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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 are a number of lovely old towns, known for their graceful Romanesque architecture and impressive cathedrals and churches. 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.
What Not To Miss
- Angoulême Church, with its unusual Romanesque ‘monolithic’ church carved right into rock, is a stunning spot to visit. Moreover, the village itself is classified as one of the most beautiful in France.
- If you love a bit of Cognac then the House of Remy Martin is a must-visit! Head around their site; learning all about the distilling process and enjoying a few tasters to boot.
- The Musée d'Angoulème, whilst not huge, is a very interesting place to spend a couple of hours.
- Enjoy a lovely afternoon walk around the tranquil Jardin Public de Cognac.
Where To Stay
- Known globally for its brandy, the town of Cognac enjoys a pleasant setting on the Charente river. Full of historic architecture and with beautiful surrounds, it's a truly lovely place to stay,
- Angoulême, the department's capital, is known for its magnificent street art that you'll see everywhere when wandering around town. It's also known as France's Comic Strip Capital, and it hosts the Angoulême International Comics Festival each year.
For Cognac and its Surrounds
- Chateau de L'Yeuse is an elegant stay, with its charming traditional rooms and riverside location. Tuck into traditional French food and unwind in the spa, sauna or pool. A top spot.
- 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.
- Le Relais de Saint Preuil is a boutique stay located on a vineyard. This former coaching house boasts rustic rooms with antique furniture and wooden beams, whilst there are plenty of activities going on in the local area for you to enjoy.
- The 19th century Chateau Saint Martial is a stunning place to stay. Their opulent rooms are bound to impress, whilst you can spend your days relaxing in their 6 acres of impressive gardens.
For Angoulême and its Surrounds
- Le Logis de Puygaty is a charming country house B&B. Offers three rooms as well as a small separate cottage for families.
- 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.
- Chateau de Maumont is a magnificent ivy-clad chateau full of rustic charm, four posters and set in wonderful gardens. A treat.
For All Else
- Logis de la Broue, set in the vllage of Saint-Claud, has one bedroom, three suites and two self-catering cottages. The rooms offer rustic chic, with toile de jouy wallpaper, and exposed beams and stonework. Plus there are lovely gardens, a tennis court and a swimming pool.
- Le Château du Mesnieux is a stunning country house style château set within its own parkland, but just outside the pretty little village of Saint-Adjutory. 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 boasting oodles of character and period pieces. There's an atmospheric moat, lovely gardens and pool for relaxing. Plus it won't break the bank!
- Le Couvent des Cordeliers, perched on the banks of the river, is a splendid medieval property boasting six unique suites and a swimming pol.
- Domaine des Etangs is a truly dreamy stay. Set in a stunning historic chateau with seven adjoining cottages, the rooms are wonderfully romantic and the cuisine is top-notch.
For an Apartment or Villa
If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browes through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.
- You're best off visiting around July or August, when the weather gets up to an average of 20°C.
- If you're coming from abroad then you should probably fly into Bordeaux Airport before then taking the train to Charente.
- If you think you'll need a car then visit our care hire partners, Rentalcars.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Charente for you?
Best Hotels in Charente
Chateau de L'Yeuse 24 rooms from £66Cognac
An elegant hotel near the river Charente. Charming rooms feature opulent wallpapers, antique style furniture, and stunning views. Spa, sauna and outdoor pool. Gourmet French food, lovely bar area. Great value, family friendly.Families - With so many activities on the doorstep, it will be hard to find time to enjoy the hotel's pool and gardensSights nearby - Chateau de la RochefoucauldLocal markets - Good for local colour.Spa
Domaine du Chatelard 12 rooms from £73Dirac, 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
Le Relais de Saint Preuil 8 rooms from £67Charente
Charming boutique hotel on a Cognac vineyard offering traditional and rustic rooms, family suites and a cottage. A former 17th century coaching house, the rooms omit a 19th century elegance, with antique furniture and wooden beams. Tours and tastings are organised for guests around local vineyards.Active Holiday - Your hosts can organise hot air balloon rides, tours of vineyards, cooking classes or golf trips.Cooking classes - Cooking classes are offered to guests.Swimming Pool - Outdoor swimming pool.Outstanding location
Logis de la Broue 1 rooms from £88Saint-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 £88Saint-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.
Chateau de Maumont 5 rooms from £110Charente
Ivy-clad 16th century chateau. Interiors are full of rustic charm with four poster beds, parquet floors and contemporary bathrooms. Hot tub and massages available, two hectares of fragrant gardens and terrace. Peaceful, grown up and at good value.Country Escape - Set within 2 hectare garden, with hot tub and massage for your enjoyment, take a walk along the riverGreat walks - Walk along the "green path" (Coulée Verte)Sights nearby - The Rochefoucauld ChâteauFull of character
Hôtel Ligaro 10 rooms from £122Jarnac, 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 £127Nieuil, 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
Chateau Saint Martial 5 rooms from £131Cognac (16200 JARNAC)
Perched next to the Charente river sits this beautiful 19th Century Chateau with its equally beautiful 6 acre garden. The bedrooms retain their charming character and are filled with pretty pieces of antique furniture. Plenty of fabulous sites nearby including La Rochelle and Cognac distilleries.Artworks - There is a private collection of artworkSights nearby - Located 4.3 miles from the famous Abbaye de Bassac and enjoy the picturesque charm of La RochelleSpa - No spa but you can request swedish or californian massagesGreat walks - Lovely walks near Jarnac
Le Logis de Puygaty 3 rooms from £132Chadurie, Charente
A charming French country house B&B. Delightful rooms with sandstone walls and exposed beams. One small separate cottage for families. Lawns and a swimming pool. A restful spot for couples or families to explore the wine region of Bordeaux.Country Escape - A place designed for reading and relaxation.Swimming Pool - Lovely Outdoor PoolFull of characterGreat walks - Good for walkers.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Sawdays
Le Couvent des Cordeliers 6 rooms from £197Verteuil-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 £351Charente
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