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Rivers further south in Poitou-Charentes

Rivers further south in Poitou-Charentes

With close to 380 or so km total length currently being navigable, it’s not surprising that the Charente is regarded as the real star among the region’s water courses, but it also has an attractive, lesser-known tributary – the Boutonne – which flows for almost 100km through the departments of Deux-Sèvres and Charente Maritime.

tonnay-charente-visit

You’ll find its source in the centre of Chef Boutonne (literally ‘the head of the Boutonne’), not far from one of the earliest and most elegant Renaissance creations in Poitou-Charentes, the Château de Javerzay, now lovingly restored and open to visitors.

A few km downstream lies Brioux-sur-Boutonne, an ancient river crossing-point on the Roman road from Poitiers to Saintes used by pilgrims bound for Santiago de Compostela. By now you’ll be immersed in the area’s peaceful countryside, making your first glimpse of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne’s moated Renaissance chateau even more sensational. It can trace its history back over 1000 years, and today welcomes visitors (in the gardens you’ll find a large, labyrinth-style maze).

Further on the river reaches St Jean d’Angély, a town established by the Romans, with an atmospheric medieval heart to explore and a huge, unfinished Baroque abbey.The river is now looking like the navigable waterway it once was – in recent years the old locks and jetties have gradually been reinstated, so it could soon be possible to take to the water once again.

Then the river reaches the former fortified town of Tonnay Boutonne, and heads through the more obviously wetland landscapes which tell that the coast isn’t far away. Sure enough, between St-Savinien and Rochefort, the waters of the Boutonne join those of the Charente.

Rivers to the North of the Region >>

Close up on Charente territory >>

Getting on the river >>