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Home of Cognac, the Charente is a charming rural department in southwestern France. The region’s two main towns, Cognac and Angoulème have been built on the banks of the Charente river, which is a wonderful river to cruise or canal-boat along. It could be the relaxed rural pace, the pretty villages, or the cognac, but Charente is one of the most popular departments for British retirees to settle in. Our Guru’s list of the best places to stay in Charente include a lovely fairytale Château and a small, elegant, lakeside hideaway.
Charente’s main sights number of lovely old towns, known for their graceful Romanesque architecture and impressive cathedrals and churches. Two of the best known are Angoulème and Aubeterre sur Dronne, which, with its unusual Romanesque ‘monolithic’ church carved right into rock, is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Charente also has a number of lovely châteaux.
And then of course there’s Cognac, with its numerous cognac houses, fortified walls and rather beautiful town centre with cobbled streets and a collection of wonderful 15th and 16th Century buildings. Cognac also has an art museum and an art and history museum. And as well as being famous for its brandy, Cognac is on the route of the Santiago de Compostella, so there are some wonderfully marked waking trails all around the town.
All of the big name cognac brands have a ‘house’ here, and all of them have visitor centres where you can see the double distilling process in action. Take your pick between Martell, Henessy Camus and Remy Martin, or go just east of Cognac to Jarnac for Courvoisier.
This region can get as busy as its better known neighbour, the Dordogne, during the peak summer months. So if you want to be sure of a bed in one of the best places to stay in the Charente during July or August, get organised and book well ahead.
- Domaine du Chatelard is a small but very elegant, lakeside hotel with just 12 rooms, decorated with period furnishings, and wonderful lake and garden views. Despite the small size, there’s still an outdoor pool and tennis court in the sunny terraced grounds. The restaurant is Italian, and very good.
- Logis de la Broue has one bedroom, three suites and two self catering cottages, all converted from a former vineyard, turned hotel and horse-breeding centre. The rooms offer rustic chic, with toile de jouy wallpaper, and exposed beams and stonework. Plus there are lovely gardens and a tennis court and swimming pool.
For a chateau stay
- The Château de la Motte is a wonderful ‘sleeping beauty’ style medieval castle with round towers and pointed turrets in white and dove grey. Its five bedrooms have four poster beds, fireplaces and stone walls - but modern bathrooms! Outside there’s a pool and gardens. And inside there’s supposedly a ghost…
- Le Château du Mesnieux is a stunning country house style château set within its own parkland, but just outside a pretty little village. The four bedrooms are huge, with parquet floors and fireplaces, and there’s an enormous swimming pool, a games room with billiards table, and bikes to keep you entertained.
- Chateau de Nieul is a grand historic pile with 10 individually designed rooms and oodles of character and period pieces. There's an atmospheric moat, lovely gardens and pool for relaxing. Plus it won't break the bank!
- For Cognac lovers we'd recommend a stay at the Hotel LIgaro. It's situated just a stone's throw from the Courvoisier "house" at the Chateau de Jarnac, and offers chic accommodation plus a gourmet restaurant.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Charente for you? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Charente, expand your search to include the Dordogne, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice.
Best Hotels in Charente
Domaine du Chatelard 12 rooms from $95Dirac, Charente
An elegant lakeside hotel. Rooms feature period furniture, garden views and spacious bathrooms. Outdoor pool, tennis court, sunny terrace and gardens. Fantastic Italian cuisine. Romantic, pretty and quiet.Romantic Break - Lakeside walks, riding and cycling with picnics, as well as gourmet food on the pretty terraceSights nearby - Angoulême Cathedral and the city’s historic RempartsGreat walks - Good for walkers.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Logis de la Broue 1 rooms from $114Saint-Claud, Charente
A former wine producing property now a charming logis in the Charente countryside. Beautiful bedrooms are rustic chic with toile de jouy wallpapers, wooden beams and stone archways. Two self catering apartments are ideal for families. Gardens, swimming pool, and plenty to do in the countryside.Country Escape - Stunning Charente countryside.FamiliesSights nearby - Angoulême: Romanesque churches, museums.Romantic - Good for couples.
Le Chateau du Mesnieux 4 rooms from $114Saint-Adjutory, Charente
A stunning chateau in acres of parkland just outside a little village. Beautiful bedrooms are enormous with parquet floors, creamy furnishings, and fireplaces. Enormous swimming pool, billiards, bikes, riding, walks in the park. Lots of villages to explore. Very romantic and luxurious.Romantic BreakLuxurySights nearby - Angoulême with its cathedral.Back to Nature - Perfect for nature lovers.
Hôtel Ligaro 10 rooms from $159Jarnac, Charente
Hôtel Ligaro offers spacious, sleek and contemporary rooms, decorated in neutral tones in a traditional townhouse in the centre of Jarnac. There's a gourmet reetaurant for serious foodies and plenty of activities on the Charente River or exploring in Cognac, which is only 10km away.Wine tasting - Located in the heart of Cognac countryFishing - Excellent fishing nearby.Kayaking - Available locally.
Château de Nieuil 10 rooms from $166Nieuil, Charente
Stunning French chateau rumoured to be the first to open its rooms to guests (in 1937). The favoured hunting lodge of Francois I, the rooms are spacious, elegant & airy, each slightly different from the next and all furnished with antique pieces. Come to explore the moat, extensive gardens and pool.Sights nearby - Explore the Charente and neighbouring Limousin regions. Cognac, Angouleme & Confolens are all easily reachable.Swimming Pool - OutdoorLocal markets - Good for local colour.Views - Great views from hotel
Le Couvent des Cordeliers 6 rooms from $257Verteuil-sur-Charente, Charente
Perched on the edge of the Charente river sits this gorgeous hotel. The six suites are beautifully done, each with its own style and filled with lovely unique furnishings. Enjoy a delicious meal in the pretty outdoor terrace or relax by the lovely swimming pool. Medieval charm at its very best.Riverside - Le Couvent des Cordeliers sits on the banks of the Charente River.Historic - Housed in a 15th-century monasterySights nearby - Explore the medieval village of Verteuil and its castleViews - The bedrooms have wonderful views of the Charente river
Domaine des Etangs 29 rooms from $457Charente
This stunning Domaine is located just outside Angouleme in the Charente Limousine region. The chateau and its 7 cottages are decorated elegantly and traditionally but with some modern features incorporated. There's a superb restaurant, a spa and a pool. A classy and romantic countryside retreat.Country Escape - A stunning countryside location with 100 hectares of surrounding woods, beautiful ponds and a restaurant overlooking the valleyRomantic Break - Stunning nature, romantic walks through the woods, spa sessions and evening meals overlooking the valley-what could be better?Great walks - With such extensive and beautiful grounds there are plenty of great routesRemote - Off the beaten track.Recommended by - Small Luxury Hotels, Johansens