Published the 07/01/2020 in Exploring the Region
This summer we invite you to travel across Nouvelle Aquitaine to discover its regions, very different one from another both in landscape and cultural heritage. First stop: Charentes!
North of Bordeaux, less than two hours away, a completely different country awaits you. Charente et Gironde both have vineyards, ocean and rich cultural heritage. But landscape changes as well as architecture and gastronomy. The destination is pure off the beaten path and unknown for many tourists. Here are some essentials not to be missed during a visit to Charentes!
Ile d’Oléron, île de Ré, île d'Aix, La Rochelle… beauties of French Atlantic coast that is renowned for its wide open spaces with immense sandy beaches, ideal for practicing sand yachting at low tide for example. There are also salt marshes and oyster farms, two flagship activities of the region and the origin of two great products. Take the opportunity to discover the production of salt and taste oysters from Marennes Oléron.
The islands are perfect for exploring by bike since they all have many cycle paths, and Île d'Aix particularly can be visited only by bike or on foot. And if you want to stay active, try sailing on the Marennes-Oléron Bay which is just perfect for it.
To relax, take a boat trip, sunbathe on the beach or spend some time in a thalassotherapy center. Perfect for recharging your batteries!
Do not miss: tasting oysters and mussels, bike ride on the island of Aix or the island of Ré, an initiation to sailing in La Rochelle, the vineyards of the islands or the colorful cabins of the Château d 'Oléron.
Gourmet highlights: oysters, imperial shrimps (from July to November), bouchot mussels and for freshness a nice Charentais melon with a glass of white Pineau des Charentes.
For a well-being and nature getaway add the "Charente Maritime" block to your stay.
We leave the coast towards the land to discover one of the most famous spirits in the world. The city which gives its name to the spirit will seduce you with its historical charms but also by its dark cellars, often well hidden.
In addition to Cognac, Pineau des Charentes is also worth tasting. It's a liqueur wine obtained by mixing grape must and Cognac. It can be red, rosé or white, and can be drunk as an aperitif or as a cocktail. Old and very old Pineau des Charentes are aged at least 5 or 10 years in oak barrels and go perfectly with cheeses such as Roquefort, old comptés or foie gras.
The famous Pineau François Ier, bearing the image of one of the most glorious inhabitants of Cognac (the future king of France was born in Cognac in 1494) is today one of the most famous.
The production of Cognac is not limited to Cognac but extends over a large perimeter from the north of Gironde to islands of Oléron and Ré. There are six vintages, including the famous Grandes and Petites Champagnes, which often cause a confusion (no relation to champagne, even if Champagne generally designates fertile soil on a limestone base, bearing good vineyards). Thus, not all Cognac houses are located in Cognac. The town of Jarnac, where we find Courvoisier and Hine houses, is not to be missed.
The region has a rich artisanal heritage since it is in Cognac that we find most of the production of barrels . The artisanal know-how of the cooperage is transmitted and exported because these barrels, mainly made of French oak, will be used for Cognac, but also for the production of wines in most of the vineyards of the world.
You can discover this unique know-how during a visit to a renowned Cognac house or have lunch in a family property while meeting with a producer.
Do not miss: the towns of Cognac and Jarnac, a canoe descent of the Charente, the houses of Cognac, the visit of a cooperage, a hike or bike ride in Grande Champagne.
Gourmet highlights: cagouilles "à la charentaise" with a touch of cognac; Manslois, 100% Charente cheese, and caviar in perfect harmony with cognac!
The tailor-made block "Around Cognac" is perfect for discovering the know-how of the region. And for an exceptional moment, we offer you an exceptional weekend.
Angoulême, French capital of comics and city of Art and History, awaits you. The cathedral of 12th century, the ramparts offering a superb view of the Charente valley and of course the CNBDI, National Center for Comics and Images. And if you are there in January (it is the midst of distillation period after all) you can attend the International Comics Festival.
Gourmet highlights: the Charente truffle (famous Jarnac truffle market takes place every Tuesday from December to February), saffron, pâté of Charente (grillon) and Barbezieux chicken, and a Charente galette for dessert!
There are still things to do and see! The famous Palmyre zoo, magnificent castles, production of salt or honey or saffron, the island of Aix or an unforgettable canoe trip down the rivers of the region.
Tempted by a getaway in Charentes? Discover the My Private French Travel thematic blocks to combine according to your wishes!
The Dordogne awaits you! Continue your trip around the region of New Aquitaine by discovering a real pearl of the department - the Périgord! From green to white through black, we give you the meaning of these colors in our next article!