The Charente village of Mansle is a picturesque place not far from Ruffec off the N10.
It may be small but it’s by no means insignificant. Back in Roman times it was a town of some importance. It’s rumoured to have been named after one of Julius Caesar’s lieutenants, Manlius.
Adding to its impressive history is the fact it was a well known stronghold of the Knights Templar. This religious order of warrior monks was founded originally to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to visit the holy lands in Palestine.
But long before all that lie it’s prehistoric roots with dolmens of all shapes and sizes being found in and around Mansle.
For me, it’s only 10 km away and has everything I need for a quick shop.
Hubby and I often cycle here in the warmer months and stop for a picnic. Only after having picked up a nice fresh baguette of course.
It also happens to have the nearest pizza takeaway, always a bonus in rural France.
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Why you should take the time to discover the Charente village of Mansle?
Mansle has a sleepy charm to it that’s hard to ignore. But don’t be fooled into thinking nothing happens here, au contraire.
As well as being a historic town, it’s also one that showcases French country life as it’s best.
Mansle also has two weekly markets.
We’re lucky to have two weekly markets on a Friday and Saturday. Plus, a local fair on the 25th of each month.
Read this article on Exploring French Markets >>>
After you’ve shopped you can enjoy the pretty town square with a Tabac serving coffee, beer, wine and everything else you’d expect to find.
The perfect place to sit and watch the world go by.
Unfortunately, the main street in Mansle, Rue Grande de Mansle, has been somewhat lacking as far as shops and cafes are concerned. But that seems to be changing.
Now, compared to 7 years ago when we first moved here, it’s positively buzzing, in rural France terms anyway.
We have a rather lovely clothes boutique, gift store, and a shop dedicated to poultry called Au Marché de la Volaille.
Things to do in Mansle, in the Charente
You could be fooled into thinking that there isn’t anything to do in Mansle other than walk around.
Well you’d be wrong. There are a couple of great activities you can do with whole family.
Kayaking down the Charente from Mansle
One of the things we often do with our guests is to take them kayaking on the Charente.
It is so much fun and a great way to see the surrounding countryside.
And as luck would have it, the place to hire your kayaks and canoes just so happens to be in Mansle.
There’s a great campside next door with a bar and they do a great Moules Frite. Fantastic after an afternoon on the river.
What’s really good is you can choose your starting point. We’ve done most of them now and they’ll take you, and your gear, to wherever you want to start off from.
I can’t recommend this enough. Click here for more details >>>
Cycling around the Charente from Mansle
I wouldn’t be without my bike here in France. It really is such a lovely way to get around and see the French countryside.
There are some great cycling tracks you can follow in the Charente.
My suggestion is to pack a picnic and take your bikes out for the day to really make the most of it.
Now, if you don’t have bikes with you then you’ll need to hire them.
You can hire bikes from Bike Hire Direct and they also have lots of great cycle routes you can make use of.
Markets and the Racecourse in Mansle
As I mentioned earlier we have a couple of weekly markets in Mansle along with a night market in the summer.
This link will give you all the details of the Mansle markets >>>
Mansle also has a racecourse called the Hippodrome. Situated right near the campside it’s easy to find, but isn’t used all the time.
Most of the racing happens between June and August.
Best places to eat in Mansle
We’re quite lucky in Mansle to have a few choices of restaurants. And of course, I’ve tried them all.
La Belle Etoile
Every village needs a wood fired pizza restaurant, and La Belle Etoile is Mansle’s.
I’ve been here too many times to count and their pizza is excellent.
It’s one of those places that’s always busy, no matter what the season is.
They have a lovely terrace outside for the summer months and sometimes have life entertainment.
The inside is just as nice and has recently been expanded.
The food is excellent and the value is superb.
We went with my family when they were over and for a group of six the whole bill only came to €150. And we had wine and desserts too.
How do I describe Chez Riffaud? Hmm….unexpected is one word I’d use. It’s one of those fabulous places that could be classed as a wine cellar, a bar, a delicatessen, a restaurant, and a coffee bar.
It’s definitely not what you’d expect to see in a little town in rural South West France.
They have some great entertainment throughout the summer and I just love their little terraced area out the back.
Their hotdogs are to die and they do some great cider in there too.
It’s an eclectic mix of old and new and the perfect place to just hang out for a couple of hours.
You’ll often find me in there living the laptop lifestyle.
Beau Rivage Hotel & Restaurant
French cuisine at it’s best the Beau Rivage is a little more upmarket.
We’ve eaten here and stayed here and love sitting on the elevated terrace looking over the Charente river.
I think my favourite thing about eating here was the cheese trolley. If you’re a cheese lover like me you’ll quite ilterally be in cheese heaven. So much to choose from.
The food is great and although the menu isn’t huge there is enough choice.
We’ve eaten here many time, although I don’t recommend cycling and then eating like we did. The ride home wasn’t easy after food and a glass of wine.
I highly recommend booking, especially if you want to eat out on the terrace.
I’m going to be totally honest here and say it’s not my favourite restaurant.
BUT I’ve only ever been out of season, and I’m assured that in the summer it’s a great place to go.
It has a nice outdoor area to sit in the summer and is opposite the racetrack.
Where to stay in the Charente village of Mansle
There is only one hotel in Mansle and a couple of gites but there is a lot of choice within a 10 minute drive.
I’ve mentioned the Beau Rivage Hotel as a place to eat, but it’s a great option for somewhere to stay too.
We’ve stayed here twice when we were in the process of purchasing our property, and loved it.
The decor is a little dated but the location is superb, and the service excellent too.
I’ve heard great things about La Fontaine des Arts located in the centre of Mansle. It has a lovely pool in the courtyard and offers B&B, or chambre d’hôte as it’s known in France. MAKE A BOOKING >>>
Another B&B with great reviews in Mansle, popular with couples, is No 12 run by Colin and Shane from the UK. The quirky decor is quite a feature and you’ll even find Yorkshire tea on the menu. MAKE A BOOKING >>>
If it’s a gite you’re after then Le Moulin de Mansle is the answer. With riverside views, traditional Charente stonework and beautiful antique furniture it’s a home from home. They also offer bikes for you to use during your stay. MAKE A BOOKING >>>
Other things to do in the Charente, near Mansle
One of the things that makes Mansle the perfect place to stay is its proximity to all the great things there are to do in the Charente.
There is so much you can do all within a 90-minute drive. Mansle sits right off the N10 motorway with Angouleme and Cognac one way and Poitiers and Bordeaux the other.
A visit to the fairytale Verteuil
The Chateau at La Rochefoucauld
The stunning village of Aubeterre sur Dronne
The old cobbled town of Angouleme
La Rochelle on the Atlantic Coast
How to get to Mansle, Charente 16
There are two airports just over an hour from Mansle. Limoges has daily flights to the UK and Poitiers has a couple a week. Bordeaux is just over 90 minutes as is La Rochelle so you’re spoilt for choice.
Mansle has it’s own train station but Ruffec is only 15 minutes down the road and has great links to Angouleme.
Mansle is directly off the N10 motorway making it very easy to get to.
Conclusion: The Charente village of Mansle
Mansle is the perfect base in which to explore the north Charente. It has all the charm you’d expect from a little village in rural France.
Plus, being on the river it gives you those priceless Instagrammable moments, especially if, like me, you fall into the Charente whilst Kayaking.
Come and visit our little slice of paradise and you never know, you might spot me on my blue vintage bike with my wicker basket.