Abbey church at Marcillac
Marcillac: magnificent Abbey church

leyt's imagine you have just arrived and don't want to do much on the first day or two. On the other hand you need to get to the shops.

Here are a few suggestions within 20 minutes' drive. With the exception of Jarnac, your guide books aren't going to be much use. Buy or borrow the IGN Niort-Angoulême (Série Verte) map for local sightseeing. Dolmens, castles etc. are clearly marked. The Série Bleue 1631 E Rouillac (available from local 'Presse' newsagents) is handy if you intend to go walking or cycling off-road.

Attractions further afield (towns, coast, islands)

Hamlet of la Bréchoire and the nearest shops

MAIN PICTURE ABOVE: The 12th-century abbey church at Marcillac-Lanville has been the subject of major restoration works, and is open to visitors. The massive structure is easily seen from the D939 Périguex to La Rochelle road and is only a few minutes from La Bréchoire. It's a great space inside too, with leaning columns and traces of medieval fresco. Concerts are occasionally held.

Click on the small images below to enlarge.

View of Auge from the forest Weather permitting, take a walk into the Forêt d'Anville. Turn right from the house (onto the D75) and walk past the end of the village before taking the second track on your right. This will take you into the woods, with great views, wild orchids, strawberries, sloe and walnut trees, beehives, birds etc. Follow blue-marked path (map from tourist offices) Or you can do a 45 mins circular to Anville and back.
Logis de la  Logerie

Visit the Logis de la Logerie near Bonneville, open from 11.00 to 19.00 most days. Run and inhabited by Mme Nicole Bordier plus harmless dogs, this ancient manor house and barn are given over to arts and crafts. Many objects for sale at reasonable prices - all hand-made. Probably most easily found if you drive or cycle to Saint-Médard and pick up the signs from there.

Tasteless statue at Aigre Talk about the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies! Other attractions in Aigre, less than 15 mins away by car, are a weekly market and a couple of restaurants. Nice quiet town for shops, banks, tourist info etc. Boasts, for some reason, two huge ironmongers (try asking for mirror plates or spring toggles).
Plan d'eau at Les Gours
Free places to swim include the natural lake at Les Gours, 15-20 minutes' drive to the north on the D75 by car. There are also quiet waymarked walks through the fields and woods, and a mysterious buvette in a hangar-like shed.
Neuvicq le Château
Neuvicq le Château is a small village with, predictably, a 15th-century castle, now owned by the local council. In its day, this was an important town. Now it is definitely not. The castle holds free exhibitions. There's an excellent cognac producer (Balladour) nearby.
Ah, the fleshpots of Rouillac...! Super U is open all day, every day (inc. Sun morning), which is almost unheard of in France. There is a large arts centre where we once saw John Mayall play, but it isn't quite the Barbican. Also outdoor swimming pool, banks, PMU bar, DIY stores.
Roman theatre at Les Bouchauds
There is a huge Gallo-Roman theatre at Les Bouchauds (close to Rouillac, above) on a wooded hill in the middle of nowhere. Admire that Roman brickwork, and the sanctuary behind the theatre itself. Occasionally used for summer festivities (Les Sarabandes), it's as big as the theatre at Orange, so where did the audience of 30,000 come from?
Some gentle tourism can be undertaken at Jarnac, 20 minutes to the south. Lovely shops, Mittérand museum, restaurants, indoor market, banks and supermarkets, Courvoisier headquarters and long riverside walks to Bourg-Charente or around the locks.

Copyright © 2001-2016 Colin Wight