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The new town of Confolens was created in 2016 with the merger of Confolens and its neighbour Saint-Germain-de-Confolens.
The town, which draws thousands of visitors with its annual music festival in August each year, sits where the Vienne and Goire rivers meet.
It is breathtakingly pretty, with many medieval buildings, a keep and two bridges. A real gem of the Charente department.
Nearby beauty sports include Chassenon and the Haute-Charente lakes, which offer watersports and sandy beaches.
Prices for the most gorgeous properties are low here, making it a very attractive prospect for holiday homes as well as incoming settlers.
Once known for its tanneries, the town features about 60 half timber buildings along the river where people used to make their living with leather goods.
Confolens also has a dungeon, fortifications from the Middle Ages and historic mansions – it is well worth a visit if you are considering a move to the Charente.
For over 60 years the town has drawn musicians from around the globe with its annual festival, which celebrates world music on a grand scale, with a whole fortnight of entertainment.
Tourist attractions include two churches – Saint Barthelemy and Saint-Maxime – the chapel of the Commandery and the manor of the Counts, the keep and the old Hall of Justice. A late fifteenth century building used in 1619 to plot the kidnapping of Marie de Medici, and several historic monuments in the cemetery are also popular.
Apart from the festival the Tourist Office offers entertainment programs year-round. There is a small train museum here, and biking and cycle trails.
Visitors love to take something back from an artists’ collective in Saint-Germain-de-Confolens, who produce beautiful things in various materials such as wood, wool, ceramics and cardboard.
The region has been populated since prehistoric times, as evidenced by many megalithic monuments. But there is no formal mention of Confolens until the 11th century.
Confolens was on the old Roman road from Angoulême to Bourges via Argenton, where it crossed the Vienne. There may have been an ancient bridge on the site of Old Bridge.
In the Middle Ages, Confolens was on pilgrims’ routes.
In the 16th century Confolens had an important role as a hub for trade in salt, wines and leather and wood. The salt came here from the coast, wines from Angoumois and Saintonge and leather and wood from Limousin.
A map from 1826 shows the main road then passing through the narrow rue du Soleil and over the Goire bridge. A drawbridge and the Goire gate were demolished, but the passage was still too narrow for traffic and a new bridge was built downstream in 1840. In 1873, the shops backing onto the Saint- Maxime and a small island where the Place du Marché is now, started to be demolished to widen the roads still further.
In 1848, National Workshops were created to reduce unemployment in France and it was decided to build a new bridge over the Vienne, upstream of the Old Bridge. This caused an influx of workers and the population of Confolens rose from 2,787 inhabitants in 1846 to 3,113 in 1851, before dropping back down to 2,720 in 1861.
The town hall was built in 1853, then the prisons were built in 1857-1859 before the courthouse was built in 1868.
Confolens station was opened in 1887 and was redeveloped in the late 19th century.
At the same time the population of Confolens rose again, to 3,068 residents and a new covered market was built near the slaughterhouse.
After the First World War, the population of Confolens collapsed again – the town lost nearly 500 people between the censuses of 1911 and 1921.
The main project of the 1920s was the transfer of the slaughterhouse outside the city, near the station (they are now workshops, known as ‘the casino’). The prisons closed in 1926. In addition, the Confolens – Le Vigeant railway line was closed to passenger traffic in 1938, but goods traffic was maintained until 1978. The line was decommissioned in October 1979 and the section south is now used by the Charente-Limousine Railway association, which runs bicycle trails there.
In the 1950s, a college was built near Saint-Barthélemy, then a new gendarmerie in 1958. In the 60s and 70s several important projects are carried out. The new slaughterhouse – the most important in France for goats – the first housing estates, a new high school, the bypass, the library and two commercial and industrial zones were created.
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Although relatively small, Confolens has an outward looking, global attitude. There is plenty here for visitors and residents alike, and the whole town buzzes with excitement and activity when the festival starts in August each year.
It is not far from bigger towns and only half an hour from the airport.
To see properties available for sale in Confolens, visit www.aplaceinthesun.com/confolens.
The airport in Limoges is just 40 minutes away by car. You can also get there by bus, but that takes nearly three hours.
Apart from the festival de Confolens there are regular events held here.
Confolens holds markets every Saturday and Wednesday morning and on the 12th of each month Fair Confolens is held.
In April an exhibition of unusual objects and toys of the past is held and in late August it is the tuen of the Fair St Bartholomew.
In December there is an exhibition of collectors at the Mill.
And throughout the year, many associations of the town organise various festivals and events, such as a spring market, garage sales, choir, harvest festival, hog roasts, etc.
There are also various heritage days held in the town.
There are primary and middle schools here, but no international schools nearby.
Montmérac was formed in 2015, merging Montchaude and Lamérac. Many people prefer to call it Montchaude-Lamérac or Lamérac-Montchaude.
The area features a gorgeous open air pool. The pond of La Vergne offers turquoise waters for an unsupervised dip from June until August.
The parish church of Saint-Saturnin was a former Benedictine priory. It was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and restored in the 19th century.
The reconstructed Saint-Cybard parish church dates from 1895 and features important furniture listed.
The Château de Montchaude is one of the two pearls of the Renaissance in Charente, along with La Rochefoucauld. It was rebuilt in the 16th century at the initiative of the family Saint-Gelais and largely rebuilt in the 19th century by Louis Arnoux, MP for Barbezieux. It is private property.
Bourg-Charente is just downstream from Jarnac and upstream from Cognac, 18 miles west of Angoulême.
The nearest station two miles away in Jarnac.
Bourg-Charente has numerous smaller hamlets, including Tilloux, Chez Roland, Chez le Tard, Veillard, La Lêche, Le Logis, les Voineaux, Brandeau, Margonnet, Pérusseau, À Genin and À Réthoré.
A high wooded cliff dominates the left bank of the Charente. From here the view is breathtaking. On the right bank, at the top of a steep rock is the castle of Bourg, beyond which unfolds the vast plain of the Netherlands. To the south, Grande-Champagne offers a wide view of the vineyards, in the centre of which rises the slender spire of the bell tower of the church of Gensac-la-Pallue.
This is a stunning place to live, with a labyrinth of caves in the cliffs, attracting many tourists. There are also many chateaux here.
Near the village of Tilloux, in the middle of a huge wood, there is an enormous sand and pebble quarry, which was used to provide the materials for the railways. The quarry was connected to the Angoulême-Saintes route by a special branch. Many artefacts have been found here, including a magnificent tusk from the ancient elephas discovered there in 1895.
Viticulture is the main activity of Bourg-Charente. The town has eight farmers, two harvesting producers practicing the direct sale of pineau and cognac, three distilleries and the Marnier-Lapostolle establishments.
There is a mini market and bakery, a drinks wholesaler, a gourmet restaurant and guest rooms.
The nursery school is in Veillard and the elementary school is at the boys’ school in Bourg-Charente.
Each year, the Bourg-Charente feria takes place, a celebration that lasts three days and includes the fire of Saint-Jean on the Charente, fireworks and parade of floats on the water.
Saint-Maurice-des-Lions is three miles from Confolens and 30 miles from Angoulême. With an area of over 30 square miles, it is the most extensive municipality in the Charente department.
The village of Lésignac on the edge of the town is quite important, and has other hamlets – La Plagne, Chambon, Rue, Gamory, Brouterie, Lesterie, Chez Fourot, Mazouin, Le Cluzeau, Chez Pougeard and Sellas
The town occupies a vast undulating plateau with an average altitude of 200 metres, which descends towards the Vienne valley.
The village dominates the bank of the Goire, a tributary of the Vienne at Confolens, and the Biais stream which swells the Goire downstream from Saint-Maurice. The Goire crosses the town. Other small tributaries cross or border the town and The Vienne borders the town to the west. The town also has many small ponds and reservoirs.
Maurice, leader of the Theban legion, was martyred in Agaune (Saint-Maurice, Switzerland) in 286 9. The town also takes its name from the fact that there were once three granite lions that adorned the town, of which one remains today.
The remaining lion is very worn out by bad weather and children riding it, and looks more like a seal than a big cat! The other two are said to have been stolen by people from Limoges after a violent fight. In fact, there are two lions adorning the church of Saint-Michel-des-Lions in Limoges who look remarkably similar…
The Terreal group has a roof tile production plant there. This is the tile factory located in Chambon, built in 1945 in place of a former non-mechanized tile factory.
The town of Ansac-sur-Vienne is near Confolens and includes many hamlets – Vaine and Ris-Martin, Poirier, Les Prats (fancy living there?), Maison Neuve, Le Mas, Monvallier, Le Mansle, La Vergne, Chez Ganet, La Parlie and Les Procureurs.
Ansac is on the left bank of the Vienne, downstream from Manot and upstream from Confolens.
Small tributary streams flow into the Vienne. There is the Mas stream to the south, the temporary Virat stream, the Faye stream to the north of the village, and the Tulette stream on the border with Confolens. A few small ponds and water reservoirs dot the town.
The town is threaded with ancient routes, showing a settlement here for many years.
Ansac hosts a primary school (elementary and kindergarten), and Manot hosts the elementary school.
St Benedict church dates back to the 11th century and was rebuilt in the 12th century. Parts of it were later rebuilt and added.
The home of the Villatte is a mansion from the 16th century with a spiral staircase and a chapel with a coffered ceiling.