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A shopper’s paradise is on offer in the Charente Department! Lesser known than its neighbouring towns of Cognac and Angouleme, Soyaux is brimming with shops and businesses.
It has two main shopping areas – the Recoux area to the north, and the Croix Blanche area to the east, with a printing firm and a plastic packaging firm and the regional bank of Crédit Agricole Charente-Périgord providing much of the jobs in the town.
The Croix Blanche features a Carrefour hypermarket.
There are also branches of home furnishings retail chain Conforama, garden store Jardiland and home and garden store Leroy Merlin.
In 2013, a new shopping area La Jaufertie was opened opposite the medical centre. The area is host to many popular chains including Auchan Drive, Flunch, Electrot Depot and Coiff’n Co.
In addition to all this shopping goodness, The Champ de Maneuver shopping centre offers food stores, a bakery, clothing, pharmacies, driving schools, hairdressers and tobacconists. If all that weren’t enough, Avenue du Général-de-Gaulle, the main road through the town, also offers many more shops.
There are also two open-air markets, place Lucien-Petit and place Jean-Jacques-Rousseau.
If you’d rather indulge in sporting activities the choices here too, are wide. There are five pitches, four gyms, a dance hall, a boxing hall, three outdoor and three indoor tennis courts, a bike track, skate park and fitness trail.
As you can imagine with all these facilities, the list of clubs and societies in Soyaux is LONG.
Numerous club practice sports of all kinds including karate, football, badminton, dance, gymnastics, judo, boxing and hiking.
Soyaux is east of Angoulême , on the road to Périgueux . It is part of Grand Angoulême , and it is the second most populated town after Angoulême.
The largest district of Soyaux is the Champ de Maneuver, a low-cost housing estate built in the 60s. Here there is a mix of five-storey flats and 14-storey tower blocks.
The older village of Soyaux is small, and sits north of the road to Périgueux. This is where the parish church is.
The town is naturally very wooded, with rivers and streams running through it. However the area has suffered with poor soil for crops.
Soyaux really began to grow in the 60s with the building of the Champ de Maneuver on a former army training ground.
The area around it was classified as a sensitive urban area in 2004 and it has a population of about 4,600 – about half of the whole town’s population are here. Ten years ago, it was the subject of a vast urban renewal program.
Soyaux has a beautiful recently renovated Romanesque church, the Church of Saint-Mathieu. It was built during the second half of the 12th century and is listed as a historic monument.
Soyaux has many wash houses and fountains, including the Charlemagne fountain and the Font du Cerisier at the bottom of the hamlet of Pétureau.
The town was once bordered to the south by the Chemin des Anglais, a former Roman feudal road from Angoulême to Limoges.
Hospitals for lepers were built here in the Middle Ages to keep the sick away from the city. At the beginning of the 20th century there were still hamlets that once housed the lepers – the Maladrie and the Grand Chemin.
This feudal way then became road Angouleme Montbron before becoming the current road, the D 699 which passes through the Maison d’Ardoise crossroads to Limoges.
On the Recoux plateau, a Neolithic dwelling was found, as well as some tools and ceramics from Tène III. Just to the east, at Font Noire, canals, ceramics and tegulae show Gallo-Roman occupation, with a probable villa.
A large cemetery with sarcophagi was discovered around 1850 west of Pétureau. Remains of buildings bore the name of the town of Roulle. An old Roman road, the Chemin des Anglais formed a border with L’Isle-d’Espagnac.
In the 19th century the town was known for horse racing – the high society of Angouleme would visit Soyaux for several days to enjoy the pursuit.
One of the principal sources of income in the 20th century was quarrying. Local stone was used to build the town hall of Angoulême.
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There is so much to do here in Soyaux – almost every sporting activity is covered. A short drive away there are many beautiful walks in the open countryside.
Check out properties for sale in Soyaux here.
Soyaux is crossed by the D 939, former national road 139 from La Rochelle to Périgueux by Angoulême.
The town is bypassed by the east bypass of Angoulême (D 1000), to Puymoyen and Angoulême.
The D 121 also crosses the town, from the D 939 to Isle-d’Espagnac and Gond-Pontouvre . It passes through the Old Town and the Rochers.
The Garden of Scents and Flavors (allée de la Combe Cailloux, near the old town) was created by the town hall in 2004 and boasts 10 species and varieties of old roses, 14 species and varieties of fragrant climbing plants, 14 species and varieties of fruit shrubs, a collection of santolines and a collection of lavender, 20 species and varieties of scented shrubs and 46 species and varieties of aromatic plants.
The garden is open all year round, and entry is free.
The Les Brandes recreation area on the site of the old zoo offers seven hectares of wooded land with picnic places and games.
Les Brandes de Soyaux a former military ground of 70 ha of protected moors. The city has set up an 4.5km educational discovery trail there, which allows visitors to discover the remarkable flora and fauna of the site.
The Henri-Matisse centre hosts numerous exhibitions and theatrical performances.
Soyaux has two colleges and a public high school.
There are also five elementary schools and five public nursery schools.
East of Angoulême live the Spaniaciens and the Spaniaciennes of L’Isle-d’Espagnac. The town, which has a population of about 5,000, is sandwiched between Angoulême and Ruelle-sur-Touvre.
The town has many scattered hamlets, scattered round the old town. Chaumontet was the first important hamlet of the town due to the growth of Angoulême, spread out along the road to Limoges. Bois-Menu is the part of the town located high up, on the Soyaux plateau.
The Mérigots occupy the western end of the town, near the woods. Further south, there is the Logis de Lunesse and the Logis de Pindray . In the centre, the Grands Champs is one of the first housing estates in the town, built in 1960 near the cemetery. To the east, along the road to Montbron, are the new suburban areas of Genévrière and Groies.
To the north-east, the former Bel-Air aerodrome is now Angoulême exhibition and congress centre.
The plateaus to the south of the town are occupied by shrub vegetation typical of the area with many holm oaks on a north-facing slope.
In the centre of the town is the small marshy area of Font Noire, occupied by gardens.
The town ‘two flowers’ awarded by the National Council of towns and villages in bloom of France.
In the northern part of the town is industrial area number three, which makes it one of the most industrialised towns of the department.
One of the biggest employers is Schneider Electric , formerly Télémécanique, which employs 600 people, manufacturing electronic equipment.
The town has two nursery schools and two elementary schools.
There is a vocational training centre in the industrial area. It offers about 50 training courses, and language tuition. Around 4,000 people attend training courses each year.
The parish church of Saint-Michel, built in the Middle Ages under English rule, is in the old part of the town. It marks the centre of the old village located on the banks of the Font-Noire.
There are numerous other historic buildings of note here too.
The Bois des Mérigots occupies 10 hectares to the west of the town. It is landscaped, or ZBU (urban wooded area). It contains one of the largest oaks in the department at an incredible 4.7m in circumference and 1.46m in diameter. It it more than 200 years old.
Magnac-sur-Touvre, population 3,000, is in the Touvre valley on the eastern outskirts of Angoulême a mile south of Ruelle.
The railway from Angoulême to Limoges crosses the town and Ruelle station here.
Magnac is also served by public transport from Angoulême (lines 3, 20, 26 of the STGA ).
Many important hamlets dot the town. To the north, Chez Grelet, Relette and les Reganes link Magnac to Ruelle. To the south of the village, Bellevue overlooks the Touvre. Further south, Vallade and Bussac are on the heights. To the west, Entreroche and Longiesse border L’Isle-d’Espagnac.
The town occupies the southwest slope of the Touvre valley, 55 metres above sea level.
The Touvre river, an 11km tributary of the Charente, has historically contributed to the economy of the valley, as its pure water and constant temperature make it ideal for fish farming.
The limestone terrain of the town is quite dry and wooded. There are oaks here, alongside junipers, maples, pines and even chestnut trees here.
Objects from the Iron Age and the Neolithic have been found in the Entreroche cave and the sands of the Bois de Mativo. Gallo-Roman remains and objects have been found in several places in the town, including a coin bearing the effigy of Empress Lucilla.
Magnac was home to paper mills, thanks to the Touvre. In 1828 the first continuous paper machine in the country was installed in the local Veuze paper mill.
The Relette district was mainly inhabited by workers from the Ruelle foundry.
Magnac has three public schools.
The parish church of St Cybard is Romanesque and dates from the 12th century. It is next to the bridge, where there is a washhouse. It is simply stunning, in the shape of a Greek cross, with domed bell tower set off-centre. The bell tower has two floors and has been classified as a historical monument since 1907.
The Logis de Maumont is located next to the Maumont paper mill. It dates from the 16th century but was rebuilt in the 19th century.
The GR4 hiking trail crosses the town.
Touvre is at the sources of the Touvre, 3 km southeast of Ruelle.
The railway from Angoulême to Limoges crosses the town, but there is no station here.
The church and the old castle are on the promontory overlooking the sources of the Touvre and the town hall and the schools are located in Pontil, near the sources of the Touvre, the railway and the road to Bois-Blanc.
The hamlets of Lèche , Gauchons , Varennes and Trotte-Renard are spread out up the valley of L’Échelle to the south of the town.
To the north of the town we find the Maillerie at the D 699 bridge over the Touvre on the border with Magnac, and Fourville on the border with Mornac.
There is also Beauregard to the east and Chatins et les Cailloux to the west les. Many of the old hamlets are surrounded by modern housing estates.
The Pré de la Cure on the south bank of the Touvre hosts the municipal stadium, tennis courts and a lovely green space.
The limestone fed lime kilns to the north of the town at Fourville, including a town that operated from 1928 to 1988 and an important quarry to the south.
To the east is the forest of Bois Blanc, at the edge of Mornac, where the highest point is 161 metres. From this plateau you can descend deep, dry valleys towards the valleys of L’Échelle and Touvre, which occupy the western half of the town.
Some ancient tombs have been found in the town, from the Tène III period near Bois Blanc and from the Roman period.
Guillaume Taillefer, bishop of Angoulême , built the castle around 1049 to defend himself from his brother Count Foulques . It was then a fortress.
Upon the death of Guy de Lusignan in 1308, the castle became the property of the kings of France who placed a garrison and a governor there.
In 1360, the castle, like the whole county, was returned to the hands of the English with the Treaty of Brétigny . But in 1387 the English were driven out by Marshal Sancerre , who dismantled the castle. Iin 1738 its owner rebuilt another more modest castle nearby.
Touvre has a public primary school comprising four classes (one kindergarten and three elementary.
The parish church of Sainte-Madeleine dates from the 12th century and has four capitals in the nave registered as historical monuments.
Several significant buildings are here, including the Lussac mill , a former Pontil flour mill on the site of the Ravenel fish farm.
The mill of the Maillerie is a former corn mill transformed in the late 14th century into a cardboard and rubber plant.
The Roy mill was a former wheat mill which became the Bellet fish farm .
François Ravaillac , assassin of King Henri IV is said to have been born in Touvre in 1578. There is a house in Touvre which is dubbed ‘the castle of Ravaillac’, but which never belonged to the Ravaillac family.
Bouëx is 13 km east of Angoulême, 5km from Chazelles, 8 km from Dignac, 6 km from Dirac , 10 km from Ruelle , Soyaux and Marthon . So it is pretty equidistant to several larger villages and towns.
The village is quite small, but it neighbours on several other communities.
The name of Bouëx comes from Buxia , ‘the moor’, land covered with copses, and particularly boxwood.
The castle near the church dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. The Arnauds, lords of Bouex, were an ancient Angoumois family. Jean Arnaud was mayor of Angoulême in 1682 and his son until 1686 , as well as his nephew from 1721 to 1723, so it was quite a nepotistic affair. The land Bouëx passed by marriage and inheritance to the family of Jovelle , who kept it for much of the 19th century, then passed to John of the Boutelière early 20th century.
The parish church of St Stephen was a priory – in the 13th century. During the wars of religion the neighbouring lords annexed it as a temple. Some walls of the priory buildings remain to the east of the choir. The church had a private door leading to the 15th century castle.
The wash house is in the centre of the old town opposite the church. It belonged to the castle before 1925, when the town acquired it. However, the villagers had free access to it. In 1939 a draw-off pump and a drinker for animals were added.
The Great Mills was built in the late 19th century on the site of a grist mill – Vallade mill was in operation until 1987.
Mornac is a small vilage 10 km east of Angoulême, which has seen a lot of house building in recent years.
The Angoulême-Limoges railway crosses the town where it had a station in Quéroy. Now the nearest station is Ruelle station , served by TER trains to Angoulême and Limoges .
The hamlet of Quéroy lies to the east, as well as part of the national forests of Bois Blanc to the south, and Braconne to the north-east.
The other hamlets are Les Theils near Riffauds, Maine Quérand , Les Mesniers , Bois Marceau and Gibauds which surround the village, La Brouterie and Ronzac near Quéroy.
The town also has the Chabasse residence , a city built by the Americans in the 1950s, as well as more recent housing estates which extend to the west of the town as far as Fourville.
A dry valley crosses the town from east to west and cuts into the plateau. Heading towards the Touvre in Magnac, it passes at the foot of the village.
The town contains the highest point of the Angoulême region, which is 178 metres, at Puy de Nanteuil . From here you can see the Angoulême basin to the west, and the Braconne forest to the east, and beyond, the Massif Central with the Charente limousine which begins with the massif de l’Arbre towards Montembœuf culminating at 353 meters.
Because of its karstic soil , no stream crosses the town and its main valley is dry . However, there are fountains are at the foot of Puy de Nanteuil.
The town was crossed by two ancient roads which intersected at Gros Chêne near Quéroy.
During the Middle Ages , Mornac was on a secondary east-west route between Montbron and Angoulême frequented by pilgrims going to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle and to the remains of Saint Eutrope in Saintes.
During the first half of the 20th century, the town was served by the small railway from Angouleme to Roumazières. There were two stations, one in the town of Mornac and the other in Quéroy. The commune was then mainly rural.
These days the town has a ‘two flowers’ rating awarded by the National Council of towns and villages in bloom of France, a nursery school and an elementary school.
The Parish Church of St Martin dates from the 12th century. It has two bells, one dating from 1564 and listed as a historical monument as an object since 1943, the other dating from 1724 and listed as a historical monument since 2004. Its carved wooden pulpit has also been listed as a historical monument since 1908 .
The logis du Quéroy former priory has been restored.
Nearby attractions include the Forest of the Braconne and the White Wood Forest, fountains with wash houses (Font Michaud and Maine Quérand) and the hiking trails, including the GR 4 which goes from Royan to Grasse.