Boating Holidays Masthead
Boating Holidays Masthead

Charente Boating Holidays

The Charente River gently meanders westwards from Angouleme to the Atlantic at Rochefort. King Henry IV declared it “the most beautiful river in my kingdom”.

On this attractive waterway you will cruise through lush countryside where bankside vineyards, sleepy hamlets, Renaissance chateau and Romanesque churches will attract you ashore.

Charante Area Map

The crystal clear water is perfect for swimming and fishing and there are many spots for this, particularly in the upper reaches bordered by lush meadows and woodlands.

Approximately mid-point along the Charente’s navigation are Cognac and Jarnac, home to world famous Cognac houses. Distillery tours are available, and both towns have excellent eating and shopping opportunities. There is a cruiser boat base at Jarnac.

The River Charente and Cognac Country

Downstream see the chain ferry at Chaniers and cruise to Saintes, famous for its Roman arch, columns, frescoes and statues.

You can head towards the Atlantic coast and the magnificent fortified harbour of Rochefort. If you have not been boating before, we recommend you do not cruise below Saint Savinien as the river becomes tidal.

Upstream, the river lazily meanders around woodlands offering many opportunities for cycling to explore the lovely villages along its banks.

The river curves around Saint-Simeux, the ancient lightermen's village, and it is easy to visit the chocolate factory at Trois Palis. A walk around the ramparts of Angouleme, then a quick descent back to the port where your boat is moored.

On the Charente there are no lock-keepers and you will operate the locks yourselves. You’ll find this is fun and is not an arduous task.

Area Highlights

Highlights of the Charente Region

  • The ramparts of Angoulême and the castle of St. Pierre dating back to the 12th century
  • Family friendly St Savinien with children's park, swimming pool and crazy golf
  • The riverside town of Jarnac - the birthplace of Francois Mitterand
  • Château at St Brice
  • Chocolate tasing at Trois-Palis
  • Roman arch, amphitheatre and frescoes at Saintes
  • 17th century naval dockyard at Rochefort
  • Cognac- a delightful town with tours
Charante Boat Hire

Useful Information:

  • The Charente runs a regular course and is easy to navigate.
  • There are few locks, which are easy to navigate. There are no lock keeps and the locks are open on Bank Holidays too.
  • From St. Savinien to Rochefort the river becomes tidal - affected by Atlantic tides, strong currents and fast changes in river levels.

Customer Reviews

The trip from Jarnac to Cognac was exceptional the views were stunning and the friendliness of some of the other boaters was great, with one in particular who helped my wife with some of the locks. Overall it was well worth the money and we're looking forward to booking again for next year. Thank you for your help in organising our trip which was a great way of spending our 10th wedding anniversary.GW
Jarnac - Cognac
The Charante was so beautiful. The locks challenging but fun. Probably a larger boat would have been better but we were conservative in the size of boat we had as we were novices to boating. The boat was a good size for two
WP – Jarnac and back in South West France
We had a great time on the River Charente. Going down stream via Cognac to just outside Saintes before going upstream to a few miles outside of Angoulleme. A lovely week.
CL – Jarnac and back in South West France

Suggested Cruises from our base in Charente

Charente Boating Map

View Routes from:

Boat holidays from Jarnac

Jarnac is a home to the famous Courvoisier brandy. Take time to discover the town and its history and to learn about the powerful Chabot family of barons, and maybe take the tour of the Courvoisier distillery.

Out and Back Routes

Jarnac - Angouleme - Jarnac

Return Trip • 1 Week • 88km • 30 Locks • 22hrs

Upstream of Jarnac the impressive silhouette of Bassac Abbey basks in the sunlight. Discover fine Romanesque art at the church in Chateauneuf-sur-Charente before the river curves around Saint-Simeux, the ancient lightermen's village. Indulge in chocolate at Trois Palis with a tasting at the chocolate factory.

Hike up the slope to the ramparts of Angouleme, admire the view, and perhaps trace the history of the famous Charente paper industry in the local museum.

Jarnac - Rochefort - Jarnac

Return Trip • 1 Week • 186km • 12 Locks • 33hrs

Downstream from Jarnac is Bourg-Charente with its famous restaurant and the magnificent facade of the chateau of St Brice. No visit to Cognac is complete without a tour of one of the brandy distilleries. Further downstream see the chain ferry at Chaniers and cruise to Saintes, famous for its Roman arch, columns, frescoes and statues. From St Savinien to Rochefort the river becomes tidal and extra care is needed.

Jarnac - Cognac - St Simeux - Jarnac

Return Trip • 1 Week • 140km • 24 Locks • 25hrs

On a river cruise in the Charente, cruise through the picturesque pastoral valley passing Roman ruins that speak of times long past. In pretty Châteauneuf-sur-Charente, explore the Romanesque art in the church of St Pierre.

Jarnac - Cognac - Saintes - Jarnac

Short Break Return Trip • 3 - 4 Days • 90km • 10 Locks • 16hrs

Visit Cognac and explore the distilleries that fill the air with the sounds and aromas that have made this town famous. Cruise past lush vineyards, fields ablaze with colourful sunflowers, imposing castles and picturesque villages.

Charante Boating Holidays
Charante Boat Hire

Please note that hours suggested above are approximate. The River Charente has no lock keepers so you operate the locks yourself.

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