Le Logis is situated in the middle of Dompierre-sur-Charente, a quiet village situated on the Charente river. We are equidistant (about 20kms) between Saintes and Cognac. During the winter and early spring months the Charente regularly floods the surrounding fields and, on occasion the lower road between Saintes and Cognac is closed due to this. However, we are high enough up not to be affected by the flooding, and Le Logis and our village is easily accessed from the upper, main road (the N141) between Saintes and Cognac.
We believe, having had some experience in different locations in our departement, that the boulangerie in Dompierre is one of the best in the Charente Maritime! It is a leisurely 5 minute stroll from Le Logis – and a marginally more exhilarating uphill stroll back!. Be warned: while waiting to buy your fresh, buttery croissants and pains-au-chocolats, you are extremely likely to be tempted by the scrumptious display of gateaux! The boulangerie is also a small grocery shop where you can buy milk, cheese, butter, wine and other local products, including Pineau-des-Charentes, the local eau-de-vie aperitif which is very more-ish (and particularly good, we have discovered, as a long drink with ice and sparkling mineral water). During the summer months (this varies from sometime in late June to sometime in early September…) the boulangerie is open seven days a week (out of season it is closed on Thursdays).
Also during the summer months, beginning on 1st May, there is a pretty snack bar/restaurant situated next to the boulangerie in Dompierre that’s open for lunch and dinner – the menu is traditional French holiday fare including burgers, salads and steak frites and also serves alcohol – as it is within an easy stroll of Le Logis, we often wander down for an evening meal with the added advantage is not arguing over who has to drive home!
Dompierre boasts the last hand-operated bac–à-chaine (chain ferry) in France. It is operational from 15 June to 15 September, provided the river waters are safe. Should you wish, you can take the ferry (with or without bicycles, or indeed, your car) across the river to Ruffiac, where there is also a snack-bar/restaurant (about 5 minutes walk from the ferry) on a wooden-terrace over the river in the summer months. Tea-dances are very popular here too on Sunday afternoons (!) and we sometimes hear the accordian music wafting across the valley while we laze beside our pool.
The pretty village of Chaniers is five minutes drive from us, and has a bar, pharmacy, post office and cash machines. On Wednesdays there is a small market with fresh fruit and vegetables, and usually a stall with fresh seafood, including the ubiquitous oysters (oysters cultivated on our coast are shipped all over Europe) and mussels. Just outside of Chaniers is the “Moulin-de-la-Baine”, a restaurant housed in a mill spanning one fork of the Charente river – it can be very busy at lunchtimes in the summer when coachloads of tourists arrive for the menu-du-jour (it seats upwards of 200) but it is quieter in the evenings and has a lovely terrace directly over the Charente.
Further afield from Dompierre-sur-Charente in opposite directions are the two larger towns of Saintes and Cognac. Cognac of course is famous for its distilleries and there are a number of guided tours available at the larger Cognac houses. There are also several smaller, family-run distilleries around Dompierre, and we are happy to give you details should you wish to visit any of them. However, as French towns go, we prefer (and all of our friends and family who have visited us over the years concur) Saintes – it has a lovely, pedestrianised centre at the end of which is an architecturally stunning cathedral, as well as many Roman ruins and monuments, including a spectacular Roman amphitheatre in excellent condition. There are daily markets in both Saintes and Cognac with fresh fruit, vegetables and local produce, and of course, given our maritime departement, a wonderful selection of fresh seafood.
The coastal town of Royan, with its marvellous, sweeping promenade and wide beaches, is a 40 minute drive from us. The charming coastal village of St-Georges-de-Didonne with its similarly spectacular bay and wide beaches is next door to Royan, and further up the coast is St-Palais-sur-Mer (another favourite of ours). Be warned, the coastal area can be very busy in July and August, so if you are planning a day out at the seaside, it is best to leave at or around 9a.m. during these months, but the rest of the year it is remarkably accessible and a wonderful way to spend a day by the seaside. The Ile d’Oleron is slightly north of Royan and has stunning, empty beaches most of the year – again, it can become very busy during the months of July and August and it is best to leave early so as not to get caught in traffic (there is only one bridge onto the island). This area, known as the Marennes-Oleron region, is famous for its oysters and mussels, and there are hundreds of restaurants specialising in seafood, some set in amongst the picturesque oyster beds and canals feeding them.
La Rochelle and the Ile-de-Ré are about an hour away by car. La Rochelle is one of the prettiest coastal towns in France, and makes for a wonderful day out. The Ile-de-Ré is accessible from the impressive 3km-long bridge (unfortunately a somewhat eye-watering toll of around €17 in the summer months is payable) and it is well worth visiting – the villages of St.Martin, La Couarde-sur-Mer and Ars-en-Ré are picture-book perfect seaside villages and full of great restaurants, and the island is criss-crossed with cycle-paths (there are many places to hire a bicycle), making for a very pleasant day out for the more energetic among us…!
Angoulème, about 45 mins to the east of us by car, is a stunning, historic, hilltop city set amongst the rolling Charente countryside. On the third Sunday of September each year the Circuit des Remparts is held. The twisting roads around the ancient walls of the city are closed off and a series of races featuring only classic cars is held, while the surrounding squares and pedestrianised streets form a backdrop to a display of beautifully kept, sometimes rare, classic cars from all over the world – a classic car enthusiast’s dream! In February, the city hosts the world-renowned Festival de Bande Dessinée – or Comic Strip Design festival (literal interpretation).
Further afield (about 1.30hrs) is Bordeaux, the St.Emilion region, the Medoc…there is so much to see and do in and around our region, and so many excellent restaurants to visit – we are more than happy to make recommendations or reservations should you wish us to.