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Talk of the Town - Rouillac

Talk of the Town - Rouillac

In each issue we highlight a town in the region to help you get to know the area. Here we visit Rouillac in Charente…

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This charming small town owes something of its success today to the fact that it lies equidistant between the Charente’s two main towns, Angoulême and Cognac – it is 22km from each. But its past popularity lay in its strategic position on the east-west Agrippa Way, linking Lyon to Saintes. Indeed, the town’s name comes from a wealthy Romano-Gallic man called Rullus whose lands extended to the nearby site known as Les Bouchauds. This is where the Romans built baths and also a substantial theatre whose remains visitors can see today. In later centuries the town also benefited from the fact that it lay on another ancient way, the Poitou section of the north-south route linking Paris to Spain. Later Rouillac was to be overshadowed by its neighbour Saint- Cybardeaux. However, after the Revolution of 1792, it became the main town for the local canton and the rule of Napoleon III in the middle of the 19th century was something of a golden age here, linked especially to the cognac industry. A number of its fine residential homes date from around this period. This era of prosperity was checked by the phylloxera infestation that devastated many of the country’s vineyards from the 1870s. But today the Rouillac area is still noted for its vineyards and agricultural production, as well as its stunning scenery; the drive from Rouillac to Saint-Genis-d’Hiersac is well worth it just for the view. And unlike a number of towns in the region its population level has remained stable for many decades.

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MARKET

The town has regular markets on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at Place Thiers. But what Rouillac is really renowned for is its hugely popular day-long foire held on the 27th of each month. This particular date has been in place for two centuries and is so important locally that the town’s modern cultural and leisure centre is called Le Vingt-Sept in its honour. The foire itself attracts visitors and stallholders alike from across the region and is held throughout the town. Its roots probably go back to ancient times when horse sales and fairs were held there. A statue of the goddess Epona has been found in the commune – she was a Romano-Gallic deity who was said to protect horses and donkeys.

 

SCHOOLS

Rouillac has a nursery school, a junior school and a collège.

 

TRANSPORT

Though set in the middle of countryside, Rouillac is reasonably well-connected. The easiest regional airport to get to is probably Poitiers, which is about a 90 minute drive, though La Rochelle airport is a similar distance away. The TGV can be taken from Angoulême which means that Paris is just 2 hours 20 minutes away by train. The town is also handily placed for roads – the main A10 motorway is about 50 minutes away, while the coast is about 90 minutes by car.