Activities and Leisure in Nouvelle Aquitaine

The Aquitaine region is a great place in Summer. Many towns and villages have fêtes, festivals, concerts, medieval shows, street theaters, outdoor competitions, air shows, spectacular fireworks ...and more! Below (A to Z from left to right) is a sample of the region's main attractions available all year with website links. It is recommended that you first check at the local Mairie notice boards or the local tourist office for the area's Summer events program.

Palaeolithic Lascaux Cave

fr_activity_lascaux_large The Lascaux cave is the finest of all prehistoric painted caves made by Cro Magnons man.
Palaeolithic cave paintings, discovered in a complex of cave in Lascaux (Department of Dordogne, Nouvel Aquitaine, S.W.France). They are paintings of animals, once native to the region of exceptional quality and highly sophisticated; estimated to be up to 20,000 years old. Lascaux is located in the Vézère Valley where many other decorated caves have been found since the beginning of the 20th century (for example Les Combarelles and Font-de-Gaume in 1901, Bernifal in 1902). The Lascaux cave was discovered on 12 September 1940. In 1979, the Lascaux cave and other painted caves of the Vézère Valley were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. But these hauntingly beautiful prehistoric cave paintings are in peril, the carbon dioxide in the human breath soon began to damage the prehistoric paintings of the painted cave. Over 200 archaeologists, anthropologists and other scientists gathered for an unprecedented symposium to discuss the plight of the priceless treasures of Lascaux, and to find a solution to preserve them for the future.
Visits, Bookings and presentations: Website (English):


Water Ski Cableway (Moncontour)

fr_activity_water_ski_cable Cable water skiing, a totally innovative and environment friendly activity which is electricity powered and suitable for both beginners and professionals. Here you will also be able to enjoy water skiing in total safety, and without excess noise and boats: the water skier's cord is attached to a cable and the speed is adapted according to varying levels and styles.
Wakeboard and waterskiing can also be mastered quickly and give quick and satisfying results. The Exo-Active Park is 650m long and offers average speed levels of 30 km/h. Come and learn the joys of water sports in an entirely renovated site which offers you maximum enjoyment. On-site : snack bar, restaurant, and picnic area. Other activities at the Gué Magné Recreation center include: lifeguard monitored swimming by the beach, toboggans, games for children, a fitness trial course, kayaking, beach volleyball, multi-sport terrain, tennis courts, petanque, and fishing.
Address: Téléski Nautique, Lac du Gué du Magne - 86330 Moncontour (Call: 05 49 22 77 98)
Open: from 01/04/2016 to 01/11/2016
April, October, November: weekends and public holidays, 10am-7pm. May, June, September: daily except Tuesday, 1pm-7pm, and 10am-8pm at weekends. July and August: week days 1pm-7pm + weekends.

Website (French @ English):


Zoo and Animal Parks

fr_activity_zoo In the new Nouvelle Aquitaine region (old Poitou Charentes Region) there are a number of protected natural spaces where enthusiastic animators make you share their specific environment and their know-how. You can participate in guided tours, workshops, games, observe the fauna and flora during twilight nature outings, discover exhibitions and shows fr_activity_zoo A privileged opportunity to be closer to nature, with men and women who explain the secrets of wild animals to you and making it a real and natural experience within your reach in the animal parks. From the mysteries of the marine world, with the aquariums, to the wild animals of other countries in the zoos, to the breeding of llamas, deer, deer or ostriches, discover all the fauna while sharing a moment in family. Below is a list of the main Animal Parks and Zoo:
Website (in French but use Google Page Translate for English):


Cognac Activities (Charente)

fr_activity_river There are many activities in and around Cognac. Organised Cognac Adventure for a choice of 1, 2 or 3 days excursions (May to mid-October). ---- Aa 20km walk discovering the history of Cognac and in the heart of vineyards - along the trip, a game of quizz (adults and children) with answers hidden along the labyrinth walk. At the end of the walk you are welcomed to a taste of Cognac's traditional produce. ---- 1:45 hour trips on the river Charente in traditional flat-bottomed boats that once transported towards the sea, barrels filled with water spirits, guns or paper; and in return the salt, fish, spices or coal. The river trip takes you from Cognac in Saint-Brice overlooking the most beautiful shores of Charente rich heritage.
More details and bookings at: Website (English):
Cognac is also a town not only known for its cognac, but also for several fun festivals. The most important festival is La Fete du Cognac, which takes place in early/mid July. Viticulturists, from houses both small and large, introduce their cognacs, and guests can revel in exciting cognac based drinks and a host of local food specialties including oysters, mussels, meats and cheeses. Website (French):
The Blues Passions Festival , a yearly event started in 1993, takes place every summer in and around the town of Cognac, France. Venues are both indoor, such as the Baron Otard castle, and in the parks and open spaces of this beautiful town. Street musicians are also part of this lively festival. Afro-American music is celebrated with artists coming from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere to play and sing for the audiences pleasure. The Cognac Passions prize is awarded each year to an artist from France for their creations and interpretations of the music. The prize is sponsored by the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac). Website (French):


International Circuit des Rempart (Angouleme)

Every year, in September, the town fills with racing enthusiasts for the Circuit des Remparts, the annual gathering of vintage and classic cars. It is 154 km of exhilarating ride through a region rich in history, A diversity of beautiful classic cars charged with history - enjoy the sounds of Bugatti, MG, GN, Frazer Nash and the aero engined Morgans and more. It really is quite a unique experience. Angouleme town becomes a huge museum full of every vintage marque of car you could possibly think of, either sitting in displays of being paraded around the main square (over 300 classic cars). Friday, the weekend begins with a competition of elegance to reward drivers and their delightful and original vintage cars. Saturday follows a rally on the country roads of Charente department in the discovery of the territory Finally, Sunday, sees the town circuit with all vintage cars roaring with the smell and typical old mechanical 4-pistons engine - a delight for vintage car fans! Entrance fees (best book online: from 27€ to 47€ (depending on viewing location, access to the paddock or a numbered seat).

Contact details: ICR - BP 40251 - 16007 Angoulême cedex - FRANCE --- Tel. : (0033) 0 545 94 95 67
Website (French):


Canoe - Kayak in Ruffec (Charente)

fr_activity_canoe_ruffec The Rejallant Ruffec Canoe Club (in Charente)
You can rent a canoe or a bicycle. You can choose your journey, from only 1 hour to several days. Departures are available throughout the day, depending on bookings. Prices include: the rental of the canoe or kayak, the paddle, the waterproof container, the lifejackets and the route of your journey. (Left: Verteuil Castle dominating the village of Verteuil-sur-Charente and the Charente valley. The Charente river is a 381-kilometre (237 miles) long river taking its source in the Haute-Vienne département at Chéronnac, a small village near Rochechouart. It flows through the departments of Haute-Vienne, Charente, Vienne and Charente-Maritime. The river flows into the Atlantic Ocean near Rochefort.
Canoe season starts in May, June and September: weekends from 10am to 7pm.
In July and August: every day from 10am to 7pm. - Website (French):


Aquarium (La Rochelle - Charente Maritime)

A journey into the heart of the Ocean
fr_activity_aquarium_main The largest private aquarium in Europe is in the city centre of La Rochelle. In 3 million litres of seawater, home to everything from fragile jellyfish to fascinating sharks, you can embark on a unique journey to dream and learn about the sea. In the space of two hours, visit the heart of the ocean, set off to see more than 12,000 marine animals, and let us surprise you with the biodiversity of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Tropics.

The audio guide (for adults or for kids) with all its anecdotes... meaning sea life will hold no secrets for you! And for children touring the exhibition, a route designed just for them... so that they can learn like the grown-ups. Each time you visit, check out the new arrivals and our various free exhibitions in the entrance hall. The Mémoires d'Océans gift shop offers an original selection of souvenirs. On the second floor, which can be accessed apart from the paid visit, the restaurant Le Café de l’Aquarium offers a seasonal menu based on organic products, all in a tropical setting.
The aquarium is open all year including public holidays. Free Parking at 400 metres from the site (and 5 mins walk from the train station) Website (English & French):


Charente River Boating

fr_activity_boating_main 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". It is a welcoming, very beautiful river, convenient to navigate quite freely. You will cross soft landscapes and will discover how alders, fennels of water, or the other wild reeds all seized the banks. Doubtless you will spot some kingfishers, grey herons or moorhens too. Fishing Amateurs, carps, trout, pike perches, pikes, eels and many others species populate the Charente, so get to your fishing lines! On this attractive waterway you will cruise through lush countryside where bankside vineyards, sleepy hamlets, Renaissance chateau and Romanesque churches will attract you ashore. There is an offer of a wide selection of canal and river cruisers in the region, so you can find just the right one for your party. Be the captain of your own canal cruiser. No licenses or prior experience required. It really is that easy. You come aboard and you are shown everything you need to know during a briefing and demonstration. Then you're off enjoying your vacation, it's like driving a car, but much easier and more relaxing! On the Charente River there are no lock-keepers and you will operate the locks yourselves. You will find this is fun and not an arduous task.
Below is a few links to boating organisers in the Charente region:
Website (English):
Website (French):
Website (English):


Cycling in the Charente Region

fr_activity_cycling_countryside The Charente has something for all cyclists – whether you want to take a cycling tour through beautiful traditional French villages or simply cycle to the boulangerie for your daily baguette! The gently rolling countryside is a patchwork of fields of bright sunflowers and rows of ripening vines dotted with impressive chateaux. The Charente features over 1000 km of marked mountain bike trails helping you to discover the beautiful countryside of the region. The Mountain Bike routes vary from 6 km to 50 km in length, from 65m to 850m altitude and through a variety of difficulty levels which means that they are suitable for everyone from children up to the experienced off road cyclist! More information at:
Website (English):

Richard Peace, author of Cycling Southern France, has this overview of the options for cycling holidays in Poitou-Charentes, a historic region of France blessed with great beaches, pretty islands and Cognac. This is a very good and informative site with interesting links. No point in duplicating the info; go directly to the website at:
Also, there is a 140 kms of marked tracks through forests between Aquitaine and the Limousin in the Parc Naturel Régional; website: (English):


La vallée des Singes (Valley of Monkeys)

fr_activity_monkeys In proximity of Futuroscope. 350 primates roaming freely on a 15 hectare adapted park and beautiful settings. Visitors have direct contact with the animals, feeding times are very popular with children. The park boasts the largest gorilla group in France and, 30 species among which, you can observe the tiny pygmy marmoset (just 125 grams). Other primates are squirrel monkeys, woolly monkeys, Titi monkeys, white-faced saki monkeys, Gelada baboons, Barbary macaques, lemurs, siamangs, white-cheeked gibbons, colobus monkeys, white-nosed and roloway guenons, mandrills, capuchins, marmosets, golden lion and emperor tamarins and the white-bellied spider monkeys. -- Open from 13th February to 13 November. You can download the dates and opening times from the website (below) Duration of visit 1/2 day to a full day - NOTE: Last entry to parc is 13.30 hrs before parc closure.
Website (English) for details of exhibitions and events at:


Anglers' Paradise Region

fr_activity_big_carp On the left - France record for carp fishing happened in November 2005 at the Rainbow Lake (Lac de Curton, south of Bordeaux) with a 38kg catch (83lbs.), beating the previous record of a 75lbs 11oz carp fished by Leo van der Gugten at the St. Cassien Lake in May 21, 1987.
The fast-flowing rivers and brooks weave a network of tributaries of the Vienne and the Charente. The Goire, Issoire, Or, Argentor, Marchadaine, Bonnieure, Bellonne, Son, Sonnette, Grêne are all first category rivers where it is a delight to indulge in a spot of fishing.The banks of the rivers abound with the remains of an ancestral rural economy and way of life with its humpback bridges, mills, wash houses...
The Charente region has some of the finest rivers in France. You can fish from the banks of the rivers or in the large lakes which abound - the dream of all anglers: huge silure catfish, carp and zander and pike well over 15lb. But these are for the big boys! If you just want less physical effort in winning over your catch then there are trouts, barbel, bream, roach, perch and bleak and you can even catch black bass, sun perch and sturgeon. However, a "Carte de Pêche" (fishing permit) must be purchased from a fishing tackle shop, supermarket or other retailer displaying the sign.
Fishing, Angling locations at the following websites:



fr_activity_camping_main It's a cheap and fun holiday for the family and, best of all, there are approximately 470 cmping/caravaning sites in Poitou Charentes from from 2 to 5 Star ratings - with access to the beach on the Atlantic coast (Charente Maritime); camping with unusual accommodations (yurts, tree houses), ...with water parks ...with covered & heated pools ...with saunas, tobogans, slides, lakesides and riverside sites, sports facilities sites, riding, canoeing - whatever you wish there is a camping/caravan site almost anywhere in the region to suit your particular needs and pocket.
A few related websites:
Website: www.camping.hpaguide.comm/
A 2-Star camping/caravan in Exideuil-ur-Vienne from 11€ low season to €15 high season


Lacs de Haute Charente

fr_activity_lacs_de_haute-charente At Pressignac (Charente) Nature lovers will enjoy an excursion to the Lake District of the Charente region. This pristine area is a paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts. There are two large lakes ideal for boating and water skiing as well as relaxing by the water. Camping, hiking, tree climbing, horseback, cycling, gastronomic discoveries are very popular for the family. Thrill seekers will want to visit the Adventure Park in Massignac, which offers zip lining, bungee jumping, and adventure courses.
Website (English - Google translated):


Equestrian and Pony Trails

fr_activity_horse_main The varied landscape and generous countryside of South West France is ideally suited to horse riding, with it's many shady paths and trails and magnificent green woodland and forests. The quality of facilities and instructors, many multilingual, make it a perfect experience for all ages and abilities. A horse-riding or pony-trekking centre can be found near to most towns, villages and large lakes. The Lacs de Haute-Charente, Lac Pardoux and Lac Vassiviere, all have excellent horse-riding centres. A trot around the lake with a gallop in the water is very tempting on a hot sunny day.Except for January when it is open Monday to Friday (parking on the property). List of a few related websites:


Marais Poitevin

fr_activity_marais_canoeing Along the Atlantic coastline around La Rochelle, this expansive marshland covers an area of 15,000 hectares- it is the largest marsh on the Atlantic coast and the second largest of the whole country (after the Camargue). Extending across three departments (Vendée, Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime). It is situated west of Niort, north of La Rochelle, and south of Fontenay-le-Comte. fr_activity_marais_horses Until the 11th century, this swampy area was part of the sea. As a result of man-made canals and natural channels, the Marais Poitevin developed into an enchanting area WITH a maze of islets criss-crossed by picturesque canals now used for tourist rowboating and nicknamed la Venise Verte (The Green Venice). This special nature reserve has a dreamlike quality and is best discovered by boat. Take a traditional flat-bottomed punt ride through the little streams and waterways, lined by poplar, ash, and alder trees. The surrounding landscape is a patchwork of arable fields, pastureland, and meadows. fr_activity_marais_cycling It is also possible to explore the area by car, horse-drawn carriage, or bicycle. A pleasant bicycle path runs along the river between the villages of La Garette and Le Mazeau, allowing cyclists to take in the scene of typical Marais houses and flourishing meadows.
Opening hours: All days April - May- June - September 10.00-12.30 and 14.00-18.00
October, November and March only with reservation, it's Advisable to reserve for a riverboat with guide.
Website (English):


Hiking... Walking... rambling...

fr_activity_rambling Walking and rambling are extremely popular in this region. Tourist Information Offices have leaflets about all types of walk imaginable based on distance, time and difficulty. They have detailed guides of hundreds of walking routes throughout the the region. Walking routes in Aquitaine offer a remarkably diverse rural landscape. You can experience unforgettable panoramic views stretching out to the horizon, lose yourself in secluded forests or meander along riverbanks. Most trails are accessible by foot, on horseback and by mountain bikes for all the family and you may well come across members of the animal kingdom and rare plants. However, if you wish to discover more about historical places and towns in the area on foot then there are town walks - an ideal way for all the family to find out much more about the intriguing history and architecture of these small towns and villages. If you're serious about walking... Aquitaine region will keep you busy!
Related Websites (English)


Nouvelle Aquitaine

(S.W. Region of France)

Nautilis - Aquatic Park


fr_activity_nautilis_main Full equipment for leisure and sport activities at Nautilus Aquatic Park (including a cardio room and restaurants). This is a large indoor and outdoor water park, with Olympic size pool and lazy rivers, waterslides and diving boards for the children aged from six years old. For the parents, there is a whirlpool, sauna, jacuzzi and solarium. There is also an ice rink. Open all year but with some variations on specific attractions. Ticket price guideline: Children 6-17: from €2, Adults: from €5.

(in French - Use Google Translate page for English):


The Park of Futuroscope

(near Poitiers)

fr_activity_futuroscope_column World famous Parc du Futuroscope is a theme park, with attractions based on multimedia and cinematographic, audiovisual techniques and innovative robotics. It has several 3D cinemas and a few 4D cinemas along with other attractions and shows, some of which are the only examples in the world. It is located in the Department of Vienne, 10 kilometres north of Poitiers. Over 40 millions visitors since it opened in 1987. Futurscope blockbuster's attractions are surprising, thrilling and culturally stimulating. Interactive tours (outdoors and indoors), shows and themes in giant format, night shows, Imax film projected onto a flat screen with an area equal to two tennis courts. Dance with robots (a huge track of dance, ten robots of seven meters high, 3 levels of dance intensity to the choice, electro with lasers and smoke atmosphere. Website (English):





fr_activity_velorail_main A unique trip on an old railway track between Roumazières and Confolens, crossing viaducts, rivers, grassland and forest. Open all year, advance booking required. Three circuits to choose from, no time limit, but starting-point and time of departure to be decided at time of booking. Possibility of access for handicapped people; dogs must be kept on a lead.

From the 1st of july to the 31st of august:
1. Roumazières-Manot and back (15km, 2h roundtrip)
2. Confolens/Ansac/Manot (18 km, 2h15 roundtrip).
Booking and reservation: 05 45 71 16 64


Festival of Confolens

fr_activity_festival_confolens Since 1957, Confolens has held a famous world music and dance festival: Confolens Festival, which attracts 150,000 visitors every summer in August. For a week, all borders are erased and all is colour, passion and sharing. Around 600 artists from all 5 continents and 350 volunteers put on shows connected with the arts and popular traditions of the world. A skilful blend of different cultures sets the town centre alight with folk music and dance rhythms.
Website (in French):


Golf in Poitou Charentes

fr_activity_golf_main With a choice of 20 first class courses in some stunning locations, Poitou-Charentes is a great destination for a French golf holiday or weekend break - a heaven for any golfer willing to play in stunning sceneries. And the temperate climate and long hours of sunshine mean you can play all year round. The joy about playing golf in the Poitou-Charentes is that whatever time of year you play you never experience problems with crowded courses. French golf clubs have a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere with fewer rules than in the UK. Green fees and club hire are attractively priced and you’ll find the dress code less stringent than in the UK. Most of the courses have their own restaurants but most locations abounds in restaurants offering a variety of appetizing meals.
List of Golf courses in Poitou Charentes:


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