• The Charente River

  • The Charente River
  • The Charente River

The destiny of Saintes is linked from its Roman origins to a crossroads vocation associated with the crossing of the Charente river. The one that the Romans called "Carantonus", travels 381 km to go into the Atlantic Ocean, Port des Barques (17) but to return to the sources of the Charente, it is necessary to go to Chéronnac, in Haute-Vienne. As the crow flies, Chéronnac and Port des Barques are only 160 km away but our beautiful Charente lingers and lapses in many meanders. Its sinuous course is such a lifeline where the political, economic or cultural history of the cities it crosses, among them Civray (Vienne), Angoulême, Cognac, Saintes or Rochefort. Until the advent of the railway, at the end of the 19th century, it was a vital commercial artery between the sea and the inland, then lined with barges and boats laden with salt, pottery, stone or eaux-de-vie. The activity related to skippers, which we perceive on old postcards, has now disappeared and contrasts with the calm of the banks of the river today. A tranquility recently appreciated by the painters Gustave Courbet or Auguste Pradelle, replaced today by fishermen. In summer, swimming enthusiasts can quench their thirst for freshness, in the healthy shade of ash trees and willows, in Chaniers and Port d'Envaux, where "beaches in fresh water" are arranged. Boaters, from Angoulême, to the rhythm of the passages of locks, can take advantage of the 170 km of waterway that the Charente offers them. Upstream of Saintes and at the end of its course, its quiet course devoid of slope that runs between large floodplains, is then conducive to recreation. To anchor, many cities or villages of white stone await them. Around Saintes, Chaniers - Port of Envaux - Crazannes - Taillebourg - Saint-Savinien. The Charente, however, would be nothing without its many feeder tributaries, such as the Seugne, the Koran or Arnoult, which irrigate the lands of Saintonge and also deserve to linger on their banks.


Town location In centre of town

Opening time

All year round.

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