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Greeting the Atlantic Ocean with miles of sandy shoreline and vast stretches of oyster beds, Charente is one of the most visited areas of France. Here, the sun shines warmly and brightly, children play on the beaches and port towns such as La Rochelle combine picturesque historic centres with fine restaurants and modern shops. Off the coast are enchanting islands, the most popular of which are the Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oleron, which are best explored in early summer before the crowds arrive and possess plenty of cycle paths that are ideal for leisurely exploration.

Away from the coast Charente is noticeably quieter, offering a different cultural experience. Pretty villages reveal a sleepier side to the region; with its ruined castle, arched bridge and prehistoric rock carvings, Angles-sur-l’Anglin is a real treasure, while the fortifications and abbey at Nouaille-Maupertius hark back to a more restless era. Brandy connoisseurs shouldn’t miss the chance to discover Cognac, its white stone buildings dazzling against a blue sky. The distilleries can be found in the old town, alongside historic houses that line the cobbled streets.

Charente is a paradise for walking and cycling particularly out of high season, when the sun’s heat bears less intensity and the main attractions are less busy.

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