Wonderful Villages, Charente-Maritime
When people think of Charente-Maritime they tend to think of the wonderful coastline and of places such as La Rochelle and Royan. However, the department of Charente-Maritime holds some surprises when you travel a little inland. I recently discovered three lovely inland villages each of which was different and each worth a return visit and certainly each would make a good place to buy a French property.
This small village on the banks of the River Charente enjoys the most peaceful setting, somehow there is a sense of calm and quiet around despite the lovely beach for children, swimming area and boats to hire. No one shouts, no one rushes, there is a lovely wooden cabin selling delightful fresh salads, fruit drinks and ice cream with tables and chairs set in the shade of the trees.
Here you can watch the fun while remaining a little away from it and once refreshed you can walk along the tow path where you not only enjoy the river but also can see into the gardens of the magnificent manors which were once owned by the shipowners who lived in this little village. I loved this spot for its tranquility, the quality of attractions for tourists and the magnificence of a time gone by.
Spending a day relaxing in Port d’Envaux is near the top of my list of things to do along the River Charente in Charente-Maritime. It certainly would be a good place to buy a property in Charente-Maritime.
Something very different is close-by Crazannes, a small well-kept village with a lovely Château but for me it’s big attraction was La Pierre de Crazannes which is just outside the village.
Here we found the site of an old quarry which was originally exploited in the first century by the Romans who needed the stone to build roads. From then until 1948 the quarry was used for stone for cathedrals and ramparts. When work finished it was decided to leave the quarry in its final state and to let nature take over. This was followed by the idea of allowing the public to wander around this magical place and the site is now open to the public from February to September every year to enjoy the magic and to witness the stone carvings which have now been made in the rocks. It’s hard to give a true feeling of the mystery and awe that you feel as you wander around something that would feel more in place in Peru.
This is probably my most favourite small town along the River Charente and one in which I could really imagine living.
The centre of the village is charming with all the little shops you would need for everyday living and a lovely bar which offers a very good lunch. Heading up the hill to the church, with its stone carvings of the 12 apostles facing the church except for Judas who faces away from it, you get lovely views of rooftops, gardens and the river.
Spreading along the banks of the River Charente in one direction are charming houses with little riverside gardens across the lane. Each house is different and I would happily call any one of them ‘home’ and I couldn’t help but look for property for sale in St. Savinian. Along the riverbanks in the opposite direction are all the little fishing sheds called carrelets. Here, as the river rushes out to sea and then later rushes back in, the owners of the little fishing sheds drop down large nets to catch any unfortunate fish or eel caught in the fast flowing water. As we watched a couple of elderly ladies bringing up their net then sorting out their catch and deciding which of the fish to put on the barbecue which they had lit in readiness I thought ‘surely this is what you call living?’