Sunflower fields and open farm land around La Grange, Chalais, Charente
Situated in the sunny south Charente department of France, the area benefits from one of the sunniest climates in all of Southern France, next in sunshine hours to the Côte d'Azure. The area is criss-crossed with roads and cycle paths, corn and sunflower fields and of course vines for making Cognac and Pineau, the local aperatif. Chalais is 2 minutes by car and has a hill top chateau containing one of the best restaurants in the area. There is a weekly Monday morning market where you can buy all the local produce and handicrafts.
Quiet country walking
Chateau Tallyrand at Chalais
Weekly produce market

A short drive away is the hilltop village of Aubeterre, classified as one of the prettiest villages in France, with its monolithic church dating back to roman times. Angouleme is the departmental town for the Charente and as well as an impressive town hall it has the internationally aclaimed Museum of Cartoons - bande dessine - and a delightfull pedestrianised old quarter where you can find many fine restaraunts and boutiques, and chocolateries ! In summer the area hosts the European hot air ballooning championships and in early September the classic car race the "Race of the Ramparts" takes place through the streets of Angouleme old town.

Aubeterre monolithic church Angouleme castle
Hot air ballooning

A little further afield is the very popular town of Brantome, known as the "Venice of the Perigord" because of its river and canal setting and Duras in the Lot et Garonne department with its magnificent chateau and some fine wines. Also known for its wines but also its wonderful architecture Bordeaux is around an hours drive, with chic shops and a new hi-tec tram system which makes getting in and out of the centre so much easier.

Brantome - Venice of the Perigord
Bordeaux - World heritage site
Chateau at Duras

Slightly farther afield is the Atlantic coast with some wonderful beaches near Royan, seafood restaraunts at La Rochelle with its famous harbour and fascinating aquarium. Slightly south of Bordeaux you arrive at Arcachon famous for its shellfish and the magnificent Dune du Pyla. Here you will find some of the finest surfing in europe.

Atlantic coast
Aquarium at La Rochelle
La Rochelle port
Arcachon beach
Wonderful seafood restaurants
Dune du Pyla and surfing

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