What’s happening in The Charentes in 2020?

17 December 2019

Photo credit of Oléron:  OT Ile d'Oléron Bassin de Marennes

Serious cycling in The Charentes– The world’s most iconic cycle race, the Tour de France, will be winding its way through the Charentes in July 2020 as the spotlight falls onto the Atlantic Coast and Cognac Country next year. Monday 6th July will be a rest day before Stage 10 of the race kicks off on 7th July with an 170 km route from Oléron to Ré islands. Stage 11 of the race will be a 167 km route from Châtelaillon-Plage to the historic city of Poitiers.

For local enthusiasts, there will be a pre-tour two-day celebration in June with a variety of events planned. They will be able to follow the route from one island to another, crossing four bridges and 43 villages and cities en route!
Photo credit: Mural - Max Cabannes by Sébastien Laval

The Charentes increases the number of UNESCO sites within its borders– Angoulême – often referred to as the comic capital of  the world – is joining an exclusive club of UNESCO Creative Cities. The only one in France in the “literature” category, it joins the ranks of five fellow French cities – Enghien-les-Bains, Limoges, Lyon, Metz and St Etienne as a Ville Creative.

Angoulême has a long and proud history of paper making and this media association as “the capital of the comic strip” is celebrated in its Comics Museum which features an incredible history of French, Belgian and American comics. This background is celebrated on a number of city commissioned murals which feature prominently on both private and public buildings around the city itself – a charming walk through an “open-air” gallery in fact.

Angoulême will carry on developing the Ninth Art (La Bande Dessinée is lauded in France as the Ninth Art – a legitimate art form which has been in use since the 1960’s) – with its partners “The Festival International de la Bande Dessinée” (one of the biggest in the world – 30th January – 2nd February 2020) and the “Cite Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’image“.
Photo credit: Dominique Abit, SMIDDEST
Hopefully to be recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site too next summer is the magnificent Phare de Cordouan,the oldest lighthouse in France. If confirmed, this will be the sixth site in the Charentes to be classified. Facebook/PhareDeCordouan.
The Phare de Cordouan protects the hazardous and turbulent waters of the Gironde Estauary where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The first building was actually commissioned by an English King – Edward, the Black Prince – around 1360 and has been rebuilt several times. The current incarnation was designed by Louis de Foix and enhanced by engineer Joseph Teulère, the architect of the city of Bordeaux, in 1786.
The last remaining offshore lighthouse in the world, still maintained by four lighthouse keepers and that is open to the public, the Phare de Cordouan can be visited between April and 1st November.
Photo credit: Aurelie Stapf,
Cognac Savoir-Faire– One of the few places in the world to bear both the name of an area and a product is, of course, Cognac. The area’s vignerons hope to classify Cognac’s know-how as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. The application speaks to the continuity of a specific wine-growing tradition and the collective pool of knowledge that offers.  Only brandy developed in Cognac can carry the name – as the rather apt saying goes “All Cognacs are brandies but not all brandies are cognac”. Facebook/lesavoirfaireducognac.
Photo credit: Club Med La Palmyre
The only four Tridents Club Med resort in France – The new-look Club Med La Palmyre– a new premium family resort – near the chic vintage seaside resort of Royan – will reopen in June 2020 after a 10 month, €28 million restoration making it the only four trident Club Med in France as well as the only one on the Atlantic Coast.
Photo credit: Club Med La Palmyre
A marine-inspired design lends a contemporary feel to the resort which is situated at the heart of nature, close to the surrounding La Coubre pine forest on the one side and the salt air of the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The rooms are divided into four separate spaces – the Marina area by the beach, the Dunes area for couples next to a quiet pool, the Forest area for families and for golfers of course, the Golf lodges area.  This all-inclusive offers a wide range of beach activities including a Beach Boot Camp, a golf course, a “Zen” pool and spa, a Baby Club Med and Petit Club Med for children from the age of four months and the Gourmet Lounge for fabulous gastronomic fare. There’s also a large conference centre with seating for 400 people. For guests wishing to explore the area, the resort offers custom “à la carte” tours of the surrounding area.
Photo credit: Cafe Courvoisier

A new way to discover Cognac– Following their classic tour or included within their new Premium tour “Brunch at the Chateau”, enjoy a new tasting experience as Courvoisier  teams up with Culture Cafés, their local coffee maestros, to pair their VSOP and XO cognacs with coffee and chocolates with their Café Courvoisier experience. The VSOP is paired with a blend of moka from Ethiopia with a hint of Colombia whilst a rich Catuai Bourbon from Salvador is paired with XO. It’s guaranteed to be an aromatic experience like no other!

Classic Tour with Café Courvoisier Experience: €22
Premium Tour “Brunch at the Château”: €150

Photo credit: Remy Martin - C Charbeau

Create your own Rémy Martin cocktail– At the historic Rémy Martin château in the centre of Cognac, a new tasting workshop has been designed around the creation of cognac cocktails. Shake, rattle and roll your way with a combination of fruit, cognac and spices to create a long and a short cocktail under the expert tuition of a Rémy Martin expert. The experience starts with a visit of the historic house and its cellars with a tasting of the Rémy Martin cognacs. It continues with an introduction to the art of the cocktail, hands on cocktail creation and a cocktail tasting accompanied by gourmet snacks.

This two hour experience is available year round on application and is available for groups of two people or more at €110 per person. Reservations required.

There’s something for everyone on the Atlantic Coast Cognac Country – There are a myriad of festivals of music or cinema, major sporting events such as the Tour de France, exhibitions dedicated to the art of the cartoon or the Ninth Art (2020 Year of the Comics) – in fact, there are over 3,000 eventsyear long.  So there’s always an excuse to visit … as if one was needed.

Notes to editors: Situated at the heart of the French Atlantic coast, the Charentes destination is the premier tourist destination in France for French travellers. Charentes offers the visitor a lovely choice of coastal destinations such as Royan or the Ile de Ré, city breaks to Angoulême or La Rochelle and beautiful countryside such as the Marais Poitevin or Cognac Country.  Charentes has several important wellness centres (six) and a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.  It is a gastronomic destination of note – oysters, mussels, sea salt, cognac, pineau des Charentes; and is easily accessible by road, rail or air from the UK. It boasts a temperate climate softened by the closeness of the ocean, with a quality of light that is beyond compare, as well as a whole host of events taking place throughout the year. 

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