In the south of the département lies the river Seugne and its beautiful valley. This historically charged area has Charente Maritime’s largest concentration of Romanesque churches (over 100), scattered among local towns and villages.
Actually three villages combined, Jonzac is the largest of the southern towns. It’s dominated by a huge 15th century chateau rising sheer from the bedrock, its rounded towers overlooking the river. The chateau is now the town hall, and in summer there are guided tours in English. It’s worth taking a tour of the entire town – ask the tourist office for a map in English – which takes in underground alleys, Romanesque architecture and a covered market designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Tower fame.
Get great views of the Seugne Valley from this attractive town on one of the main pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. You can’t miss the 12th century donjon (castle keep) in typically Romanesque style. Stand on the ramparts and gaze at the river below, then explore the narrow medieval streets, with their turrets and arches, which wind their way down the hill. The Pilgrim’s Hospital is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you fancy a swim in Jonzac Les Heurtebises is an open-air lake with a beach, plus plenty of places to picnic and activities for children. A little further on is the much bigger Les Antilles de Jonzac - a huge aqua park and spa.
22 place du Château
+33 (0)5 46 48 49 29 www.villedejonzac.fr
Pons: 1 rue du Pontils
+33 (0)5 46 96 13 31 www.pons-tourisme.fr