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A boating holiday in charente: the easy way to family happiness!

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Family boating holidays on the Charente River

Family holidays on the Charente River ©Sébastien Laval

A destination that appeals to young and old!

Planning the family holiday can be a headache. It can be difficult finding a destination that everyone is going to be happy with. Some members of the family will be interested in the history and culture while others will be looking for fine wining and dining.

The youngest family members will be looking for non-stop fun, space to run around in and somewhere to swim. Teenagers are probably the hardest family member to please so it’s trying to find something that’ll get their buy-in to family time.

So is there a holiday and destination that appeals to all ages? At Nicols we believe so – a self drive boating holiday on the Charente River in France. Let us explain more below...

For fans of comic strips:

: Discover when renting a canal boat in Charente

Discover a world of comics in Angoulême ©Charente Tourisme

Located in the heart of Angoulême is the “international city of comics” attraction. The International Festival of Comics that takes place here in January is equally world famous.

This is a one of a kind place to visit and has the museum of comics, several comic libraries, 2 cinemas and a restaurant.

You will certainly come across familiar characters from your childhood – including Astérix. Don’t forget to check out the shop!


Useful information:
121 Rue de Bordeaux, 16000 Angoulême. Tel : 05 45 38 65 65
For details of times and prices visit the website: www.bdangouleme.com

It is easy to get to Angoulême by canal boat. Simply moor on the banks of the Charente River and walk into the city which is less than 100 metres away.

The painted wall walk!

Boating holidays and discovering comics in charente

The painted wall walk ©Charente Tourisme

Every parent has heard the ‘are we nearly there yet’ plea. You want to get the kids out and about but motivating them to keep going can be tricky.

In connection with the “international city of comics” attraction (see above!), this circuit of painted walls throughout the city is a great way to test your family’s knowledge of comics! The course features about 20 works of art in all sizes.

If walking all sounds a bit boring to your teenagers then why not rent Segways from Mobilboard (you’ll find this about 20 minutes from the tourist office) for a guided tour with a difference. It is certainly a more playful way to explore Angouléme and amongst other things your tour will pass the city ramparts and magnificent town hall.

Become a master chocolatier:

We’ve already written about the wide range of possibilities for discovering the Charente regions famous Cognac and Pineau des Charentes cellars and distilleries. You can read our article about this here.

Whilst this is great for adult members of your crew, in the interests of the smaller people onboard we have found something that they will be equally as excited about. Actually, even you adults will be excited about this!

Family fluvial tourism and chocolate discovery course

Situated on the outskirts of Angouléme, the Letuffe chocolate factory is an artisan chocolate factory specialising in offering chocolate courses. You’ll enjoy the opportunity of being introduced to working with chocolate – in the fragrant and warm atmosphere of the factory – and your first steps to becoming a true master chocolatier!

There are courses for all ages to enjoy and what’s more you’ll get to take your creation (approx 250 grams of chocolate) with you!

Useful information:
These "à la carte" chocolate courses are in groups of six people and involve an hour of working with chocolate, a video demonstration and your efforts to take away with you! Prices are 8.50 € for children aged 5 to 15 and 10.50 € for adults.
For more information and to book visit the website: http://chocolaterie-letuffe.fr/visiter/  


Fluvial holidays and family initiation at chocolate work
Barge tourism and family chocolate discovery

If you don’t fancy the idea of participating in a course in chocolate it is still worth a visit to Letuffe chocolatier. You can enjoy a brief tour and of course there is a boutique chocolate shop to satisfy all your chocolate cravings!  

Travel back to prehistoric times:

Boat rental in charente and visit paleosite

Fire workshop ©PALEOSITE

This trip back to the ages is worth the slight detour! Moor your canal boat at the port of Chaniers and then either cycle (hire bikes for onboard!) or take a taxi for 7km to the small town of St-Césaire on the edge of the Charente. It is here you’ll find the interesting place of PALEOSITE…

It was at this location in 1979 that the bones of ‘Pierrette’, a Neanderthal woman over 36,000 years old, were discovered. This discovery completely changed current scientific thinking of prehistoric man.

The Paléosite at St-Césaire takes visitors on a journey back thousands of years using indoor and outdoor displays and experiences including a fire workshop and archaeological excavation that the children can help with.

Useful information: For more information visit the website:www.paleosite.fr

Donkey riding:

Charente boating holiday and donkey ride

Donkey ride ©charente tourisme

If you’re looking for additional child-friendly activities whilst on your boating holiday then another great option to tie in with while you’re in the St- Césaire area is donkey riding at "Les Ânes de la Rêverie".

It’s a novel way to enjoy the calm and closeness to nature – and in complete freedom as it’s just you and the donkey! You’ll be given advice and instructions then help with the preparation of the donkey. The donkey will love the brushing and grooming just as much as the children. All that is left is to choose your route.

There are several routes on offer ranging from a walk of a couple of hours through to a full day with a picnic. If you are part of a larger group it is also possible to hire several donkeys.

Useful information:
 For more information visit the website:www.lesanesdelareverie.com

An insight into roman times:

canal boat rental in Saintes

Roman amphitheatre ©OT Saintes

Another great history lesson is a trip to Saintes which has a number of Gallo-Roman vestiges scattered throughout the city. You’ll find the remains of an ancient civilisation left from Roman armies during the middle of the first century – before the Christian era.

A mix of an amphitheatre, aqueducts and ramparts – the city has a total of six different ancient works – all of which are free to visit (apart from the amphitheatre*). They are all within walking distance of each other meaning you can create your very own family Gallo-Roman tour!

Useful information:
 For more information visit the website:www.saintes-tourisme.fr
*3€ per person, under 18s free. Rental of an audio-guide is 2€

Holiday on the water…holiday in the water!

boating holiday and swimming in charente

Swimming at a supervised beach ©S. Laval

A boating holiday isn’t complete without some great swimming options!

Whether it’s a dip in the river, a paddle on one of the supervised beaches or a swim at one of the swimming pools in a town there are numerous places that both the young and old can enjoy the water.

To find out more about the best swimming locations have a read of our nature holidays in the Charente article.

Parks and playgrounds

Boating holiday with games for children

Children’s playground at the water’s edge

A boating holiday by nature is a pretty active holiday. In the Charente in particular, where the locks are manual, the children and teenagers in the crew will enjoy helping in the passing through locks and the mooring up of your Nicols boat. If that’s not enough to tire them out then there are a number of recreational areas that you can visit – our particular recommendations being the following:

  • The leisure park of Frégeneuil in Angoulême: this park is located close to the city centre and on the banks of the Charente River. It is an exceptional green space (with plenty of shady areas) for relaxing and enjoying a picnic or playing sports and games. If you fancy a meal out there is a restaurant (with free Wifi) and a playground and riding school for younger children. A great day out in an immaculately maintained park. For more information please visit: www.parcdefregeneuil.fr
  • Le Bain des Dames in Châteauneuf sur Charente: in addition to a sandy beach with a supervised swimming area the site also offers a picnic area, bar/restaurant, fitness trail, sports area with boules pitch, volleyball court, ping-pong table and fishing opportunities.

As you can see by these great ideas, there is no doubt that a self-drive boating holiday in the Charente has something for the whole family.

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