Things to do from Chateau de Charras
Things to do from Chateau de Charras
Things to do from Chateau de Charras: There are so many activities within easy reach (by car) that are exciting and family friendly such as canoeing in Brantome, swimming at St. Estephe, enjoying the wonders of Futuroscope and many more. I have listed but a few of our family favourites below.
Brantome is an attractive town near the northern edge of the Dordogne department, sometimes known as the Venice of the Dordogne (slight exaggeration – strictly speaking), the town has a nice mix of medieval and renaissance architecture to admire. The town is classed as one of ‘les Plux Beaux Detours’ in France.
Check out the abbey (built by Charlemagne in 769 and the main historical highlight of the town) and at the troglodyte section behind the abbey including the famous cave of the ‘Last Judgement’. These are the remains of the original abbey and during the summer you can do a night-time visit of the troglodyte section – very atmospheric.
It is above all the situation of Brantome on the river Dronne, that encircles a large part of the town, and the steep wooded slopes around the town, that add most to its attraction – the river is calm and gentle at this point, covered with lilies, and sheltered by weeping willows – it is very pleasant to walk along the edge of the river and through the river-side gardens.
Canoes can be hired at Brantome for a relaxing glide along the river (a favourite with adults and children). Brantôme market day is Friday.
Listed as one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne immediately appeals to the visitors with its beautiful houses arranged as an amphitheatre and dominating the River Dronne. The charming wooden balconies decorating the facades of certain houses add to the picturesque nature of the place.
The village possesses a remarkable historic building, which is quite unusual: the Saint-Jean monolithic church, an underground church carved out of the rock in the 12th century by the Benedictines. This building has a vault reaching 20 metres high and is the biggest troglodyte church in Europe! This site should not be missed under any circumstances!
In the summer, the sandy beach along the River Dronne, below the village, is the perfect place for relaxing and swimming. Water sports fans can canoe and kayak to their heart’s content on the River Dronne.
The Lac Saint Estèphe has much to offer families, especially in the summer. Different playgrounds for different ages, very clean, picnic tables, refreshments shop (and a very good ice cream shop).
There is a beautiful paved walk all the way around the lake with a little foot ferry at the end which the children all love. It has a lovely beach too with 2 easy style beach-side restaurants.
The quiet streets of the village are lined with typical Charentais houses, and there is much to enjoy simply by strolling around the village admiring the shopfronts and small architectural details, as well as the highlights below.
The village is best known for the imposing Chateau de Villebois that stands on a raised promontory above the village. The extensive defensive walls and six incorporated towers, in the attractive white stone of the region, were built in the 12th-13th century* and wind around the hilltop, giving access to the inner castle through a gateway between two substantial round towers. Earlier structures in the same location include settlements by both the Gauls and the Romans and an earlier castle.
Inside the walls of the Chateau de Villebois a the lodge was constructed in the 17th century to provide more comfortable accommodation, although a significant portion was later destroyed by a fre in the 19th century.
You can also see a 12th century chapel incorporated into the castle walls, accessible from both the inside of the castle and from outside, with the lower part for the use of pilgrims passing through Villebois-Lafayette and the upper floor for use by the lords of the castle.
Other notable highlights in Villebois-Lavalette include the traditional 17th century market hall in the town centre, supported by a combination of carved round stone columns and traditional carpentry, and the substantial 13th century Church of Saint-Romain that also stands tall above the town centre.
There is also a small 19th century fountain next to a well (in front of the market hall) and a 17th century sundial.
The weekly market in Villebois-Lavalette takes place on a Saturday morning.
The town of Montbron is approx. 18 minute drive away from the Chateau de Charras. It is a great place to visit for just a stroll around an old-style small French rural town but it has good local restaurants and an Italian, La Toscana, which is cheap and very cheerful.
Also, there is a good Intermarche supermarket in Montbron.
Slightly, outside the town there is a more upmarket restaurant, Moulin De La Tardoire, which is also very good value and is situated in a wonder mill location beside two chateaux – booking essential.
THE CHATEAU OF LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
Known locally as the “Pearl of the Angoumois”, the Château of La Rochefoucauld was built in the 11th century and then modified many times during the following centuries. Of Renaissance style, this remarkable building magnificently overhangs the River Tardoire.
The Château, which is open to the public, features a square keep, a main courtyard, a spiral staircase, furnished rooms, a Guards Room, the boudoir of Marguerite de Valois, a library and a Gothic chapel.
LA ROQUE-GAGEAC BEYNAC (AQUITAINE, FRANCE)
Things to do from Chateau de Charras: La Roque Gageac adjacent to Beynac, one of the ‘most beautiful villages of France’, is roughly a 2h drive from Chateau de Charras.
La Roque-Gageac is in a magnificent location. Although only a small village, little more than a row of riverside houses squeezed between the Dordogne river to the front and sheltered below the overhanging cliffs behind, it is very picturesque.
When you arrive the village might seem familiar – it is one of these villages that appear very often on calendars and guidebook covers.
Distance from Chateau de Charras: 1h46m – A different kind of leisure park experience for all the family!
One of the largest leisure parks in France, Futuroscope on the outskirts of Poitiers is packed with innovative activities for all the family. Synonymous with moving image technology since 1987, Futuroscope’s diverse attractions are all based on the senses and, in particular on our sense of vision. There are very few height restrictions, so young and old can share the experiences together – and the memories. Futuroscope educates while it entertains.
Things to do from Chateau de Charras: PERIGUEUX
About a 55 minute drive from Chateau de Charras, the ‘capital’ of the Dordogne department is set towards the north of the region. Many miles from the Dordogne River, it is actually found on the Isle River.
The town has been in existence since neolithic times, and later became an important Roman centre. The town suffered a great deal in the Middle Ages through the Hundred Years War and other conflicts in the region, then had a ‘rebirth’ – and much construction in the town dates from this time – in the 16th century. From the 18th century onwards, Perigueux continues to be an important centre for the region.
Each of these periods has left its mark on the town. From Roman times, you can see the Vesone Tower and the remains of the amphitheatre, and the Chateau Barrière dates from the early middle ages. Saint-Etienne church (once a cathedral) dates largely from the 16th century when it was reconstructed, although parts of the earlier church on the same site can still be seen.
Perigueux also contains an interesting medieval and renaissance centre, with attractive boulevards and streets lined with medieval houses to explore – these are concentrated in the region around the cathedral Saint Front, which also retains its attractive arched cloisters.