Charente (river)

The Charente (French: [ʃaʁɑ̃t] (listen); Occitan: Charanta [tʃaˈɾantɔ]) is a 381-kilometre (237 mi) long river in southwestern France.[1] Its source is 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.

Charente à Tonnay.jpg
The Charente in Tonnay-Charente
La Charente et ses affluents principaux.png
The Charente and its main tributaries
Native nameCharanta (Occitan)
Physical characteristics
 • locationHaute-Vienne
 • location
Atlantic Ocean
 • coordinates
45°57′24″N 1°4′56″W / 45.95667°N 1.08222°W / 45.95667; -1.08222Coordinates: 45°57′24″N 1°4′56″W / 45.95667°N 1.08222°W / 45.95667; -1.08222
Length381 km (237 mi)
Basin size10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi)
 • average40 m3/s (1,400 cu ft/s)


The Charente was described by the French king François I as 'the most beautiful river in the kingdom', and was navigable in its natural state until mills were erected at many locations in the 14th century.[2] Some locks were built but through navigation remained impossible for centuries. Improvements to the navigation were projected under Louis XVI in 1772, but work was interrupted by the Revolution. The project was revived under the Restoration and canalisation completed in 1835. The waterway was abandoned in 1957. The départements took over operation in 1963, and recreational vessels have now taken possession of the waterway throughout the 164 km to the town of Angoulême.

The historic towns of Cognac, Jarnac, Saintes and Rochefort make the river a popular destination for boaters, mainly in rental boats, with moorings provided at most towns and villages along the route. The locks are 34.8 by 6.5 metres (114 by 21 ft).[3]


Tributaries include the rivers Antenne, Boëme, , Coran, Seugne, Bramerit, Boutonne, Arnoult, Touvre and Bonnieure.[1]

The river Boutonne is navigable over a distance of 31 km to Saint-Jean-d'Angély, but a barrier at the confluence prevents access except under exceptional conditions.

En routeEdit

Towns and villages include Vergeroux, Soubise, Rochefort and Tonnay-Charente on the tidal river, and Saint-Savinien, Taillebourg, Saintes, Cognac, Jarnac, Saint-Simon and Angoulême on the navigable river, while Montignac-Charente and Civray are on the river's upper course.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Sandre. "Fiche cours d'eau - La Charente (R---0000)".
  2. ^ Edwards-May, David (2010). Inland Waterways of France. St Ives, Cambs., UK: Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-846230-14-1.
  3. ^ Charente (amont et aval), Fluviacarte

External linksEdit