Towards La Rochelle

Following the Charente towards the north opens the painter’s eye. The river, its banks lined with willow, chestnut, beech and birch, offers compositions of calm and balance. In the distance, a small town forms a setting of white stone such as Taillebourg or Saint-Savinien. A group of painters, led by Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste Corot, found inspiration in Port-Berteau, a hamlet of a few houses on the banks of the Charente that retains a unique charm. In these bends of the river, the limestone cliffs stand close to the banks. The white stone of Crazannes, much appreciated for its quality and its dense grain, has been quarried since ancient times and become characteristic of buildings in Saintonge. The blocks of stone were loaded onto gabares or barges in the ports of the Charente to be exported all over the world.

Now abandoned and overgrown with vegetation, these quarries are intriguing places steeped in history and can be discovered at the Crazannes nature centre. Close by, at Port d’Envaux, the site at Les Lapidiales carries on the culture of stone by opening a vast space for sculptors who succeed one another each year.. This ongoing project, highlighted by original creations, is a living expression of the heritage of the region. The lords settled in these choice surroundings.
The lapidiales

The lapidiales

Castle of Crazannes

Castle of Crazannes

The Castle of Crazannes is called the Castle of Puss in Boots because, in the 17th century, its owner was the inspiration for the Marquis de Carabas in the tale by Perrault. It also prides itself on having hosted the Black Prince and Francis l. It underwent modifications at different periods and contains some splendid sculptures in the flamboyant Gothic style. In Port-d’Envaux, the Castle of Panloy is an example of Louis XV architecture. The walker can head on towards Rochefort, rich in art and history, or turn aside towards the Boutonne and the region of Saint-Jean-d’Angely.
There he can try the fun visits at Archingeay, in the Musée Les Trésors de Lisette which recreates life during the Belle Époque and in Matha, at the Jardin de Bambous, discovering the botanical garden and the vineyard. The Renaissance takes pride of place at the château de Dampierre-sur-Boutonne. Built on an island in the river during the 15th century, it has a gallery where the carved stone decorations form a series of mottoes, riddles and citations which make up an alchemist’s gramarye. Echoing the theme, the gardens are presented as “mythological and alchemical” with an initiation trail and a maze. Nature is also in the spotlight at the Zoodyssée animal park, in the forest of Chizé, which presents European wildlife in an educational and enthralling way.
Zoodyssee

Zoodyssee