Charente is a department in the Poitou-Charentes region of France, located in the west of the country. The area is famous for its cognac brandy, named after the town in Charente, as well as number of historical sites and buildings. Those who prefer exploring the outdoors will find plenty of opportunity in Charente, especially in the north of the region where water sports are popular in the rivers and lakes.
Although the town of Cognac is now most konjakas famous for the brandy that has been produced there for centuries, it is also a picturesque town on the Charente River with a number of historical churches, castles and museums. One of those museums is, of course, dedicated to the history and art of making Cognac, while many of the most famous producers of the drink open their doors to visitors for tours and tastings. South of the town, you can drive through the vineyards that supply the white grapes used in making the drink. Although these are usually more private than the Cognac houses in town, it is a very beautiful part of Charente, covering 80,000 hectares here and in surrounding departments. East of Cognac, along the Charente River, you will come to the smaller town of Jarnac, the birthplace of former French President, Francois Mitterand. A museum in the town displays some of the many presents he was given when serving as President, from dignitaries from all around the world.
Water sports and thermal baths
In the north of the Charente region are two lakes, the Lavaud and Mas Chaban, which not only offer visitors the chance to relax on sandy beaches in the summer months, but more adventurous tourists can try out some of the many water sports on offer here. You can hire sailing boats, canoes, catamarans or try windsurfing, as well as finding quiet spots to fish. If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, you can enjoy one of the many walking trails around the lakeshores, including one route, which takes you to an ornithological look-out post at Foucherie.
Only a few miles from this lake region of Charente are the remains of a Roman thermal baths, at the modern village of Chassenon. The remains are very well preserved and parts of the 1st century complex are still open to the public today, including underground rooms and hot and cold swimming pools.