochelle GB_Mise en page 1 24/02/2020 17:39 Page1

LES VISITES

Au coeur d’une maison familiale depuis 5 générations

INFOS ET RÉSERVATIONS COGNAC RÉMI LANDIER 133 rue de Chateauneuf - 16170 Rouillac 05.45.61.77.65 - contact@cognacremilandier.com www.cognacremilandier.com Facebook : Cognac Rémi Landier

L’abus d’alcool est dangereux pour la santé. A consommer avec modération.

Seasonal dishes and menus prepared using only the freshest local produce L'art du temps et de la passion

Private dining room for up to 22 people Friendly venue for small seminars Rooms from €70

Dine in our charming, intimate courtyard or choose our cosy restaurant

COGNAC - PINEAU - VIN

LUNCH MENU

Fresh fish of the day plus coffee gourmand €18.90 Other menus from €17.90

Vegetarian dishes available Open Mon-Sat for lunch and dinner

Hotel ** Restaurant de La Place 17400 Saint Jean d’Angély 05 46 32 69 11 www.hoteldelaplace.net

We offer tours and events in English and French all year round. Our shop is open Monday to Friday 9h-12h & 14h-17h. During August our opening hours are afternoons only 13h30-17h30. Closed for annual holiday 15th-22nd August

Reservations : 07 87 36 72 73 "PORTE OUVERTE" CONCERT Friday 1st July from 6pm

Rue de l'Alambic - Villeret - 16140 Saint Fraigne www.cognac-lecat.com e.willetts@cognac-lecat.com

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Family Days Out MUSÉE MARITIME

PALÉOSITE

TRAIN DES MOUETTES

17000 LA ROCHELLE

17770 SAINT-CÉSAIRE

17600 SAUJON

This large living history centre will transport you back to prehistoric times, with lots of interactive family fun activities and demonstrations.

France’s oldest working steam locomotive hauls antique carriages from La Tremblade to/from Saujon beside the Seudre estuary, passing oyster beds.

 paleosite.fr

 traindesmouettes.fr

Discover La Rochelle’s seafaring history and go aboard France’s last meteorological vessel, a tug, a fishing trawler and several classic historic yachts.  museemaritimelarochelle.fr

MUSÉE DES COMMERCES D’AUTREFOIS 17300 ROCHEFORT Step into bygone France as you always imagined it, in this private museum which preserves twenty original retro shops, bars, workshops and more.  museedescommerces.com

LE CEP ENCHANTÉ 17490 MACQUEVILLE An educational circuit with a tablet through cognac vineyards reveals all about grapes and winemaking. 9-hole ‘SwinGolf’ also on site.  lecepenchante.com

PLANET EXOTICA 17200 ROYAN 7.6 hectares of activities and exhibitions about nature, reptiles, dinosaurs and exotic flora and fauna. Visit the huge tropical greenhouse and the desert hall where you will find one of Europe’s largest reptile exhibitions. Mini farm, petting area and water fountains.  planet-exotica.com

CHÂTEAU DES ENIGMES 17800 PONS

LA ROCHELLE AQUARIUM 17000 LA ROCHELLE Enter through a lift simulating a deep-sea dive, and you’ll be enthralled. More than 10,000 sea creatures are on display, from brightly coloured fish to a 20m deep shark tank viewable from three levels.  aquarium-larochelle.com

FERME DE MAGNÉ 17250 SAINTE GEMME An animal park with petting farm, children’s games, a maze and pony treks. Refreshments available.  fermedemagne.com

ASINERIE DU BAUDET DU POITOU 17470 DAMPIERRE-SUR-BOUTONNE The home of the region’s much loved shaggy-coated Baudet donkeys, rare Poitevine mules and heavy horses. Exhibitions and events throughout the summer along with English language tours.  asineriedubaudet.fr

PALMILUD WATER PARK

ÉCOMUSÉE DE PORT-DES-BARQUES 17730 PORT-DES-BARQUES On the banks of the Charente estuary, at the heart of the oyster farms, this museum encourages children to get hands-on to learn about the environment.  ecomuseeportdesbarques.net

PARC AVENTURE DE FONTDOUCE 17770 SAINT BRIS DES BOIS Treetop adventures in the grounds of the famous abbey. Nine rope courses for the older children and three for younger ones with two parallel zip-lines, each 200m long. Fun games at the abbey and an outdoor laser game complete the day.  fontdouce.com

Pit your wits to solve family-friendly treasure-hunt riddles in a wooded park and a magnificent Italian Renaissancestyle chateau.

17180 PÉRIGNY Swimming pools, slides, jacuzzis and a sauna on a 4ha park with children’s games and snack bar.

MUSÉE NATIONAL DE LA MARINE

 chateau-enigmes.com

 palmilud.com

The National Maritime Museum reveals

17300 ROCHEFORT

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Family Days Out the fascinating story of Rochefort’s proud maritime history and looks at the many fighting ships it built for the French navy.  musee-marine.fr

VIENNE (86)

PARC DU FUTUROSCOPE 86360 CHASSENEUIL-DU-POITOU No visit to the region is complete without a visit to Futuroscope. Fun, festive and family-friendly with exhilarating adventures, heart thumping thrills, spellbinding live shows, captivating journeys, a fairy-tale aquatic evening show, enchanting attractions… There are a variety of on-site restaurants and snack bars open throughout the park and plenty of places just to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

NEW for 2022 Tornado Chasers, an immersive adventure ride takes you to the heart of a tornado to experience the power of nature. Station Cosmo Hotel and Restaurant, stay in a Galactic station inspired by the worlds of science fiction and hi-tech. Don’t forget that Living Magazine readers receive a generous discount of 6€ per person - just show the voucher on page 28.  futuroscope.com

HISTORIAL DU POITOU CHÂTEAU-MONTS-SUR-GUESNES

New for 2022 Travel back through

time to the Middle Ages and explore the origins of the Kingdom of France when Aliénor d’Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart shaped the region as well as the lands beyond. Discover incredible destinies, epic adventures and the importance of power plays...  chateau-monts-sur-guesnes.com

DÉFIPLANET’ 86410 DIENNÉ Set in 47ha of unspoilt nature just 25 minutes from Futuroscope and Poitiers, DéfiPlanet’ au Domaine de Dienné is a family theme park with a range of activities on offer including swimming pools, accrobranche and pony rides.  defiplanet.com

PARCOURS AVENTURE DE LA VALLÉE DES LÉGENDES 86240 LIGUGÉ Nine different tree top accrobranche courses at the Domaine de Givray just 5 minutes from Poitiers.  gravite-86.com

LES GÉANTS DU CIEL 86300 CHAUVIGNY Daily falconry displays set within Chauvigny’s dramatic medieval chateau ruins. Kites, hawks, eagles, storks and many other birds show off their aerial skills in free flight over the audience.  geantsduciel.com

ROC AUX SORCIERS 86260 ANGLES SUR L’ANGLIN At the heart of one of France’s most beautiful villages is a 20m-long sculpted freize featuring over 30 animals and dating back 15,000 years. Dubbed the Lascaux of sculpture, the original is protected but a replica is open to the public.  roc-aux-sorciers.fr

SAINT-CYR LEISURE PARK 86130 SAINT-CYR Beautiful 300 hectare park dedicated to sports, nature and recreation. The 85ha lake has lifeguards on its beach from 10am-7pm during the summer.  lacdesaintcyr.com

ETHNI’CITÉ 86220 SAINT-RÉMY-SUR-CREUSE Visit a troglodytic village from the times of Richard the Lionheart, set high above the Creuse river. See how inhabitants lived during the 17-19th centuries with the help of exhibitions and re-enactments.  ethnicite.fr

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Family Days Out primates, most of them living in near-total liberty over 22ha of parkland. The celebrated collection includes gorillas, chimpanzees, lemurs and you can watch over 40 different feeding and activity times each day.  la-vallee-des-singes.fr

ESPACE D’ARCHÉOLOGIE INDUSTRIELLE 86300 CHAUVIGNY

OXYGÈNE 40 & ARBRÉSO 86150 L’ISLE JOURDAIN Adrenalin junkies can leap from the 47m viaduct at l’Isle Jourdain (above) over the Vienne river on a bungee, or whizz down one of the giant zip-wires crossing the river, the longest of which is 505m. There are treetop climbs and family accrobranche routes too.  oxygene40.com  arbreso.com

GLISS-UP WATER JUMP 86370 VIVONNE High-adrenalin water slides and jumps along with wakeboards, beach and restaurant.  gliss-up.fr

ACCRO’LATHUS 86390 LATHUS SAINT-RÉMY Five rope courses through the treetops with challenges along the way, all supervised by qualified staff. Try your hand at flying trapeze, zip-wire, spiders’ web nets, Tarzan jump and more.  cpa-lathus.asso.fr

LA VALLÉE DES SINGES 86700 ROMAGNE Get aquainted with over 450

In a 12th century donjon, the displays recount the history of the local industrial heritage. There are also panoramic views of the medieval town and countryside.  chauvigny-patrimoine.fr

LE CORMENIER 86400 CHAMPNIERS Immerse yourself in bygone everyday rural life during a 2½hr visit (available in English) with faithfully recreated scenes and special effects following Pierre born in 1898 as he grows up.  lecormenier.com

LA CITÉ DES TANNEURS 86470 BOIVRE LA VALLÉE Visit an artisanal leather tannery (below)

and discover the tanning process from the Middle Ages to today before taking part in a workshop (reservation recommended).  citedestanneurs-lavausseau.fr

LA FERME MUSÉE D’ACADIENNE 86210 ARCHIGNY Expelled from Canada by the British, Acadian families arrived here in 1773. Today, you can visit 38 cob houses built for them and retrace their footsteps.  archigny.net

CENTRE AQUATIC ABYSSÉA 86320 CIVAUX A swimming and bowling complex which is perfect for a rainy day. The pool has a giant toboggan and relaxing spa complex. There’s also a 20m deep diving well and an 8 lane ten-pin bowling alley.  vert-marine.com/abyssea-civaux-86

VÉLO-RAIL DE CHAUVIGNY 86300 CHAUVIGNY Pedal along ancient railway lines and enjoy an exceptional view of the medieval city of Chauvigny before heading out into the Vienne countryside. The return trip covers 17.4km and takes 2 hours at average pace.  velorail-chauvigny.fr

DOMAINE LE BOIS AUX DAIMS 86120 MORTON Day tickets are available for this Center Parcs site close to Poitiers. Access the Aqua Mundo water park as well as outdoor play sites and farm. Additional activities available at cost.  centerparcs.fr

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Family Days Out  FB: @rauranum

SÈVRE AUSTRUCHE 79440 COURLAY Visit an ostrich farm with the added fun of a 9,000m2 maze and children’s games. The farm shop sells local produce and souvenirs.  sevre-autruche.fr

LES OISEAUX DU MARAIS POITEVIN 79210 SAINT HILAIRE-LA-PALUD

DEUX-SEVRES (79) TUMULUS DE BOUGON 79800 BOUGON

An ornithological park in the heart of the Marais Poitevin, this 8ha paradise allows you to discover 70 bird species as well as typical marsh flora. You can access the wilder areas by hiring a boat.  oiseauxmaraispoitevin.com

and probably more! In addition to 20 or so breeds from all over the world, the 6-hectare park includes an arboretum and a bird reserve.  moutonvillage.fr

PESCALIS 79320 MONCOUTANT For a watery fun day out visit the largest fresh water aquarium in the region, then enjoy a 150 ha nature park with (no-kill) coarse fishing lakes. There are plenty of activities for non-anglers, from horseriding to mini-golf and bike hire.  pescalis.com

ZOODYSSÉE 79360 VILLIERS-EN-BOIS Try to spot all 70 species of European animals in this 30 hectare park set in the 3,500 hectare Forêt de Chizé. Learn about conservation, visit the mini-farm or take a horse-drawn cart around the circuit.

Discover five tumuli built by prehistoric man in the Neolithic period (above), plus full size reconstructions of two prehistoric houses, with demonstrations and activities. 2019 sees the arrival of the new mammoths exhibition with a life size replica.

PARC DE LA VALLÉE Near Argenton, this family park offers fairground rides, shows and a waterpark. Take a boat out on the neighbouring river and picnic in the grounds.

 zoodyssee.fr

 tumulus-de-bougon.fr

 parcdelavallee.com

79100 THOUARS

79150 MASSAIS

LAC DU LAMBON

PARC MOUTON VILLAGE

79370 PRAILLES

79340 VASLES

Choose from water-based activities, canoeing, paddle-boarding, pedaloes, or a range of other activities including accrobranche, mini-golf and archery at this leisure lake.

Everything you want to know about sheep

 lelambon.com

LE CENTRE RÉGIONAL ‘RÉSISTANCE & LIBERTÉ’ The history of the region from 1933-45 and the role of the French Resistance is revealed at this museum, set in the stables of the Château des Ducs de La Trémoille.  crrl.fr

MUSÉE DU MOTOS ANCIENS 79370 CELLES-SUR-BELLE

MUSÉE DE RAURANUM 79120 ROM This child-friendly museum includes treasure hunts, a ‘dig’ (for artefacts excavated in Rauranum, a town on the Poitiers–Saintes Roman road) and Roman games.

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45 historic motorcycles and mopeds are displayed in this museum behind the town’s Abbaye Royale.  musee-motoscellessurbelle.fr

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Family Days Out Dive-in!

There are plenty of open-air swimming pools across the region which are all very reasonably priced. If you prefer lake swimming, look out for ‘plans d’eau’ which often have supervised swimming areas and beaches. But remember that baggy swim shorts for men and boys are not allowed in most pools, where Speedo-style swimwear is required. See www.guide-piscine.fr to find your local pool, or ask at your tourist office.

LE PETIT TRAIN PIBALOU

LE NOMBRIL DU MONDE

79510 COULON

79130 POUGNE-HÉRISSON

A fun way to discover the Marais Poitevin in as little as one hour before taking to the water or hiring a bike to explore further.

Children love this imaginative and eccentric garden. Discover ‘the navel of the world’, a land of sounds, legends and enchanted stories. Explore the gardens

 lemaraispoitevin.fr

where stories find refuge and listen carefully as the nombril talks to you. Watch out for the festival from 13-15 August when much mayhem is promised.  nombril.com

MINES D’ARGENT DES ROIS FRANCS 79500 MELLE Claiming to be the oldest silver mines open to visitors in the world, these mines date back to Charlemagne and their silver was made into coins until the end of the 10th century. The visit lasts 1h30 and is in French.  mines-argent.com

NEW ROUTE

Fly to London-Gatwick from Limoges, starting May 1st, 2022.

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

Saint-Savinien on the River Charente

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Away from the Atlantic lie unspoilt rural landscapes shaped by noble rivers. Here you’ll find ancient Romanesque architecture, medieval chateaux, serene gardens and authentic villages, along with vineyards, forest trails and more...

EXPLORING

Arc de Germanicus and River Charente, Saintes © SÉBASTIEN LAVAL, CDT17

LES CHARENTES

THE SAINTONGE

This fascinating area takes its name from the ancient riverside town of Saintes, whose startling 11th century Sainte-Eutrope basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Close to it are extensive Roman remains, including the Arc de Germanicus (a 2,000 yearold triumphal arch) plus a large amphitheatre known locally as ‘Les Arènes’. With riverside walks and great restaurants, Saintes will steal your heart away and inspire you to explore the beautiful Saintonge. In the town of Pons you’ll discover a Saint-Jean-d’Angély magnificent 12th century donjon plus the lovingly 17th century abbey towers restored Hôpital des Pèlerins, founded in 1160 and now also UNESCO listed. Nearby is the Château des Enigmes, a family activity park set around an ornate Renaissance-style chateau. Further south, the medieval town of Jonzac has two historic mills, still powered by wind and water and selling their produce direct to visitors.

© CMT17 C. TRIBA

There are lots of opportunities to get closer to nature. At the Maison de la Forêt, near Montlieula-Garde, you can climb a forestry lookout tower in a landscaped park presenting

traditional woodland activities, visit a butterfly reserve and more. Alternatively, cruise the Gironde (Europe’s largest estuary) from the little port of Vitrezay, which has 16km of lakeside paths for cyclists, walkers and nature watchers. It also offers canoes and fishing (you can even hire a traditional carrelet net-fishing hut). Inland lie lakes, waterways and Les Antilles (a lagoon in Jonzac heated by thermal springs) plus the Parc de Beaulon, with blue fountains, a 15th century chateau and formal gardens. Among the peat marshes of the Espace Naturel des Bénissons are butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians and many rare plant species, and you can retrace the footsteps of prehistoric man at the huge Paléosite. Here a virtual time machine travels via the Middle Ages and Roman occupation back to prehistory. In fact, the Stone Age is still with us at Les Lapidiales – an open-air sculpture park (free admission) whose works have transformed the former stone quarries of Port d’Envaux, north of Saintes. The 10km Chemin de la Pierre leads to the vast, abandoned quarries of Crazannes, whose museum celebrates centuries of stone extraction in the Saintonge. Rising above it all is an impressive Gothic chateau. A few km downstream lies Saint-Saviniensur-Charente, an enchanting riverside market town, where a sunny viewpoint set high on a limestone promontory reveals the pastel terracotta rooftops of an ancient port which traded timber, grains, wines, spirits and locally quarried stone. Hire a kayak or self-drive river cruiser from the riverbank, or wander among

L

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022 © CHARENTE TOURISME

beautiful landscaped parkland, where you can skipper a scale model ship on a sheltered lake. Nearby the gracious 15/17th century Château de la RocheCourbon overlooks a vast ornamental lake, the focalpoint of Italianate formal gardens created with miraculous ingenuity on unstable coastal marshland. The spirit of the Italian Renaissance also influenced the moated chateau of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne (right), whose award-winning restoration encompassed two gardens, with a labyrinth-style topiary maze. The village itself is charming, and nearby at the Maison du Baudet du Poitou you can meet the gentle giants of the donkey world. The centre has been instrumental in preserving the curly-coated Baudets which for centuries have been familiar features around the region. You’ll learn how they worked the land, and how they’ve been saved from extinction. Beside the Boutonne river lies Saint-Jean-d’Angély, whose narrow medieval streets contain 16th century half-timbered façades, an elegant Renaissance fountain and a stone gateway built in 1406-10 and topped by a noble bell tower. The Musée des Cordeliers displays the first vehicle (a 1922 Citroën) to cross the Sahara, while nearby is the vast Salle d’Aliénor d’Aquitaine, built using neo-Classical stonework from the cloisters of the town’s 17th century Abbaye Royale, whose construction was halted by the French Revolution. The abbey’s impressive western façade and two monumental towers still dominate the town skyline. Finally, in the north west of the region is Aulnay-de-Saintonge, another characterful town whose market place is packed with colourful stalls on Thursday and Sunday mornings. For centuries Aulnay was a halt for pilgrims bound for Saint-Jacques de Compostela, and its jewel of Romanesque architecture – the vast, ornate Eglise Saint-Pierre d’Aulnay (right), dating from 1120-40 – is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The medieval streets of Saint-Jean-d’Angély

SOUTHERN CHARENTE

Among gentle hills and leafy valleys lie some exceptional sights. Overlooked by a feudal chateau, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne’s classic market square has colourful summer evening markets, but its real treasure lies hidden from view. The astonishing Eglise monolithe Saint-Jean is a vast troglodytic church hewn from the pale limestone (‘alba terra’) bedrock from which the village takes its name. Another surprise is the Musée des Marionnettes, with puppet theatre shows in English during July & Aug. Alternatively, explore the nearby River Dronne by canoe or kayak. The town of Chalais’ elegant and beautifully restored chateau (occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War) welcomes visitors on Tuedays to Sundays, while Barbezieux’s own 15th century chateau retains the heavily fortified gateway of the mighty stronghold it once was. Beyond it are a museum of local archaeology and the town’s Tourist Office. Nearby is the vast Eglise Saint-Mathias, constructed during the 12th-15th centuries and still a place of pilgrimage. The largely Romanesque interior contains

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Aubeterre sur Dronne is full of surprises

relics of the Saint, a fragment of the True Cross and vibrant 20th century stained glass by Georges Devêche. North of the town at Touzac are the exquisitely landscaped Jardins du Chaigne – ‘Jardins Remarquable’ listed gardens featuring topiary, roses, lavender and Mediterranean plants, all set among cognac vines. The area is also known for its vineyards. You can visit a producer in a unique setting of a 12th-15th century manor house at Le Maine Giraud, near Blanzac. The former home of 19th century playwright and novelist Alfred de Vigny (celebrated in a small museum) sits among 42 hectares of vines and produces both fine cognac and Pineau des Charentes. Visits reveal traditional distillation techniques. Also worth visiting is the Moulin de Perdrigeau, a former 18th century windmill near Montmoreau Saint-Cybard. It milled grains for over a century and served during WWII as a German observation point. There’s an external staircase to the summit, where an orientation table indicates principal features among the panoramic countryside views.

Eglise monolithe Saint-Jean

WESTERN CHARENTE

Explore the riverside town of Cognac, whose historic heart preserves stately 16th century mansions built by wealthy merchants (hunt the salamander emblem of King François I, born in the Château de Cognac in 1494), medieval timber-framed houses plus old stone ‘chais’ in which barrels of fine cognacs mature to perfection. See things differently by cruising the Charente, between fields of vines & sunflowers, on a traditional ‘gabare’. La Demoiselle, a replica of the famous flat-bottomed sailing barges which transported barrels of cognac and other local produce, sails regularly from Cognac’s ancient quayside (tickets available at Cognac Tourist Office) and from Saint-Simon, known as ‘le village gabarier’. The fascinating story of the boats which were constructed on the riverbanks, and of the lives of those who sailed

The fortified entrance to the Chäteau de Barbezieux

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The Château de Cognac

them, is recounted in Saint- Simon’s Maison des Gabariers. For centuries gabares served the quaysides of nearby Jarnac carrying Atlantic coast sea salt and, of course, cognac. The old towpaths and warehouses survive, and the town is home to the illustrious cognac houses of Courvoisier, Hine and Louis Royer. The celebrated Grande Champagne vineyards enfold Segonzac, behind whose 12th-15th century church is an authentic ‘lavoir’ – a village wash-house fed by fresh spring water. Nearby are several smaller cognac and pineau houses. Explore a huge network of quiet country tracks among world-famous vineyards and fields of vibrant sunflowers in perfect peace by hiring a bike – or even on horseback. On the 27th of each month Rouillac hosts one of France’s largest markets and Aigre, with a long tradition of cognac trading, is another market town. There’s history too – in nearby Ligné the Cimetière des Chevaliers preserves 70 engraved Knights Templar

tombstones from the time of the Crusades, Saint-Brice has an 11th century abbey, while at Les Bouchauds are four GalloRoman temples and a vast amphitheatre (Rouillac Tourist Office has visit details). You’ll find many more serenely beautiful Romanesque churches in hamlets and towns throughout Cognac Country.

You’ve just found the perfect place in which to unwind. Confolens, at the confluence of the Vienne and Goire rivers, was once an important trading port, and retains 18th century mansions on each bank, plus medieval timber-framed houses around rue du Soleil. A granite tower survives from a 12th-13th century chateau, while just upstream is Saint-Germain-de-Confolens, still dominated by romantic 12th-15th century fortress ruins set on a rocky hillside. The Croix de Bellevue offers panoramic views of the Issoire and Vienne valleys, the village and its 14th century bridge. Beyond it lie a weaver’s house and a Romanesque church built on the plan of a Greek cross.

The riverside town of Confolens

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Brigeuil was fortified during the French Wars of Religion but the ancient town was already here when the Gauls struggled against the Romans. It retains 15th century portals, a

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CHARENTE-LIMOUSINE


Cycling over the Charente near Jarnac

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Château de La Rochefoucauld

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Romanesque church, a 12th century monument to the dead, a Renaissance gateway and an unusual pyramid-shaped fountain. The Romanesque church at Lesterps has a 43m high granite belfry built by Augustinian monks. Destroyed in 1040, it was rebuilt 300 years later. Champagne Mouton’s church contains the tomb of a high constable of Scots origin whose crest adorns one of the vaults.

Canoe along the Tardoire near Montbron

Remarkable evidence of Roman occupation survives at Cassinomagus, near Chassenon, which preserves 1st century Gallo-Roman thermal baths, a network of aqueducts, hot and cold rooms, swimming pools and more. There are displays of archaeological finds plus guided tours for summer visitors. The Lacs de Haute-Charente offer swimming, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, water-skiing and fishing on two freshwater lakes covering 400 hectares. Lac Lavaud’s water sports centre offers lessons and has lifeguard supervision, with disabled access. The lake has sandy beaches shaded by oaks and willows plus picnic spots, ramblers’ trails, shops and restaurants. Both lakes sell shore fishing permits. A hide at Foucherie allows you to observe (by appointment) up to 70 bird species, and the Maison des Lacs in Massignac offers visitor information.

HORTE & TARDOIRE VALLEY

Follow in Roman footsteps at Cassinomagus

Set on a hill amid deepest unspoilt France, the town of VilleboisLavalette is itself overlooked by an imposing and lovingly restored 10th-13th century fortress. Join a guided tour in English (times vary, but the town’s Tourist Office has full details). Constructed in 1665, Villebois’ market hall is one of the oldest and finest in SW France, and retains its 17th century sundial. On Saturday mornings traditional stalls sell local produce including honey, bread and fresh Atlantic Coast oysters, while at lunchtimes there are restaurant tables. In nearby Magnac-Lavallette-Villars an enthusiastic volunteer labour force is painstakingly restoring the Château de la Mercerie, a flight of fancy conceived on an astonishing scale by two brothers during the 1930-70s. La Rochefoucauld is another atmospheric market town dominated by a mighty chateau (left). The 11th century donjon was joined by the round towers around 1350, other features being added in 1760. You can visit parts of the chateau, which still belongs to the La Rochefoucauld family, one of the oldest noble families in France. The nearby 4,000 hectare Forêt de la Braconne has walking trails leading to huge natural pits up to 55m deep.

Forêt de la Braconne features deep natural pits

Along both the Horte and Tardoire rivers lie a number of restored working mills, producing different kinds of flour plus pure walnut and hazelnut oils, while the Moulin de la Pierre at Vilhonneur is France’s only water-powered mill still cutting limestone. See the area in perfect peace by canoeing gently down the Tardoire river, past mills and chateaux – particularly recommended is the journey down to the Chambon Gorges (Montbron Tourist Office has details). Alternatively, stroll on some of the many paths which lead to silent oak and chestnut forests. If you love trees, don’t miss the Arboretum Jean Aubouin du Clédou at La Mothe-Clédou. A trail created by the Office National des Forêts leads you among over 10 hectares of trees from almost 40 countries, including giant sequoias.

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The Hôtel de Ville retains a tower from an earlier château

ANGOULEME (16)

Set high on a limestone plateau, the heart of old Angoulême contains medieval buildings and elegant 18th & 19th century mansions and townhouses. You’ll also see hints of Angoulême’s International Comic Strip Festival and museum, in hip, colourful cartoon-style murals by created by talented artists - the Tourist Office has a handy map or you can download the app ‘Murs BD’. The 12th century Romanesque Cathédrale Saint-Pierre (right) was embellished by the architect who created the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. Behind the cathedral is the Musée d’Angoulême, with 1620th century works of art, dinosaur bones from important nearby fossil beds of Angeac-Charente and much more.

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Stroll along the medieval ramparts for elevated views of the Charente valley. The river once powered the city’s paper mills, whose long history is brought vividly to life in the Musée du Papier Le Nil, housed in an atmospheric former paper mill with giant water wheels. The nearby riverbanks are now landscaped leisure areas. Alternatively, follow the old towpath (la Coulée Verte) by walking or cycling – there are many picnic spots en-route to the Plan d’Eau de la Grande Prairie. This lakeside family attraction, set among 50 hectares of parkland at St Yrieix (below), has a sandy beach and swimming pool, along with facilities for many water sports including canoeing and sailing.


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This ancient land is home to fields of sunflowers, gently-meandering river valleys, atmospheric market towns & villages, plus Romanesque architecture, a motor-racing circuit and the Futuroscope family attraction park.

The rooftops of Chauvigny

HISTORIC POITOU AROUND VIENNE

Welcome to an ancient land once ruled by the Plantagenêts, and whose name derives from that of Poitiers, capital city of the modern-day département of Vienne. Some way to the north of Poitiers, at the final navigable stretch of the River Vienne, lies the town of Châtellerault, which from the 13th century exploited both its strategic location and highlyskilled artisans to develop important cutlery, sword-making, ropemaking and tanning industries. These ancient trades have largely disappeared locally, but echoes remain in ‘La Manu’, a 19th century former munitions manufacturing complex now home to an ice rink and the renowned Auto Moto Vélo historic vehicle museum. The town was also the home of philosopher René Descartes, and the 12th century Eglise Saint-Jacques adds another dimension to a visit, making Châtellerault well worth getting to know. Down river is Chauvigny, one of Michelin Travel Guides’ Top 100 Small Towns in France to Visit. Rising above the medieval town, the Château Baronnial, Château d’Harcourt, Château de Montléon, Donjon de Gouzon and the Tour de Flins create a spectacular effect. In the old upper town lie charming narrow streets and interesting architecture, including two lovingly restored Romanesque churches.

SOUTHERN TOWNS & VILLAGES

Further south-west at Charroux is a medieval covered market hall and the startling Tour Charlemagne, an 11th century lantern tower from the once-grandiose Abbaye Saint-Sauveur (below). The abbey ruins, including their important Gothic statues, are open to visitors. The historic market town has long been a halt for pilgrims bound for Santiago de Compostela, and was the seat of the French government for six years during the Hundred Years War. From Charroux the River Charente flows discretely towards Civray, a peaceful market town (markets Tues and Fri mornings) long popular with visitors. Overlooking a broad market square is the large 12th century Eglise SaintNicolas, whose interior is an unexpected jewelbox of painted decoration. Along the peaceful riverbanks and park nearby you’ll find several shaded picnic spots.

Châtellerault’s ‘La Manu’ celebrates the town’s industrial past

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THE UPPER REACHES OF VIENNE

North east of Chauvigny is photogenic Angles-sur-l’Anglin, one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and an essential visit. Its name derives from Saxon ‘Angles’ tribes who invaded England in the 5th century, and from the river flowing through the heart of the lower village (the upper village is tucked away behind the chateau). It’s famed for ‘Jours d’Angles’ – delicately embroidered fabrics – and for the 15,000 year-old Magdalenian sculptures in the Roc-auxSorciers (Sorcerer’s Rock). Further south is Saint-Savin’s ancient abbey (left), a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose glorious 11/12th century wall paintings have prompted the title of ‘the Romanesque Sistine Chapel’. Continue south and you’ll reach Montmorillon (right). Overlooking the River Gartempe, it has a passion for writing, calligraphy and everything to do with books. The Eglise NotreDame and its crypt contain medieval frescoes and the graceful Vieux-Pont has spanned the river since 1404. Thrill seekers love L’Isle Jourdain, which in summer offers bungee jumps and zipwires from a spectacular 40m high former railway viaduct, water-skiing on the Lac de Chardes, and high-octane thrills at the nearby Val de Vienne motor racing circuit. A few kilometres west at Saint-Martin-l’Ars is the Abbaye de La Réau (left), founded 850 years ago, and whose formal gardens are being lovingly restored. Children can go on a treasure hunt dressed in monks’ attire and other activities include stonecutting, calligraphy and traditional breadmaking.

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La Cité de l’Ecrit, Montmorillon

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

Parthenay sits high above the River Thouet

IN LEAFY DEUX-SEVRES

The Deux-Sèvres département, an unspoilt realm of forests, lakes, quiet towns & villages, has peaceful lanes ideal for cycling among old watermills, ancient Romanesque churches and two Sèvre rivers. Deep in the Gâtine countryside lies the town of Parthenay, whose Saint-Jacques medieval quarter preserves timber-framed houses, a 13th century chateau, granite fortifications and Romanesque churches. Further afield are the tiny medieval towns of Airvault and Saint-Loup-Lamairé, character villages like Gourgé and Saint-Généroux, plus Pougne-Hérisson’s curious storytelling gardens, ‘Le Nombril du Monde’. Further north, Bressuire is the gateway to the Bocage - an area of small fields, hedgerows, rivers, gentle hills and woodland. Quiet lanes pass watermills, windmills, wayside chapels, shrines and Romanesque churches along a Compostela pilgrimage route. See the frescoes at Saint-Clémentin’s beautiful 13th century Chapelle des Rosiers, whose metal steeple is one of only three in all France.

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A WEALTH OF HISTORY

Follow the river Thouet to historic Thouars, which hosts art exhibitions and the largest market in Deux-Sèvres. Celebrated for its floral displays, this ‘Ville d’Art & d’Histoire’ has many listed buildings, extensive wartime exhibits in the Centre Régional Résistance et Liberté, and a remarkable 19th century water turbine mill, while botanists appreciate the Pressoir valley’s biodiversity. Nearby, the Oriental Garden at Maulévrier is exquisite, and the magnificently restored Château d’Oiron rivals those of the Loire Valley – its contemporary and fine art collections are unique in France. Further south the market town of Melle has ancient silver mines which once supplied the French mint, plus three Romanesque churches – the Eglise Saint-Hilaire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encircling the town, the Chemin de la Découverte is an awardwinning arboretum and rose walk. Nearby Celles-sur-Belle has a magnificent Abbaye Royale where neo-Classical architecture meets Flamboyant Gothic style. Just behind it, the Musée Pierre Certain displays a collection of historic motorcycles.


THE MARAIS POITEVIN

At the heart of France’s second largest wetland area is the Sèvre Niortaise river, made navigable by order of Napoléon in 1808 to enable traditional barges (gabares) to sail between Niort and the Atlantic coast ports. Today the natural, unspoilt environment is perfect for walking, cycling, horse riding and of course boating, all of which have hire facilities. The abundant wildlife includes otters, and the Marais is a stopover for migratory birds - you’ll see many species at St-Hilaire-la-Palud’s ornithological park. Neolithic man inhabited an area extending to the Baie d’Aiguillon on the Atlantic Coast. Draining the marshes began in the 10th century, but it was only after the Hundred Years War that work really began in earnest. By the 17th century the Marais had finally begun to look broadly as it does today. The classic way to see it is to park your car in a village (motorhomes have parking and services in Arçais, Coulon and Mauzé- sur-le-Mignon) and enjoy a more environmentally friendly option. Discover the tranquillity of the canals by taking a trip in a traditional flat-bottomed boat from Coulon, Arçais, St-Hilaire-la-Palud, La Garette, Maillezais or Le Mazeau. Hire points offer varied packages, but it’s well worth taking a guide, who will navigate through the labyrinth of conches, fossés and rigoles, while providing anecdotes about the history of the Marais.

is the Marais Poitevin’s notional capital, and was once a bustling port. Its history, and that of the Marais, are recounted in the Maison du Marais Poitevin museum. Arçais also had a busy river port, but today charms visitors with cobbled streets, chateau ruins plus craft and antique shops. Magné has an island setting between the Sèvre Niortaise and Sevreau rivers, with a Gothic church and a 19th century lock-house called the ‘Marais-Pin’. Le Bourdet is famed for its 2km path called ‘Le Sentier de la Maraîchine’ (a reference to the local breed of cattle which still graze here) plus botanical and geological circuits. Each village reveals its own secrets, with picturesque streets, traditional marsh houses, boutiques and art galleries, churches, traditional washhouses, locks, bridges and dovecotes. Coulon’s Maison du Marais Poitevin is one of four differently themed museums in the Marais.

Hire a bike from Coulon, Arçais or La Garette and enjoy 50km of flat cycle tracks - since they wind between the waterways, you’ll have no hills to climb! To take things even more gently take a stroll on marked footpaths (pick up a map of suggested itineraries from local tourist offices). Another popular way to discover the Marais is on horseback, you can even visit the countryside in a horsedrawn carriage or a land train. As for the villages, Coulon, Arçais and Magné lie in the heart of the wetlands, and are popular with visitors. Coulon

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Café culture, Poitiers

After unwinding amid the calm of the countryside, you’ll find the Poitou capitals offer lots more than shopping and dining

POITIERS (86)

This vibrant hilltop city, overlooking the Boivre and Clain rivers, has a colourful historic heart with the highest density of ‘Monument Historique’ architecture outside Paris. They include Gallo-Roman remains, Romanesque and Renaissance buildings, a vast Gothic cathedral, plus half-timbered medieval houses. There are many more surprises among the pavement cafés around the beautifully renovated Place du Maréchal Leclerc and the bustling market in Place Charles de Gaulle. Maps, information and guided tours are all available at the Tourist Office. The 4th century Baptistère Saint-Jean is France’s second oldest Christian building. Nearby, the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre was begun in 1162 by Henry II and his wife, Aliénor of Aquitaine. The Crucifixion window stained glass and stall carvings are dazzling medieval masterpieces. The Eglise Notre-Dame-la-Grande in place Charles de Gaulle is one of France’s finest Romanesque churches, with a jewelbox interior. Its western façade’s original vivid medieval colours are recreated at 10.30 each evening in Les Polychromies, a free light show. In rue Gambetta the Palais de Justice conceals a vast 12th century Gothic hall, seat of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine. The 11th century Eglise SainteRadegonde contains the Saint’s tomb, with what is claimed to be Christ’s footprint in stone. Also worth seeing: the 7th century Hypogée des Dunes underground chapel and the prehistoric Pierre-Levée dolmen near the Pont-Neuf, where Renaissance writer François Rabelais carved his name while a student at the city’s university.

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Niort skyline

CITY BUZZ NIORT (79)

Niort’s once busy quaysides handled hides for tanning and chamois leather businesses supplying the French army. In recent years the city centre has undergone an imaginative transformation, with convenient underground parking making exploring on foot a pleasure. The Donjon d’Aliénor d’Aquitaine (below), a mighty fortress, towers assertively above the Sèvre Niortaise river. It was begun by Henry Plantagenêt and Aliénor d’Aquitaine when England ruled much of western France, and was completed by their son, Richard Cœur de Lion. Don’t miss the views from the summit – an orientation panel identifies many of the surrounding features. Beside the Donjon are Les Halles de Niort – a magnificent iron and glass market hall, where local producers display their wares each morning (except Mon). Across the river on an island stands the 12th century Fort Foucault, but the town’s crowning glories are the 75m-high twin spires of l’Eglise Notre-Dame. At the foot of the old quarter is Le Pilori – a pre-Revolution town hall, which now hosts art exhibitions. There’s lots more to see in Niort: fine art and natural history collections in Le Musée Bernard D’Agesci; the Moulin du Roc theatre and cinema centre; La Porte Bleue, exhibiting creative digital works; half-timbered medieval houses around rue Victor Hugo; the landscaped place de la Brèche, now with picnic spots and children’s play area, plus the cool haven of the Jardin des Plantes. At the entry to the shopping areas four bronze dragons created in 1992 commemorate a 17th century local legend.


The Grande Salle of the Palais des Ducs d’Aquitaine, Poitiers

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Wherever you are, hop on a bike and you’ll see things differently – and you’ll actually see and hear different things, in places where a car can’t take you.

EXPLORE

ON TWO WHEELS

Parking the car and switching to pedal power on two wheels brings a whole new sense of freedom. Roll in perfect peace with only birdsong for company; wildlife often won’t hear you coming. Around our quiet countryside you’ll see lots of signed cycle routes (‘pistes cyclables’), specially created to offer something for all interests, abilities and fitness levels. Most will take you on a circular itinerary, so you won’t have to retrace your tracks to get back to your starting point – and since one circuit often overlaps another you can easily combine them and add more distance if the mood takes you.

ON COUNTRY BYWAYS

To get started, how about a gentle taster? Just follow a route beside a river or canal and you’ll avoid hills altogether. The famous Marais Poitevin (see page 30), for example, has bike hire points plus a dazzling choice of signed cycle tracks on which to explore a huge network of waterways, with stops at character villages along the way. Four maps entitled ‘Le Marais Poitevin à Bicyclette’ are on sale at local tourist offices and reveal routes on 65 circuits in CharenteMaritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vendée. They make great travelling companions, particularly if you decide to return in future years and eventually ride them all. Further north lies another haven for cyclists, among the beautiful, varied landscapes of the Vallée du Thouet, which runs through the historic towns of Thouars and Parthenay.

SCENIC COASTAL RIDES

Cycling with the seashore for company is the kind of magical experience you’ll never forget, and there are lots of opportunities along the sunny Atlantic Coast, starting in the north beside the baie de l’Aiguillon (a National Nature Reserve). Just below it is bikefriendly La Rochelle, where you can hire one of the famous yellow bikes and explore 160km of cycle routes at your own pace. Further south you can ride along the promenades of Châtelaillon Plage and Royan, or around the peninsula of Fouras-les-Bains.

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© AURELIESTAPF-PORTEURDESONGE-COM

AROUND THE ISLANDS

Both the Île de Ré and the Île d’Oléron are great for bikes, with extensive networks of clearly-signed dedicated cycle routes – follow them through colourful villages, around the coastline, among pine forests and even past vineyards. In fact, if you decide to camp you can spend a whole week or more on two wheels, with no car parking spaces to find before you can relax on the beach. For a heightened taste of island escapism take a boat ride from Rochefort, La Rochelle, La Tremblade or the neighbouring islands to the smaller Île d’Aix – you can hire a bike on the quayside and head off to find a hidden beach or a perfect picnic spot.

WANT MORE MILEAGE?

If you really want to spread your wings and see even more sights, La Flow Vélo is a new national ‘slow tourism’ cycle route running for almost 290km from Thiviers (Dordogne) to the Île d’Aix. En-route there are connections to onward long-distance EuroVelo cycle routes all the way to Trondheim (Norway) and Saint-Jacques de Compostéla (Spain), not to mention the famous Vélodyssée linking the UK with the Basque Coast. Of course, if you really fall in love with the sense of away-from-it-all escapism which cycling brings, why not plan a return visit to experience your favourite rides when the summer crowds have gone? Chances are you’ll have the marked trails all to yourself, apart from a few local riders making the most of the perfect peace and quiet. Magical!

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Follow the course of a river and you’ll see remarkable places and lots of wildlife you’d otherwise miss. Drive, cycle, walk, hire a boat or just relax...

FOLLOW GENTLE

RIVERS & STREAMS

Enjoy your voyage of discovery on the roads, lanes and footpaths which often follow long stretches of our waterways – should you ever part company with the flow for a while, you’ll still have deepest, greenest France all around you.

OUR NORTHERN RIVERS

In the northwest are two rivers which give the département of Deux-Sèvres its name. The Sèvre Nantaise trickles into life near Parthenay (whose Thouet River valley is a peaceful haven for walkers and cyclists) before flowing towards Nantes and the Loire. Further south the Sèvre Niortaise visits Niort, the Marais Poitevin and the pleasure port of Marans, before joining the Vendée and reaching the Atlantic at the Point de l’Aiguillon in the Aunis above La Rochelle. The river attracts countless bird species. In the

northeast are three more rivers to explore. The Gartempe flows calmly through the Vienne département via Montmorillon, SaintSavin (whose huge abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and spa town La Roche-Posay. The mood changes among the rugged Portes d’Enfer (Gates of Hell), a remote spot 15km southeast of Montmorillon and popular with advanced kayakers. Soon the Gartempe joins the mighty Vienne river, which looks a picture at Chabanais, Confolens and further north at L’Isle-Jourdain, Lussacles-Châteaux, Chauvigny and Châtellerault. You can even rent a cabin on a lake for the complete on-water experience - just remember to bring your mosquito repellant!

IN DEUX-SEVRES & CHARENTE-MARITIME

Our star river is the 380km-long Charente, whose attractive, lesserknown tributary the Boutonne begins in Chef Boutonne near the elegant Château de Javarzay, lovingly restored and open to visitors. Just downstream is Brioux-sur-Boutonne, an ancient river crossing on a Roman road used by pilgrims bound for Santiago de Compostela. In a peaceful spot nearby is Dampierre-sur-Boutonne’s moated Renaissance chateau, which welcomes visitors (its formal gardens include a large, labyrinth-style maze). Ahead lies medieval Saint-Jeand’Angély, which has canoes and kayaks for hire beside the River Boutonne. Beyond Tonnay Boutonne the river enters coastal wetlands and flows into the Charente between SaintSavinien and Rochefort.

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Cognac’s quayside is an important part of the cognac story

BESIDE LA CHARENTE

The River Charente surfaces in neighbouring Limousin and enters our region near the Lacs de Haute Charente, a beautiful setting for sailing, fishing, cycling, walking, birdwatching or a shaded picnic (or on a sandy beach). In nearby Massignac is a family adventure park. The river flows all the way to the Atlantic coast, with many surprises along the way. At Charroux there’s a 16th century market hall, a vast 11th century tower (la Tour Charlemagne) and romantic abbey ruins. Nearby Civray’s Romanesque church overlooks a market square (markets Tuesday and Friday mornings) and further on lie tranquil, Turneresque landscapes around Voulême. Downstream at Verteuil-sur-Charente a fairytale chateau overlooks the riverbanks, while for city buzz and some boutique browsing just follow the river south to Angoulême. The historic quarter sits on a plateau high above the river, which powered the mills that made the city a renowned paper producer. Hire a houseboat from nearby Intercroisières (no permit required) and take your time exploring the river. You can enjoy also a cruise in a replica sailing barge at the old port of Saint-Simon, or continue to Jarnac, home of world-famous cognac producers and birthplace of former French President François Mitterrand.

All aboard Charente’s La Demoiselle

...or explore the Marais Poitevin at your own pace

Next come Cognac, Saintes (a gracious town with important Roman remains), the Château de Taillebourg and one of Europe’s oldest suspension bridges, offering walkers and cyclists panoramic views of the port of Tonnay-Charente. The river’s final surprise is Rochefort, once France’s greatest naval dockyard, and home port of a full-size replica of La Fayette’s 18th century frigate Hermione, plus France’s very last transporter bridge. This historic monument is currently being painstakingly restored, but its story is told at the Maison du Transbordeur on the riverbank.

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Living Magazine Summer Guide 2022

A BIENTOT!

We could carry on sharing our love for our region for many more pages, there is so much history to reveal and so many beautiful sights to share. We hope that you have enjoyed our 2022 Summer Guide - do share your views with us on our social media pages. We publish Living Magazine every two months in which we have long reads about the region and more beautiful photography so, if you would like your own regular dose of Poitou-Charentes sunshine and deep dives into the local history, just subscribe on our website at: www. livingmagazine.fr If you would like to promote your business or tourist attraction in our pages then please get in touch, particularly if you cater for Englishspeaking guests. We are updating this guide regularly through the summer months so it is never too late! Simply click a link below and get in touch. We always welcome any feedback you have, just email editorial (at) livingmagazine.fr or visit our website and use our ‘Contact Us’ form. We’d like to thank our regular Living Magazine team who have helped us to compile earlier versions of this guide: Roger Moss, Nadia van den Rym and Justin Silvester.

www.livingmagazine.fr PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS: ROGER MOSS Page 6 Page 6 Page 6 Page 7 Page 7 Page 8 Page 8 Page 8 Page 8 Page 10 Page 10 Page 11 Page 11 Page 20 Page 21

Fouras Fort Vauban Châtelaillon Plage Brouage Corderie Royale Royan harbour Royan cyclists Royan beach shelters Talmont-sur-Gironde Ile d’Oleron cabins I Ile d’Oleron cabins II Quai de Sénac Donkey in trousers La Mercerie Chateau de Javarzay

SHUTTERSTOCK COVER Page 5 Page 7 Page 10 Page 12 Page 13 Page 18 Page 23 Page 24 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 35 Page 38

Unai Huizi Photography: Marais Poitevin, near Coulon Trabantos: La Rochelle port cynoclub: Corderie Royale in Rochefort JIANG HONGYAN: Freshly opened oyster Philippe DEVANNE: Aerial photograph of Madame Island Philippe DEVANNE: Aerial photograph of Aix Island BearFotos: Chateau de Villebois-Lavalette Elena Dijour: Abbaye de Saint-Savin Halfpoint: Summer Festival ajt: Juggling balls mphot: Large gold trombone Mario Cales: Classical orchestra Ruslan Semichev: Glass of cognac Kovaleva_Ka: Grapes

www.livingmagazine.fr

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Couhé Verac airshow Celles-sur-Belle Saint-Savinien Dampierre Angles-sur-Anglin Charroux Châtellerault Abbaye de Saint-Savin Abbaye de la Reau Montmorillon Melle Marais-Poitevin Niort skyline Niort donjon Marais Poitevin

Page 39 Page 42 Page 44 Page 48 Page 49 Page 51 Page 54 Page 60 Page 61 Page 63 Page 64 Page 64 Page 67 Page 68 Page 73

stefano cellai: Cognac barrels Billion Photos: Beach bag Seregam : Ship rope Le Do: Red-tailed hawk FtLaud: Swimming goggles YanLev: Underwater swimmers Pecold: Saint-Pierre, Aulnay jorisvo: Angouleme Hotel de ville Leonid Andronov: Cathedral Saint Pierre gregorioa: Compostelo road sign Sanit Fuangnakhon: Checkered flag Sven Hansche: Panoramic view over Angles-sur-l’Anglin Super Prin: Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) MarkUK97: Poitiers street Valery Rokhin: Cognac quayside


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