The Charente, Segonzac and Around

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Tuesday we packed up in Paris, and went over to Montparnasse to catch our train to Angeloume. The train strike had been called to begin that evening, which I suspect contributed to the crowds at the station, with people changing their plans to avoid the possibility of cancelled or delayed trains. As we were in the vicinity of Orleans, Larry was following along with Google Maps, and noticed huge delays on the highway. We later learned that floodwaters had led to highway closures, with many drivers diverted or stuck. The train sounded better and better.

In Angeloume we picked up our little rental car at the station, and drove the 40 minutes to our gite in Segonzac, in the midst of the Cognac area. Segonzac is a small town, but does have two boulangeries/patisseries, 2 restaurants, and a grocery store. Our gite is a five minute drive from town, along a curving stretch of road bisecting vineyards. It’s charming and perfect for two people, with the owners cats stopping by. We settled in, got a few things from the grocery, and had cheese and bread for dinner.

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Wednesday we first drove the short distance into Jonac to go to the covered market, which turned out to be barely open, just two vendors. So 15 minutes later we were in Cognac, where the market was livelier (though still with many closed vendor areas, I was told Tuesday, Friday and Saturday are the big market days). Bought produce, a local chevre,  and some good looking sausages. We walked around Cognac for a bit. There’s a pedestrian shopping district, a few small museums, and several large cognac distillers to visit. On a grey, cold June it was slow moving, I suspect things are  busier in the summer.

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For lunch, we went to a place the gite owners had recommended for an inexpensive nearby set lunch. In the pretty village of Criteuil La Magdeline, A Delices du Terroir was full with a biking group, but the smiling owner set us up on the patio. The food was homestyle cooking, nothing earth shattering, but at 12 euros for a three-course meal including wine and coffee, eaten on a patio under a 11th century church belltower, who argues?

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We drove around a bit exploring. One of the loveliest villages we encountered was Ligniere-Sonnwville, set alongside a stream, with 17th century chateau now turned into the town hall, a 11th century church with a carving on the tryptich shows the Three Kings, the old washhouses for processing the linen that was grown and woven in town, a sunken garden, and a little linen museum, sadly closed.

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We poked around a few of the other villages, finding more Romanesque churches among the vineyards, fields of poppies, and then…a Neolithic dolmen, sitting among the vines in Saint-Fort-sur-le-Ne. The stones have been dated to 3000 BC, and the top stone weighs 400 tons.

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Back at the gite I cooked lentils with sausages (no photo, since lentils and sausages taste wonderful but are hardly pretty), we enjoyed dessert from the patisserie, and slept comfortably. One of these days the sun will come out again!

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