Angoulême, capital of cartoons and comic strips
Perched on a promontory and bounded by ramparts, Angoulême dominates a meander of the Charente. The white stone houses with tiled roofs give this Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History) a southern feel, its maze of old cobbled streets teeming with life whenever the sun comes out! Saint-Pierre Cathedral – a Romanesque masterpiece – and the town hall, which inherited two medieval towers from the former château of the Counts of Angoulême, are testament to the rich past of a city once home to France’s grandest noble families. Renowned for the extraordinary quality of its paper as far back as the Middle Ages, Angoulême has within the space of a few decades become an essential graphic novel capital, thanks to the international popularity of its famous festival which gets underway in January.
Here, comics can be found on street corners, the city’s famous painted walls, buses and letter boxes, not forgetting its speech bubble street signs! Set off in pursuit of legendary French comic creations such as Boule & Bill, Blake & Mortimer, Titeuf and co. This fun, unique trail will invariably lead you down to the riverbanks to salute Corto Maltese, whose statue can be found proudly standing near the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l'image, which has its own bookshop dedicated to comics. With the likes of the International Comics Festival, the Francophone Film Festival and the Circuit des Remparts race, Angoulême is buzzing all year round. Setting a tone of creativity and innovation, it brings together cartoonists and graphic novelists, 3D animation studios and schools for visual communication.
Urban Angoulême soon gives way to rural Angoulême with cruises on the Charente from Port de L’Houmeau, swimming and water sports on the lake in Saint-Yriex, cycling along the old towpath and climbing in the Eaux Claires valley… Holidays have rarely felt this good! From Angoulême, the Charente can be navigated by houseboat, allowing for delicious stopovers like Trois-Palis to visit the chocolatier’s workshop. Angoulême also serves as a base from which to go back in time to the days of early man – head to La Chaire à Calvin in Mouthiers-sur-Boëme and the Roc de Sers with its parietal art dating back some 20,000 years… In this part of the world, every era is an artistic one!