Volunteer In France

The Charente

Perhaps you have never heard of the Charente? Why come here for your holiday?  The Charente lies one hour north east of Bordeaux and an hour inland from the coast. It is an undulating department with woods and vineyards and sunflowers, scattered about with small lakes and picturesque villages often dating back to medieval times. Thirteenth century churches and chateaux are in abundance and provide fascinating viewing. Most Charente grapes are grown for Cognac or Pineau (a delicious mix of eau de vie and grape juice drunk as an aperitif,) but the fine wines of Bordeaux and St. Emilion are grown within driving distance of its borders.

A trip to a distillery or vineyard is an interesting excursion, usually with plenty to taste in the process! For relaxation many of the lakes have beaches. Picnic tables nestle under shady trees. There are golden sands for the children to play on and clear, clean waters for swimming often patrolled by lifeguards to ensure your families safety. There are way marked walks and cycle paths & tracks for the energetic though these pursuits are best followed on the warm days of late spring or early autumn.Summer will be hot but after lazy days by the pool, there are plenty of night markets and street concerts. There is a highly renowned 'blues festival' in Cognac during the last weekend of July each year.

 Cognac also offers one of the finest golf courses within the department where many of the holes are sponsored by the famous cognac houses. There are many restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. There are several gourmet, star-rated establishments but also many homely cafes with daily changing 3 or 4 course menus and house wine thrown in, all for under ten pounds a head. And why particularly Brossac? Brossac Situated at the most southerly point of the Charente is an ideal location with the borders of the Gironde, Dordogne and Charente-Maritime within 10 minuets drive. Brossac A French charming village, built close to a leisure lake, it offers all amenities. Bakers, Butcher, Supermarket, Bank, Holiday accommodation, Post office, Restaurants, Tennis, Swimming, Fishing....you will find them all here. There are night entertainments in summer and Chalais with its enormous weekly market is just ten minutes away. It is 45 minutes to Cognac and the distilleries or a 30 minute drive to Aubeterre with its subterranean church. A must see! There is kayaking and river sports on both the Dronne and Dordogne rivers. If you want to visit a large, historic town then you are spoiled for choice... Angouleme, Libourne, Saintes, Perigeux, all driving distance and with history dating back to the Romans! If you fancy a day by the sea you can choose quiet coves, bustling marinas or natural phenomenons like the dune du pyla. Freshly caught fish can be found on restaurant menus everywhere.

Charente has become the favorite among non French nationals with many British, Irish and dutch arriving to settle and for holiday homes in the department of Charente. The department has turned from one of schools and bars closing to an up and coming attraction and investment for those seeking property abroad. The fact that the Capital of Charente does not have a auto route or motorway has kept the capital Angouleme a bit of an unknown jewel of France. But the route national 10 or RN10 has been transformed in to what can only be described as a free auto route with 99% of the route being dual carriageway and free of tolls. The airport at Angouleme is about to offer international flights starting some time in 2007. The high speed TGV train is improving it's rail links into Angouleme Property Prices in Charente have been going up steadily over the past 5 years and I can see no let off as the number of bargains or old wrecks have diminished considerable. In 1997 I used to walk from La Giraudiere to our local village Brossac and I would pass what you can only describe as some 20 derelict properties, these properties now house families from all over Europe who have come to settle here. Another good indication of the rising popularity of the Charente is the fact that in 1997 there was 1 estate agent or immobilier in Chalais which lies 8 km south of La Giraudiere and now there is four maybe five agents so business must be good.
Statistics or Charente Population 1999 - estimative 339,628 Population density: 57/km
Land area :5956 km² 
Angouleme (Iculisma or Ecolisna, later Angoulesme) was taken by Clovis from the Visigoths in 507, and plundered by the Normans in the 9th century. In 1360 it was surrendered by the Treaty of Brétigny to the English; they were, however, expelled in 1373 by the troops of Charles V, who granted the town numerous privileges. It suffered much during the French Wars of Religion, especially in 1568 after its capture by the Protestants under Coligny. The county of Angouleme dated from the 9th century, the most important of the early counts being William Taillefer, whose descendants held the title till the end of the 12th century. Withdrawn from them on more than one occasion by Richard Coeur-de-Lion, it passed to King John of England on his marriage with Isabel, daughter of Count Adhémar, and by her subsequent marriage in 1220 to Hugh X passed out to the Lusignan family, counts of Marche. On the death of Hugh XIII in 1302 without issue, his possessions passed to the crown. In 1394 the countship came to the house of Orleans, a member of which, Francis I, became king of France in 1515 and raised it to the rank of duchy in favour of his mother Louise of Savoy. The duchy, now crown land and only nominally a duchy, thereafter was passed on within the ruling house of France, one of its holders being Charles of Valois, natural son of Charles IX. The last duke was Louis-Antoine, eldest son of Charles X, who died in 1844.
Angouleme is twinned with:

    *  Bury, United Kingdom
    *  Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada
    *  Gelendzhik, Russia
    *  Hildesheim, Germany
    *  Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States
    *  Ségou, Mali
    *  Turda, Romania
    *  Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

The Charente South West France

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