France » River Charente | France

Surely one of the nicest rivers to navigate on in France

River Charente | France: Characteristics & Overview

Rating of waterway

Length of waterway: 167 km
Number of locks: 21
Lock dimensions: 34.00 x 5.00
Max. depth: 1.00
Max. headroom: 3.00
Degree of difficulty: Demanding
Requirements: No license asked for hired boats
Character of waterway: back to nature, with urban surroundings, old waterway, to be rediscovered
Profile of waterway: Used by tourists only
Facilities groundside: Sufficiant

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Waterway has access to:

Atlantic Sea

River Charente is very beautiful with a surrounding full of changes. Some experience in navigation is surely not a disadvantage.

River Charente and its history
The well of this river can be found between Angoulême and Limoges. First it makes a long way round to the north until Civray were it suddenly turns southwards. It is navigable all the way from the Atlantic (Rochefort) to Angoulême.

Already ancient rulers thought of this river to be one of the most beautiful of France. This has not changed since. After Rochefort one passes an immense area with gentle hills and old villages like St. Savinien, Saintes, Chaniers and so forth. Two or three days later one reaches the capital of this region, Cognac. A well known city all over the world for its “eau de vie”! Shortly after this famous and very beautiful town the area becomes nearly mountainous and we come across old electric power companies and paper mills (not working anymore) occupied by bats only. After some small villages and châteaux we arrive at the end of the week at Angoulême, the French capital of comics.

Information for your boating holiday between Limousin and Poitou-Charente:
Advantage: A varied surrounding, good infrastructure and climate
Disadvantage: The Stretch between Angoulême and Cognac is very beautiful but rather demanding because of the many shoals. Towards the Atlantic the river gets tidal as from Savinien.
Already for its geographic diversity, this is a river for families and friends!

Houseboat Holiday in France, River Charente
Le Boat, Jarnac  |  Nicols, Juac, FPP, Angoulème

It is rather strange, the river is before Angoulême almost a creek and all of a sudden it gets navigable. But let us stay in this city for a while first. It is not only the city with the most important comic museum; it also has a very nice old center with many fine Restaurants.  Not to forget about the gorgeous paper museum, we are here in the center of the ancient French paper industry.  Further down the valley, one or the other old paper mill will is witness of this glorious past.
We get along quite well know, to the city of Cognac the river is often turning and at some points rather small but all of as sudden it becomes wide and generous and one seems to feel the first breezes of  the Atlantic Sea…

River Boutonne
is the most important side-river of the Charente.  It used to be navigable from Saint-Jean-d’Angély to the mouth of the Charente. But in 1926 navigation ceased also on this stretch.
The last few years now, all the locks were repaired and waiting pontoons were installed, but the small river is still not navigable. Let’s hope for a change soon…

Wine and Dine
It is self understood that there is wine growing in this region. Only, it doesn’t appear in this form, in most cases it comes as Cognac into the glasses..
Another, rather malicious drink, the Pineau de Charente is well worth trying. It’s the result of flushing the barrels with red or white wine though, a mix of wine and Cognac. Workers used to get this and since they liked it, it is no available to everyone and specially liked by women.
As far as food’s concerned, everything from the hilly surroundings of the upper river to seafood can be found. Something in between is Coquilles St. Jacques in smoked bacon. Also “escargots” in different varieties are being served.