Guest Comments

Ian & Ena:

"This area of France was previously unknown to us and it has certainly made a good impression"

Chris & Michelle:

"A beautiful part of France"

Miriam & Peter:

"A lot to discover, especially Cognac and its history"

Bernadette & Darell:

"We enjoyed it so much we have bought a place of our own here"

Barbara & Peter:

"So many places of interest"

Richard & Wendy:

"So many lovely places to discover"

Bob & Bridget:

"Oradour-sur-Glane - a very moving experience"

"The sound & smell of a traditional French evening market which made this so special for us"

Pat & Mo:

"We liked it so much, this is our second visit this year. Good walks and wildlife"

Alda & Euginé

"We visited many beautiful places and villages"

The beautiful French countryside surrounding the naturist holiday cottages at Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France

Things to See and Do While on a Naturist Holiday at Charente Soleil

Charente Soleil is located in the Poitou Charente region. Its mild climate - 2,250 hours of sunshine per year - makes it ideal for a naturist holiday. It is the perfect base for working on your all-over tan by the pool but there is also lots to see and do if you can tear yourself away.

This is the real France with vast forests of oak and chestnut, fields of sunflowers and vineyards, rivers bordered by mediaeval towns and villages and a relaxed pace of life. It is not a major tourist area but a little research reveals more than enough to occupy everyone. You can discover some of the things to do below.

  • Nature & Wildlife

  • Towns & Villages

  • Historical Sites

  • Culture

  • Food & Drink

  • Activities

  • Families

  • More Information

Pyramid orchid at Charente Soleil naturist holiday resortSwallowtail butterfly at Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort

Nature and naturism go together well. Our area is on a limestone plateau with wooded river valleys and a diverse range of habitats. Much can be observed in our grounds including the Pyramid Orchid and Scarce Swallowtail butterfly pictured here.

 

The Forêt de la Braconne is a huge oak and chestnut forest that is right on our doorstep. You can walk or cycle on miles of farm and forest trails and if you are quiet, observe wildlife in abundance - Wild boar, deer, red squirrels, buzzards, golden orioles, hoopoe etc. Some of the limestone caves in the forest are home to rare species of bat.

Hoopoo at Charente Soleil naturist holiday resortBirds

We find the bird life here to be fascinating. The Charente valley is a part of one of the great european north-south migration routes and there is something to see throughout the year. The cries from the great V-shaped flocks of Cranes heading north herald the arrival of spring in early March. They are soon followed by the cuckoos and hoopoes (right). Swallows begin to arrive in early April and by May the surrounding woodland is full of nightingales that sing day and night.

We are not experts but here is a list of some of the birds that we have seen or heard in our gardens. We are sure that someone with more knowledge could identify many more without moving from their sun bed!

Grey Heron White Stork Black Kite Red Kite Montague's Harrier
Hen Harrier Sparrowhawk Buzzard Kestrel Partridge
Quail Crane Stone-curlew Lapwing Wood pigeon
Collared Dove Turtle Dove Cuckoo Barn Owl Tawny Owl
Scops Owl Long-eared Owl Swift Bee-eater Hoopoe
Green Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker Sky Lark Wood Lark Sand Martin
Swallow House Martin White Wagtail Wren Dunnock
Robin Nightingale Common Redstart Black Redstart Stonechat
Blackbird Song Thrush Melodious Warbler Garden Warbler Blackcap
Chiffchaff Firecrest Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Coal Tit
Blue Tit Great Tit Nuthatch Short-toed Tree creeper Long-tailed Tit
Golden Oriole Jay Magpie Crow Starling
House Sparrow Rock Sparrow Chaffinch Serin Greenfinch
Goldfinch Linnet Siskin Cirl Bunting Nightjar
Linnet Pheasant      

If you venture into the surrounding countryside then you may also see:

Cattle Egret Booted Eagle Hobby Little Bustard Little Owl
Black Woodpecker Grey Wagtail Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Mallard Moorhen
Kingfisher Red Backed Shrike Corn bunting Marsh Tit Tree Pipit
Yellowhammer Reed Warbler Cetti's Warbler Crested Lark Reed Bunting
Gold Crest Hawfinch Bull Finch Coal Tit Bonneli's Warbler
Short-toed Eagle Honey Buzzard Goshawk Whitethroat Wheatear

and probably many more.

Much more information (in French) can be found on the Charente Nature web site.

Verteuil close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centreThere are far too many notable places to list here. Virtually every town and village has a XIIth century church, chateau or something else of interest.

Weekly markets are often small but the monthly fairs are much larger. The biggest of them all is in Rouillac on the 27th of each month where you can buy anything from a horse to a grandfather clock! Villebois market hall close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre

Almost every village has its annual Vide Grenier and on summer weekends there are usually 2 or 3 in the area. It literally translates as "empty your attic" and is the French equivalent of a car boot sale. They can be a real window on French rural life and there is always the chance of picking up something interesting or unusual. These are sometimes linked with a fete or other event so there is usually refreshments available, if not a full blown meal.

 

Angouleme painted wall close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centreAngouleme cathedral close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre

Angoulême

Capital of the Charente, situated on a promontory overlooking the river and surrounded by ramparts. The old town is at the top of the hill and has a attractive pedestrianised area with shops and restaurants. The cathedral is well worth a visit as is the recently renovated museum.

Walking tours include a circuit of the ramparts overlooking the Charente valley and also of the "Painted Walls" which are created by students at the internationally renowned school of graphic arts.

 

Aubeterre church close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre

Aubeterre

Listed as one of France's most beautiful villages and built on an escarpment overlooking the river Dronne. It is situated on a pilgrim route to Compostelle in Spain and is remarkable for its troglodyte (underground) church which is the largest in Europe.

Tusson mediaeval garden close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre Gardens

Many of the local villages enter the national "Villages Fleuris" (literally "Flowery Villages") competition and are a picture throughout the summer. There are also interesting gardens open to the public including the fuchsia garden at Mansle and the mediaeval monastic herb garden at Tusson.

 

 

History has certainly left its mark on the Charente. From pre-historical times until the 20th century, the armies of Europe have passed this way. Roman amphitheatres, templar chapels, mediaeval chateau and World War II sites are all here. These are just a few of the more notable ones:

Cassinomagus

A huge roman site discovered in the 1980s and now being developed as an archaeological park. Includes one of the largest and best preserved roman baths in Europe, 3 temples, a theatre and other remains.

 

La Rochefoucauld chateau nearby Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in FranceCassiomagus roman baths nearby Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in France

 

La Rochefoucauld Chateau

Open to the public but privately owned by one of the most important families in French history whose ancestral tree includes Mary Queen of Scots and several other British monarchs.

 

 

Oradour sur Glane nearby Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in France

Oradour sur Glane

WWII martyr village of the French resistance preserved exactly as it was on the day when 636 villagers were massacred as a reprisal. An award winning visitor centre explains everything in several languages.

 

Resistance memorial nearby Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in France

 

National cemetery and memorial to the French resistance

The area was a focus of resistance during the second world war and the burial place of many of the partisans is in the nearby town of Chasseneuil -sur- Bonnieure. There is also a small museum.

 

Local festival close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France

Festivals

Angoulême is known as the "City of Festivals". There are both major international and more local events throughout the region during most months of the year. The diversity is enormous with everything from vintage car races to world music and dance. There is bound to be something to suit whatever your tastes. Here are a few of the larger ones. Clicking on the headings will take you to the relevant web sites if you want more information.

Bande dessinée close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceFestival International de la Bande Dessinée - Angoulême

Annual international festival of comics. Angoulême is the international capital of comic books, strip cartoons and related arts. The festival includes shows, exhibitions, competitions and many other events and attracts around 250,000 visitors each year.

Usually the last weekend in January

Muisc Metisses close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France Musiques Métisses - Angoulême

Salsa, reggae, rumba ... 3 days of latin american, caribbean and african music concerts.

Usually mid-May

 

 

Blues Passions close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceBlues Passions - Cognac

5 days and 5 nights of blues music. This annual event attracts major international artists including many from the USA, the home of the blues.

End of July

Confolens world music and dance close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceWorld Music and Dance - Confolens

The largest annual festival of popular arts and traditions from around the world.

Mid August

Street arts festival close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France	Coupe de Chauffe - Cognac

Free 2 day festival of street entertainment - International artists from the circus, theatre, dance, music ...

Early September

Circuit des remparts close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceLe Circuit des Remparts - Angoulême

Vintage racing cars do battle around the historic city ramparts. A full weekend of parades, exhibitions and races.

Mid September

 

CognacIn Poitou-Charente, eating is always a feast with fish from the sea, shellfish such as the renowned Marennes-Oléron oysters and also freshwater-fish: eel, trout and pike. Other mouth-watering local recipes make the most of prime meat and wild fowl and there are fine butters and cheeses. Also popular are Cognac, the Pineau des Charentes (an aperitif of grape juice and Cognac), and the light fruity wines from Haut-Poitou, Deux-Sèvres and Charente.

 

Restaurants

There are of course many to suit all budgets and tastes. Here are 3 of our favourites:

  • Beau rivage restaurant terrace close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in FranceL'Auberge du Cheval Blanc - Luxé. Traditional French cuisine. Very good value menus at lunch time and perfect for a special occasion in the evening
  • La Grange aux Oies - Neuil. Traditional French cuisine Lovely setting in the grounds of a former chateau which is now an up-market hotel. Unusual for this standard of restaurant in that the fixed price menu includes aperitifs, wine and coffee
  • Hotel Restaurant Beau-Rivage - Mansle. Traditional French cuisine. Elevated terrace with superb view overlooking the river Charente if the weather is suitable

Cognac and Pineau

Pineau des Charentes close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in FranceThe most celebrated "eau de vie" in the world. Lesser known is "Pineau des Charentes" - An aperitif made by blending Cognac and grape juice which is then allowed to mature in oak barrels. It is a firm favourite with the locals and although on the sweet side, it is absolutely delicious when served chilled.

Cognac is a short drive from here. All of the big names are there and offer professional guided tours and tastings in several languages. If your French is up to it, there are also many smaller producers in the area who may give you a tour conducted by the proprietor.

Wine

Vines close to Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in FranceNot much wine is produced in this region because most of the grapes go to make Cognac or Pineau. However, there are one or two producers and our local one is the Cave de Saint Sornin.

You can take a tour of the winery on Wednesday and Friday mornings and their shop is open every day except Sunday. You can buy "Vin de Table" from the pump if you take a suitable container or, for a little bit more, some very acceptable reds, whites and rosés by the bottle or case.

For more expensive wine, the vineyards of Saint Emilion and Bordeaux are within easy reach.

 

Many do not stray far from our pool but if you feel the need then there are plenty of activities for all the family.

Walker in the forest near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceGyrocopter near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France

Walking

There are way marked walks throughout the area and miles of forest and farm tracks for those content to navigate for themselves.

Gyrocopter

An auto gyro flying school operates about 2km from here. They will take you up for a short leisure flight and give you a view of the area from an entirely different perspective.

 

 

Conoeing on the Charente river near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceCanoeing

There are several canoe "stations" along the river Charente, the closest being in Mansle. You can rent by the hour, half or full day. The river is slow moving during the summer and the proprietors will drive you the appropriate distance upstream and then leave you to paddle your way back through woods, past riverside villages and chateaux - Another different and seldom seen perspective of the French countryside.

 

Horse racing in Mansle near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceHorse Racing

Mansle has a horse racing course, as do several other small towns in the area. Meetings are held regularly throughout the summer, often on a Sunday. The usual format is "trotting" but there are also "normal" races as well.

Race day usually involves children entertainment and the inevitable meal so there is a friendly family atmosphere.

 

Cycle route near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceCycling

France's national sport. This is perfect cycling country with quiet well made roads, not too many hills and miles of farm and forest tracks. There are several way marked cycle routes in the area including 3 suitable for different abilities that start in our local village.

 

 

Velorail near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceVelo-rail

Velo-rail is an original use for a disused railway and yet another way to see the countryside. Imagine a pair of cycles bolted to a buggy and the whole thing mounted on rails. You get exercise and a tour through the Charente landscape.

 

Lacs de Haute Charente near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceLacs de Haute Charente

Two large man-made reservoirs where an out door pursuits centre has been established. It provides water sports of all descriptions as well as many other activities.

 

 

 

Many of the items in other categories are of course ideally suited to families. However, the ones below are especially appropriate for younger generations.

Vallée des Singes near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday resort in France

La Vallée des Singes (Monkey Valley)

Some of our repeat guests return to this attraction year after year. 350 monkeys living free on more than 30 acres. You can walk freely amongst some of them whilst the larger species are on islands.

Futuroscope near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France

Futuroscope

Theme park close to Poitiers with futuristic architecture, audiovisual presentations using the latest computer animations, video games and much more besides including a nightly firework spectacular.

Isle aux Serpents near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in France

L'Ile aux Serpents

Another wildlife park but this time it's snakes, lizards and crocodiles.

 

 

 

St Germain de Confolens near to Charente Soleil naturist holiday centre in FranceThere is much more information available from our local tourist offices. The following links will take you to their web sites:

Charente tourist site - Main site for the major events and attractions in the region.

Mansle tourist office - For events in the immediate area.

La Rochefoucauld tourist office - Good for the Bandiat - Tardoire area just to the east of here.