There is no doubt that France is beautiful, but unlike some of the more commercialised areas, Charente in the South West of France is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.
With countless hours of sunshine and rich history, Charente is very much part of the rural French countryside.
But where should you stay?
Filled with a multitude of traditional, modern and cosy guest houses and bed and breakfasts, there is no shortage of places to stay in Charente.
In this article, I’m helping you figure out your Gite from your Table d’Hotes, and sharing some of our favourite Charente, France bed and breakfasts.
The Differences Between a Gite, Chambre d'Hotes, and Table d'Hotes
If you’re in the market for a French getaway, you’ll see some words floating around, and if you’re not fluent in the language, this can make things rather tricky.
Luckily we’re here to help you figure out your Gite from your Table d’Hotes so you book the type of stay you’re looking for.
First up is a Gite. It’s a short-term self-catering accommodation property – usually a house or flat. Think about the type of place you’d rent if you were looking on Airbnb.
Although most gites are self-catering, with facilities to make your own meals, there might be extra services provided by the property owner, such as clearing or booking activities.
However, this will very much be dependent on individual properties and is something you should look into if you require it.
The self-catering aspect means that you might save some money upfront, and can cook meals to accommodate all the family – which will be cheaper than eating every meal out.
Plus, you’ll usually have the whole space to yourself, so it’s like a home away from home.
However, if you’re looking to step away from the hustle and bustle of life and have someone take over cooking for some meals, it might not be the best option.
You’ll also have to look into local supermarkets or grocery stores and might need a car to cart the shopping back for cooking.
Although, for me, part of the pleasure of coming to France is exploring their local markets and supermarkets and making some traditional French dishes such as beef bourguignon, mussels in white wine sauce, and tarte tatin.
However, I totally understand that if you’re visiting for a holiday, you’ll want to put your apron down and avoid the kitchen!
B. Chambre d'Hotes
Next up is a Chambre d’Hotes, which is the French equivalent of a bed and breakfast or a guest house.
It’s usually run by the owners of the home that you stay in and will include an overnight stay and breakfast in the morning. A chambre d’hotes can hold up to 15 guests over 5 bedrooms, so you’ll likely be sharing the space with other families (unless you need all the rooms).
Many people love staying in a guest house as you get an authentic experience, usually run by locals. This means you get insider knowledge into the area, and you don’t need to worry about making your own breakfast.
However, as you’ll be sharing the space with other families, there is less privacy, and the lack of usable kitchen facilities makes the stay a little flexible.
You’ll probably have to eat most of your lunch and dinners out, which will have to be budgeted into your stay.
C. Table d'Hotes
And finally, you’ve got the option of staying in a Table d’Hotes, but with the addition of dinner. However, there are some restrictions, as the meal must be served at the family dinner table with a restricted menu (i.e. there is no choice).
Again, if you’re looking for an authentic experience, and want to avoid thinking about what to cook for every meal, then this might be an excellent option for you.
But, it offers very little flexibility, and you’ll be sharing the space with other guests and the owners – so if you want a private get-together, it might not be right for you.
The Best Places to Stay in Charente, France
So, now for the good part – some of our favourite places to stay if you’re making the journey to the beautiful Charente, France.
This is a classic Chambre d’Hotes – or a bed and breakfast, as you might call it. It’s located 10 minutes drive away from Logis de la Villatte and includes views over the stunning River Vienne.
Each room comes equipped with a private bathroom, featuring a bath, separate toilet and a shower, and a beautifully decorated room finished with a stone fireplace to keep you cosy in the cooler months.
You’ll be treated to a full English breakfast each morning, which will set you up for the day ahead, which might be pretty full considering the property offers a range of activities, including hiking, horseback riding and cycling. You can even grab a game on the tennis courts.
Pricing will vary depending on the time of year, but we checked a date in July (Sat 1st – Sun 2nd), and it was coming in at £66 per night for two people in a double room.
This cosy traditional guest house is guest house is located close to the Vienne Valley circuit, and comprises three guest rooms.
Although their rooms are equipped with all the modern amenities, they’ve tried to preserve the authenticity of the area, using regional materials and local craftsmen to renovate the rooms.
One of the main selling points of Les Galaines is that they have a terrace with a 5-person spa, gas barbecue, and dining area – ideal if you want to eat al fresco.
As they’re on the border of Charente, Vienne and Haute-Vienne, there are multiple different activities within 40km of the guest house, including hiking, cycling or horse riding.
Prices vary, but one night for two people from the 1st-2nd of July is 78 euros.
13 Bees is another Chambre d’Hotes, set over a stunning 13 acres, with over 130 different types of trees and a wildflower meadow – it’s a nature lover’s paradise.
Their website says that you can expect “a weekend house party atmosphere from the moment you arrive -think Downton Abbey without the stiff collars!”
Each of the four guest rooms has recently been refurbished by local artisans, so you can expect modern, comfortable decor and a private en-suite.
But the pièce de résistance comes in the form of their beekeeping experiences designed to give you an insight into the world of bees – with multiple different experiences available.
Again, prices will vary throughout the year, but we checked a date in July (Sat 1st – Sun 2nd), and it was between 71 and 75 Euros for a double room.
Slightly different from the others on the list as this is actually a gite.
However, it’s also vegan friendly making it quite an unusual option here in rural France.
It’s located just outside the gorgeous village of Tusson in the heart of the north Charente.
Nick and Jen the owners, offer a vegan breakfast twice a week. Plus, they’ll do you a picnic filled with vegan goodies.
They’ll ensure you have plenty of vegan supplies for your visit as it is notoriously hard to find what you want in this area in France.
It’s been beautifully renovated to a high spec with no detail left unaccounted for.
It’s luxury at it’s best with the added bonus of a swimming pool for those hot days.
- 1 April – 30 April and 1 October – 31 October €150 – 2 night minimum stay €150 per night/€1050 per week
- 1 May – 2 June and 16 September – 30 September €225 – 3 night minimum stay €225 per night/€1575 per week
- 3 June – 15 September – 7 night minimum stay €325 per night/€2275 per week
And last but certainly not least is Domaine Des Etangs, which was ranked as one of the top hotels in France by Condé Nast Traveller 2022. This Château is a storybook castle, nestled amongst tranquil ponds and landscapes.
The idyllic views are matched only by the unforgettable accommodation with options for guestrooms, suites and cottages – depending on the size of your party.
They also offer a farm-to-table restaurant, using only the freshest seasonal produce that is handpicked daily in the estate’s organic garden.
Definitely a more high-end option than some of the others on our list, ideal if you want a little pomp and circumstance on your holiday.
Pricing depends on room options, and there is a two-night minimum stay, but the rooms are around 1,120 euros per night – making it the most expensive option on the list by far. Worth it, though!
Where to stay in the Charente…
There are loads of beautiful places to stay in Charente that offer something a little different from the hustle and bustle of the larger French cities.
No matter which one you choose to stay in, you’re sure to have a beautiful, authentic experience in rural France.