About Charente

Find yourself spellbound on the shimmering Charente River

A river of incredibly clear water lined with pines, vineyards and meadows, the Charente is amongst the prettiest waterways for canal boat holidays in France! Long known for its Cognac, gracious châteaux and friendly people, the valley opens its arms to you, inviting you to savour a leisurely journey on a river that looks as beautiful as it did many centuries ago.


Book early for 2020 and save up to 15%. Offer ends 1 December.

Plus, Save 25% on Budget & Comfort boats departing between 23 March - 3 April, 9 - 16 May and 1 - 10 October. Offer ends 30 September.


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Map showing where Charente boating region is in France

Find your bearings...

Charente region map

 = Le Boat Base           = Canal           = Navigable river          = No navigation beyond this point

The perfect boating region for...


Nature Lovers

Meandering at a slow and easy pace through the valley, the Charente River is rural enough to support all kinds of wildlife. You’ll especially love the birds — herons, kingfishers, ducks, swans, hawks and others.

History & Heritage

The rich history and heritage of the Charente Valley constantly surrounds you. The ramparts of St. Pierre Cathedral in Angoulême soar high. You’ll enjoy the Rochefort Maritime Museum in Rochefort and the Archaeology Museum in Saintes.

Wine Tasting

Whilst you're in Charente, take a tour of Courvoisier’s Cognac factory in Cognac, and then visit the Musée des Arts du Cognac. The Good Food and Wine Festival held every August in St. Savinien could also be part of your wine tasting cruise.


Charente angling holidays are a favourite amongst many! Carp, pike, bream, roach, chub and black bass are all present in the river. The fishing is great in Jarnac, especially for roach. Stroll half a kilometer from the quay to a great spot for a fishing picnic.


Take the kids cycling along the shaded towpath and explore pretty Charente villages. For a pleasant outing, hire canoes and kayaks at the watersports base in Angoulême. The town also has a good comic book museum. The kids’ll love gabarre rides at St. Simon.

Please note that the Charente cruising season lasts from 1st April-31st October 2019, and then from 1st April-31st October 2020. 

Useful information

Download our region guide

We've produced a handy PDF guide for this region to give you an overview of all the stops and things to do along the waterway.

Download our region guide

A bit of background

The Charente River follows its winding course to the Atlantic for 361 kilometres (224 miles). Only 147 kilometres (91 miles) is navigable from Angoulême to the sea. The inland reaches of the river are tamed with a series of locks that create calm lake-like gems ideal for canal boat holidays in France. As you round the next turn, you’ll see pretty châteaux built from the native white and yellow stone of the region, and a medieval village might tempt you to stop for a bite.

Gentle rolling hills punctuate the upper stretches inland from the river’s source in Chéronnac, separating the 10,000-square-kilometer (6,213-square-mile) Charente basin from those of Garonne and Loire. It’s best to view the river as two bodies of water. The inland reaches are easy, but below St. Savinien is a free-flowing tidal river that can show its wild side.

In times past, convoys of flat-bottomed Charentaise gabarres (sailing barges) plied the waters of Charente, carrying salt, produce, wine and cognac to market. Though it was all business, the beauty of the craft complemented the overall natural splendour. King Francis I, who was born in Cognac, is said to have described the waters as “the most beautiful river in my kingdom.” Others say King Henry IV said it, but most bets are on the Cognac native as the true source!

The Charente is very easy to navigate all the way to St. Savinien. After that, you run into big Atlantic tides with a range of up to 5 metres (16 feet) and velocities of 4 knots or more. Thus, we do not recommend proceeding past St. Savinien to Rochefort unless you have previous boating experience in tidal waters.

There are 21 locks above St. Savinien. They are easy to operate. There are no lock keepers

Opening hours: Locks are open all day. No transits are allowed after sunset.

The lock hours at St. Savinien are 08:00-18:00 (6:00 p.m.). The lock closes for lunch between 12:00-14:00 (2:00 p.m.).

Public holidays: Locks are open on bank holidays.

Moorings are plentiful on the Charente River. A trip to the seaport of Rochefort is well worth the effort. If you don’t want to tangle with the tides, moor at St. Savinien and hop on the train to Rochefort!

To find out how to get to our base in this boating region, as well as what facilities and amenities are available there or nearby, click on the base below:

  • Hire of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demonstration prior to departure
  • Technical support
  • On-board maps and visitor information
  • Passage through locks
  • Optional holiday extras
  • Boat damage waiver
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour (by the litre in Scotland).
  • Travel to and from the base(s)
  • Waterside services if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
  • Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
  • Food and drink

Take a look at our waterway and lock closures page to keep up to date with the cruising conditions across all of our regions.

Interactive map of the Charente

  = Le Boat base       = Point of interest

Great to see...

Must see
Seafood in Rochefort

Blending the modern and contemporary periods, Rochefort has a long and rich history. Discover its monuments and sights, like the churches Saint-Louis and Notre-Dame. Why not walk in the gardens near the beautiful Arsenal door?

Must see
Port Minature in St. Savinien

Along the canal lies one of the most picturesque villages in the area. Dating back to Roman time, Saint-Savivien is a peaceful and charming village to see. Visit the local church Saint-Savivien, which overlooks the Charente on the hill.

Along the Rue des Armateurs, some magnificent residences attest to the importance of this small village. You can visit the 13th century Château de Panloy (900m from the mooring) and take a guided tour to view its tapestries, its wood panelling and its hunting gallery. By the river there’s a sandy play area which has a safe area for swimming, as well as refreshments and kayak hire – a nice place for a lunchtime picnic and to while away the afternoon. And if you’re feeling fit, it’s worth taking a walk or a cycle to Les Lapidiales, an old quarry located just 1km out of town.

Must see
Arch of Germanicus, Saintes, Charente

Saintes is the second most important city in the area. It's a city full of history with magnificient monuments like the basilica Saint-Eutrop. Enjoy visiting the old pedestrian streets where you will find both good views and good restaurants.

Welcome to Chaniers, a pleasant town to stop and visit. You will enjoy visiting the Church of Saint-Pierre, whose foundation dates back to the eleventh century. Take time to walk along the canal banks; they are absolutely beautiful.

Must see
Glasses of Cognac

Cognac is a dynamic and historic city. Walk the old winding streets lined with timbered houses, and explore the green gardens next to the city hall. Cognac is famous for its delightful brandy, which you can enjoy tasting while you're here.

In this quiet yet brilliant place, you will find a natural and pristine town surrounded by vineyards. Downtown, you may discover the beautiful old castle and its green gardens. Welcome to Bourg-Charente.

Must see
Lock in Jarnac

Jarnac is a welcoming town. Take time to discover the city and its history and to learn about the powerful Chabot family of barons.

Saint-Simon is little peaceful town where you will enjoy the fresh air. Downtown, take your time and walk along the winding streets; discover the old church Saint-Sigismond.

In the heart of an area known for great spirits like Cognac and Pineau, historic Châteauneuf-sur-Charente welcomes you. Visit church Saint-Pierre and dine in one of the fine restaurants downtown.

Trois-Palis is a peaceful town where you will enjoy walking, and perhaps visiting the old Romanesque church, Notre Dame. The old mills have been replaced by a chocolate factory; its shop may be open.

Must see

Also called the 'Wall of the Canal du Midi', Angoulême is a great city which has seen many wars over the centuries; evident in the many fortifications you'll see around town. It is now a charming neighborhood of restaurants, galleries and boutiques. Downtown, discover many monuments like the impressive and marvelous City Hall, which is a former castle.

Itinerary suggestions

To help you get an idea of how far you can travel in the time you have, here's a selection of routes to and from our bases in this region. You dont have to stop at all the places listed or follow the route exactly. So long as you return your boat to your end base by the date you've booked - you're free to enjoy your cruise however you like. For a comfortable pace, allowing you time to regularly stop and explore, we'd recommend an average of 2 - 4 hours cruising each day.

Jarnac RETURN via Angoulême


22 hr(s) of cruising

88km 30 lock(s) 7 nights

Jarnac RETURN via Angoulême

Head eastward on the River Charente to beautiful villages with cafés, historic sites, museums and eclectic shops. The 1,000-year-old abbey in Bassac and 12th-century St. Pierre Cathedral in Angoulême reflect the rich history of the region, which is always apparent in the narrow streets and the ancient market squares. Charente boating in France ushers you into incredible pastoral beauty.

22 hr(s) of cruising

88km 30 lock(s) 7 nights

Jarnac RETURN via Cognac & Saintes


15 hr(s) of cruising

90km 10 lock(s) 4 nights

Jarnac RETURN via Cognac & Saintes

Distilleries hum with activity, filling the air with the sounds and aromas that have made the town of Cognac famous for eons. You’re in the heart of beautiful Charente! On the river, lush vineyards, fields ablaze in colourful sunflowers, imposing castles, and picturesque villages create an ever-changing tapestry from your sundeck — the essence of a Charente boat hire in France!

15 hr(s) of cruising

90km 10 lock(s) 4 nights

Our Feefo reviews

Feefo is an independent and impartial review service that requests reviews directly from those who have been on a Le Boat vacation. Below you can read what our past customers think about their Le Boat experience, and trust that what you read is unfiltered, unedited and uncensored.

Added on 06 September 2019

Leonid Kuznetsov said

Это был наш первый опыт,нам практически все понравилось. Все соответствовало тому,что мы прочитали на сайте компании.
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 02 September 2019

Beverley Reid said

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip on the Charente. The boat was in good condition and the instructions were good. We had a great few days on the Charente. The scenery was lovely, little villages to visit, the weather was perfect and we were able to cycle as well. We enjoyed a Cognac house tour at Thomas Hine and enjoyed all the spots we stopped. The only thing that would improve the experience would be to have a shuttle to the train station as getting taxis in Jarnac proved difficult for both couples (especially when leaving).
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 12 August 2019

Jonathan Shaw said

professional atitude good time, nice boat. will get the Bar B Q one next time
Hi Jonathon, Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback. I'm really glad to hear that you were well looked after by our lovely teams and that you had a fab holiday! We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon! All the best, The Le Boat Team
Jarnac - Jarnac
Salsa A
Added on 15 July 2019

Vicky Pratt said

Good all the way through Lovely town and super helpful and friendly locals
Hello and thanks for the positive feedback. I'm glad to hear that you had a lovely holiday from start to finish and hope that we can welcome you on board again soon!All the best,The Le Boat Team
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 06 July 2019

Sergiy Gurin said

This was our second trip and, same as the first time, it has fully met our expectations. Very good service and support from A to Z of the trip. Helpful and competent staff, clear and detailed instructions and practical part, spotless condition of the boat, quick and efficient support during trip. To make your trip successful, you need to plan it in advance and to read as much information as possible before you start. All info is available on Le Boat site. Very polite, helpful and efficient staff. Very co-operative, when it came to using car park after closing hour. Spotless condition of the base.
Hi Sergiy, Thanks for the lovely feedback. I'm really glad to hear that you had such a lovey holiday and that both our teams and resources met your expectations. Thanks very much for your loyalty and we hope that we can welcome you on board again soon! All the best, The Le Boat Team
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 24 June 2019

Emily Tyler said

Every step of the way the le boat people we interacted with were helpful and attentive. We felt in safe hands. Fabulous holiday with kids, a relaxing and fun way to expose kids to a different culture.
Thank you for your feedback. We're so glad that you had a great holiday and we look forward to welcoming you back on board another cruise soon.
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 19 April 2019

Laura Lander said

Friendly service, great boat. A most enjoyable holiday - we will return! Gorgeous area of France to explore
Hi Laura, thanks for your feedback. We're so glad to hear that you had a great holiday with us and we're looking forward to welcoming you back on board in future!
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 24 September 2018

Gary Murphy said

Very helpful and friendly staff, the boat was well equipped and the information was very good. 5 nights on the Charente was a good introduction to river cruising.
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 15 September 2018

Claus Mygind said

This branch of Le Boat (Jarnac) really took good care of the boats. We were very pleased. The staff was very helpful. A fun vacation spot lots to see
Jarnac - Jarnac
Added on 08 September 2018

Christine Mulvanny said

Extremely helpful with the booking process and all related questions. We were a group of eight who got on splendidly, the weather was great and the boat and river were good.
Jarnac - Jarnac
Vision 4