If you’re looking for a bit of spring bank culture in South West France, consider La Charente Maritime and the Cognac region. There’s always plenty of opportunity to absorb the rich history of the regions wine, food and cognac brandy at the many ancient chateaus, vineyards, markets and official tours around distilleries and ancient cellars.

Spring bank is such a lovely time to visit, as the weather is warming up nicely but the summer crowds have not yet descended.

Things to look out for if you’re over during May and June….

Night at the museum

All museums throughout France will open for a night, free of charge, as part of European Museum Night. The event takes place on the closest Saturday to the 18th of May, joined by all countries that have signed the Council of Europe’s cultural convention.

Over 1,200 French museums take part in European Museum Night, and 98% of them open free to the between 6 pm and midnight, offering special activities for everyone; storytelling tours, torch-lit tales of mystery, concerts, workshops for children, screenings, fireworks. It really is a unique experience.

Stepping back in time

Visiting La Charente Maritime and the Cognac region

The Gallo-Roman baths at Chassenon

There are so many historical heritage sites to visit throughout Charente, but for visitors with an interest in archeology, a site not to be missed is The Gallo-Roman baths at Chassenon. On an ancient crossroads of huge strategic value stands the impressive remains of the largest Roman baths in Europe outside of Rome!

These massive baths were only found in 1958 and have been extensively excavated. Perched on top of a hill with a ‘view to die for’, it’s no surprise the Romans chose this spot for the baths, considered a therapeutic, political and influential form of socialising. It’s breathtaking to say the least and a fascinating insight into their once mighty empire.

Music lovers

For music lovers of all genres, early summer offers a treat in the form of World Music Day, created in 1982 by the Ministry of Culture and Communication to celebrate amateur musicians.

This event is an unmissable date for anyone visiting France in June, who wants to immerse themselves in rhythm for 24 hours. Enjoy an array of different types and styles of music, played out in the beautiful streets of Cognac, a region wholeheartedly joining the party.

This diverse festival combines all styles, audiences and countries. Artists of all ages gather all over France to dance, sing and collaborate, discovering new artists who perform free of charge, every year on the 21st of June.

Gardens to celebrate

A restored farmhouse in France retains its earthy, centuries-old charm.

A restored farmhouse in France retains its earthy, centuries-old charm.

If you’re in the region for spring bank, it’s also worth looking up local details for, ‘Rendez-vous aux Jardins’ another wonderful event, designed by the ministry of culture and communication with the aim of emphasising the importance of green space in France.

Every year in the first weekend of June, 2,000 public and private gardens are opened to the public.

Each new edition focuses on a theme relating to knowledge, protection, conservation and gardening. In past years, themes like “the child in the garden”, “the stroll”, or “colours” have wowed visitors and inspired a generation of budding gardeners and nature enthusiasts.

Around 2 million visitors enjoy approximately 1,300 guided tours, as well as 215 exhibitions. Participatory volunteers offer a variety of activities: conferences, readings, gardening workshops for adults and children, gardening skill demonstrations etc etc

The cognac region joins the event, giving visitors a special insight into France’s beautiful green environments from a different perspective, offering access to areas that wouldn’t normally be open.

And whilst Charente is clearly already spoiled with stunning landscapes, there’s always more unusual natural areas to discover during this event.

Contact us

For more details on any of these places and events or for further information about other things to see and do in and around the cognac and Charente region, please contact Sharon or Chris via our Contact Us page or emailing us directly on gites@lesvieillesombres.co.uk

For Bookings and Enquiries, Please Contact Les Vieilles Ombres
Telephone: 05 46 32 52 60