Known as the 'Venice' of the Perigord, Brantome is situated on the banks of the river Dronne. The Abbey and the Abbey church date back to the 12th and 13th centuries and the botanical garden of Chateau de la Hierce is well worth a visit. After sightseeing, pony trecking or canoeing, why not enjoy a quiet drink or a snack in one of the many bars situated along the river's edge.
The world's best-known brandy comes from the peaceful countryside surrounding the Charente River one hundred miles north of Bordeaux. This slow moving river, which King François I called the loveliest river in his kingdom, passes through a placid landscape of vineyards bathed by a clear and radiant light. A twenty-mile area called the 'golden circle" of cognac production encompasses Cognac and the second distilling town of Jarnac.
Cognac, the medieval town which bears the name of the region, is attractive with its narrow medieval cobbled streets and elegant Renaissance facades. It is here that the fabled nectar has been created since the 13th century and that the very air one breathes is permeated by the heavy scent of spirits evaporating from oak casks held in storage: this aroma is referred to as the "angel's share'. World famous firms such as Camus, Hennessy, Niartell, Otard, Prince Hubert de Polignac, Rémy-Martin, Courvoisier, and Renault-Bisquit are located here; each distillery has its own secret and unique process for mixing the various blends of its eaux-de-vie. For just a few Euros, join a guided tour to learn about the double-distilling process that goes on in copper stills before the ageing in oak barrels where the precious liquor will improve, taking on its final bouquet and famous golden glow. Take a barge or a small train and discover the history of cognac, its vineyards, distilleries and museums which show you not only how it is made but proudly display the oldest reserve of cognacs dating back to 1830. Then how about a taste!
Angouleme, the capital of the Charente department is situated on a hill overlooking the Charente river and it's tributary, the Anguienne. It is an ancient city encircled by ramparts from which magnificent views may be enjoyed over the surrounding countryside.
The Cathedral of St Pierre dates from the 11th and 12th centuries and was partially rebuilt in the late 18th century by the architect Paul Abadie, who also built the Hotel de Ville on the site of the château of the Counts of Angouleme. This still retains two of the original château towers and now houses a museum of painting and archaeology.
Angouleme is a centre of the paper making industry with which it has been connected since the 14th century and visits can be made to the working Musee du Papier to see how it is made. Or, how about a visit to the chocolate factory on the outskirts of town?
Although an ancient city, Angouleme boasts many modern amenities such as boat hire (by yourself or take a guided boat trip), canoeing, horse riding, fishing, swimming, golf ...the list is endless.
To see more of the region, visit the official tourism website at
You too can visit Courvoisier and other Cognac houses
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On 10 June 1944, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Haute-Vienne in then Nazi-occupied France was destroyed, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a Nazi Waffen-SS company. A new village was built nearby after the war, but French president Charles de Gaulle ordered the original maintained as a permanent memorial and museum.
Today, you can visit the village and walk the streets. It is a quiet place with a sombre and respectful ambience.
Video credit Kenneth Emanuelsson