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The city of Angoulême – noted for its art and history – is perched high on a rocky outcrop in Charente.
Its rich history attracts many tourists. Angoulême used to be the capital of Angoumois under the Ancien Régime. The city was subjected to may sieges
Its 42,000 residents, called Angoumoisins, live on what they nickname the balcony of the south west. It is a heavily industrialised area, with principle industries of paper production and electromagnetics.
Angoulême sits within Grand Angoulême, which has more than 140,000 residents, meaning life here is vibrant – stuffed to the gills with culture and activities.
There is a university here, and the area is famed for its International Comic Strip Festival and the Francophone Film Festival. There are 20 walls of cartoon murals painted by a variety of artists here, as a permanent reminder of the annual comic strip bonanza.
Angoulême is in the centre of the Charente department. Its large area sits 100-133 metres above sea level on the Charente river and features acres of caves carved out of the limestone, to form several floors of cellars, some of which have ancient grain silos.
The old part of the city, featuring winding streets and small squares, is built on the plateau, a rocky outcrop created by the Anguienne and Charente valleys, and at the edge of Angoulême there is a sheer drop of 80 metres.
Here there is a castle, the town hall, a cathedral and centuries-old grand homes.
Away from this historic grandeur there is a fabulous underground shopping mall in the Champ de Mars, the city’s central square.
Much housing is planned here as part of the Government’s Urban Renewal Operation in the districts of Grande Garenne, Basseau and Ma Campagne.
There has been a large settlement in Angoulême since the first century. But the area really came to prominence in the late Middle Ages when the city walls and St Pierre Cathedral were built – you can see its spire from miles around.
The city was at the centre of battles between the French and English in the 14th century and in the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century.
Scores of papermaking mills sprang up in the 18th and 19th centuries, which made the area rich. Not much is left of these but there are breathtakingly beautiful medieval-style buildings and mansions dotted about that tell of the wealth brought here by that industry.
All over the area there are historic structures, telling the tale of a city that has grown and adapted over the centuries.
Stroll through Les Halles, the covered market, and you will see superb 19th century metal work if you look up from the stalls selling a wide array of produce.
You can walk along the town walls and see the Charente valley stretching out before you – do walk the stretch between Rempart du Midi and Place Beaulieu for a simply jaw-dropping view.
Visit the 14th century Cordelier’s Chapel to see the tomb of celebrated writer Jean-Louis-Guez de Balzac.
There are lots of museums here.
If you like your recent history pop over to the Musée de la bande dessinée – a comic strip museum renowned around the world.
The Musée D’Angoulême has fairly recently been upgraded and features three floors plus the crypt, ofi archaeology, artefacts from the Maghreb, Africa and Oceania, French paintings and sculptures from the last 600 years.
The city’s paper-making past is documented at Le Nil Paper Museum and the Musee de la Resistance et de la Deportation tells the story of the French resistance during the Second World War.
For more recent history, and a bit of excitement you can see ‘Monaco without the sea’ in September, when vintage cars teem in to the old town to compete in Circuit des Remparts.
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All life is here – there’s something for everyone in this bustling city, which is crammed with culture.
You could live here and be in Tours or Bordeaux quickly, thanks to a new high-speed train line.
There are many schools, medical facilities and sporting venues, yet you can be in stunning countryside in minutes.
Take a look at homes for sale in Angoulême.
Angoulême is served by the Angoulême-Cognac international airport in Brie-Champniers, about six miles north of Angoulême.
Despite Charente being the fourth largest department in France for British expats there are currently no direct flights here from the UK.
The road network is good, with the eastern ring road and a western bypass.
Angoulême has a large theatre, an exhibition and convention centre, which hosts events and concerts, a concert hall, lots of museums and sports clubs. It hosts several internationally important festivals.
There are many schools for all ages here, including a university. However there is not an International School.
Fléac is a residential area a couple of miles west of Angoulême, which overlooks the valley
Its residents – called Fléacois – enjoy stunning views of the area around it and there is peace here, after a relief road was recently built around the community.
Fléac is built on a slope, on the limestone of the Aquitaine Basin. The village is about 65 metres above sea level and overlooks the Charente.
There have been settlers here since the Bronze and Iron Ages and many discoveries have been made here. Including flints, tools, axes, arrowheads as well as numerous ceramics and the remains of Roman roads. The old path from Angoulême to Saintes, Chemin des Anglais, crosses the town, as does the old Roman road to Saint-Cybardeaux, north of Brénat.
The town has several workshops: a printing press, the modern paper mills of Angoulême, Cartex cardboard boxes, the MCCC framework workshop, a carpentry, Ecets aeronautical calculator and vibrometer workshops and Santerne electrical installations, as well as Giraud transport.
Linars is a lovely little village in the southwest of France, in the Charente department (New Aquitaine region). It is west of Angoulême and residents are called the Linarsais.
It is a picturesque village to be explored on foot or by bike, and it has a two-flower rating in in the towns and villages in bloom competition.
Linars’ town hall is in the hamlet Chez Siret, on the bank of the Nouère and the Charente, and there are many other hamlets, including Libourdeau, Jarousson, Cheneuzac, the Touche, the Boisdons and the Grange.
Hemp is grown and harvested here, thanks to the humid climate of the valley.
The remains of an ancient Roman villa were discovered at the Bétonnières in the south of the village in the 19th century. Columns and gold coins have been unearthed and several burials were found near the church in 1860.
Linars is a small, quiet town with just over 2,000 residents. Its main industry is agriculture and it is in the designated area for producing cognac.
You can sometimes buy cognac and Pineau des Charentes directly from the producers here, and there are two garages and a shopping centre, a hypermarket, a pharmacy, two hairdressers, a beauty salon, a pizzeria, wine cellar, bakery and a florist.
The François-Lassagne school caters for nursery and primary age children and there is another nursery school and separate elementary school.
There is a sports complex and a multi-use games area, plus indoor tennis courts, and many clubs use the facilities, including football, tennis and martial arts clubs. There are also music, dance and arts clubs on offer.
The Julien-Gimenez multipurpose complex also hosts all kinds of large-scale events, including concerts, seminars and theatre productions.
The parish church of Saint-Pierre is Romanesque and dates from the 12th century. It has been classified as a historical monument since 1913.
Puymoyen is a commune in the South-West of France, near Angoulême.
Its houses are scattered among oak trees and its residents are called the Puymoyenais.
There are quarries here – many which have been converted into mushroom beds or abandoned.
Most of the town is on a plateau with an average altitude of 130 metres, flanked by the valley of Eaux Claires to the south and the valley of Clairgon to the west.
The Eaux Claires valley is bordered by cliffs well known for climbing.
Les Eaux Claires, a stream flowing into the Charente at Saint-Michel-d’Entraigues downstream from Angoulême, crosses the town.
The name Puymoyen comes from the Latin ‘podium medianum’, meaning ‘the top of the middle’, due to it sitting on top of two valleys.
Neanderthal remains have been found here, indicating settlements have been here for thousands of years.
Historically the town has made its money producing paper.
The Devil’s Castle was built at the very beginning of the 16th century and was then owned by Pierre de Montjean, Lord of Petit Rochefort. There was an older castle here, which was occupied and then destroyed during the Hundred Years War by the English. The English were then nicknamed the Red Devils, which gave it its name.
The building enjoys a gorgeous view of the valley and you can clearly see the castle from all around, its white facade gleaming among the holm oaks.
At the start of the twentieth century, the town was still very rural. A disease had destroyed many vines and locals had turned their agricultural skills instead to dairy farming.
In the mid-19th century, a boulder collapsed in the Eaux Claires valley, and enough material came down to build the school and the town hall.
In the 19th century, an agricultural school for young delinquents was founded by Father Blancheton, but it was abandoned at the beginning of the following century.
The town has nearly 2,500 residents, who have access to a local nursery school and an elementary school. College education is available in nearby Angoulême.
There are many clubs and societies here, including badminton, basketball, running, cycling, ballroom dancing, football, pétanque, tennis, table tennis and volleyball.
The headquarters of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Football League is also here.
North of Angoulême live the Gonpontolviens of Gond-Pontouvre.
They enjoy easy access to the Bordeaux-Paris bypass and
The town is made up of two ancient villages – Le Gond, at the confluence of the Touvre and Charente, on the road to Vars, and Le Pontouvre, further upstream from the Touvre, at the bridge over the road to Paris.
The town includes many neighbourhoods, including Pisany, Rochine, and Le Terrier, the Petit Vouillac, the Bourguets, and Roffit. In Pontouvre, there are the Basse Ville, the Garenne and Bourlion.
An industrial zone borders the town and there is a new district, Le Treuil, on the right bank of the Touvre. Further north, the hamlet of Chalonne is on the banks of the Charente.
The origin of the name Le Gond goes back to a Germanic female name Algundis and the origin of Pontouvre is quite simply a contraction of the ‘bridge over the Touvre’.
Prehistoric remains of an elephant were found in the 19th century. Near Roffit, in the village of Blanchards, in a sand pit, graves were found with pottery.
In the Middle Ages, there were mills on the Touvre and in the 19th and 20th centuries, in addition to the existing flour mills, industries were established in the town, such as lime kilns in Fontenelles near Pontouvre, the felt factory in Gond.
The town has more than 6,000 residents, who benefit from a public secondary school, three public elementary schools and three nursery schools.
The town offers a table tennis club, a pétanque club and numerous other activities.
Saint-Yrieix-sur-Charente is north-west of Angoulême and its 7,000 residents are called the Arédiens and the Arédiennes1.
The old road from Angoulême to La Rochelle, D 939 going towards Rouillac and Saint-Jean-d’Angély crosses the town over its entire length and the town is crossed by the national road 10 from Paris to Spain. The town is also crossed by the D 57 and the D 103, which connect the Gond-Pontouvre to Fléac and acts as a secondary western ring road of the Angoulême district.
The old town of Saint-Yrieix is located in Vénat, in the Charente valley. An important village at the foot of the coast, it brings together the church and the old town hall which has remained a school. Saint-Yrieix also has many hamlets including the Mesniers, the Fish, the Mas (upstream of Angoulême), the Planes (downstream).
The town is located on a plateau forming a peninsula into the Charente.
At the south of the town is the Charente valley, known as Les Planes.
Fountains line the north side of the plateau, in particular the Fountain of the Pots, the fountain of Pré du Peu, the Grange à l’Abbé, as well as in Vénat.
The old sand pits of Grande Prairie have been turned into to a vast body of water of 26 hectares, the lake of Grande Prairie, where various water sports take place. A nautical and aquatic centre has also been built with an ice rink near the lake.
The origin of the name of Saint-Yrieix is Saint Arède, abbot of the sixth century who founded various localities of the same name, in particular in Limousin, where the famous beef is produced.
The final x of Saint-Yrieix was traditionally silent, but with the arrival of new inhabitants in the 1960s came a voicing of the x which is now commonplace.
There has been a community here since forever. The tomb of Les Planes and its Champagne-Burgundy furniture is the tomb of one of the first Celtic women to arrive in the region, in the fifth century BC. Traces of settlements from the Roman and Carolingian eras have also been found.
There is no real village in Saint-Yrieix. The town hall is in Vénat, and a church was built there in 1848.
The Château de la Pouyade was built in 1870 on an old noble house. At the start of the 20th century, it belonged to a wealthy Bordeaux merchant, but during the Second World War it was occupied by the Germans.
At the end of the war it was confiscated and sold to the community of the Apostolic Sisters of the Good Shepherd, whose buildings on rue de Paris in Angoulême had been destroyed by bombardments. In 1990, the castle was transformed into a hotel and meeting place.
Unlike other nearby towns, Saint-Yrieix is not very industrial. It has only a few small shops.
There are four public schools and various sports facilities.