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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

Where to find Fish and Chips in the Charente region of Rural France

If I had to pick one dish that I’d say is quintessentially English, other than a good old roast dinner, it would have to be fish and chips.

Now I’ve lived all over the world and I can say with some certainty that nobody does fish and chips like the English do.

When I lived in Australia in the fabulous city of Melbourne we had a chippy down the road. But although it was far healthier than its English counterpart, it was nowhere near as tasty. You see the Aussies don’t tend to use batter, their fish is breaded. And not a pickled egg or gherkin in sight.

But here in our little slice of rural French heaven in the Charente we’re almost spoilt for choice.

Fish and Chips with Mr T's in the Charente

The first option, and in my opinion the most fun, is the fabulous Mr T’s Fish & Chip Van run by husband and wife team Karen and Tony. Their van travels to quite a few locations around the Charente and Charente Maritime. The nearest to us is in a tiny little village called La Chapelle, about a 30 minutes drive away from us.

By the banks of the river and completely hidden away from sight is a French Bar called La Chaumière. It’s run by Jean Michel and Natalie and that’s where you’ll find Mr T’s van.

It’s a stunning location and the perfect setting for eating fish & chips out of the box. You can sit overlooking the river, drinking rose and enjoying the sunset. It really is idyllic.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve indulged. Sometimes we go on our own and sometimes we take friends or guests staying with us. And of course our neighbours love to go with us too.

And the lovely thing is we now know most of the people who go. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only the English who go, because it’s not. My neighbour Stefan and French friend Anne get quite miffed if we go without them. They both love fish & chips. In fact, there aren’t many English dishes they don’t like.

And speaking of Stefan, it turns out that Jean Michel, the owner of La Chaumière, knows Stefan really well. Apparently he used to play in a band for a restaurant owned by Stefan’s parents, back in the day. Small world.

Live music on the Charente River

Now the reason I mention this is because more often than not fish & chips isn’t the only thing on the menu at La Chaumière. You see Jean Michel still loves to play guitar. He doesn’t need much encouragement to provide some live music to accompany our fish & chips. And naturally, if Anne is with me, we can’t help but get up and dance under the stars. Such a great way to finish off the evening and burn off our fish and chips.

The Chip Shop at Confolens

Next up we have The Chip Shop situated in the beautiful mediaeval market town of Confolens. And here’s a little piece of trivia for you. Because Confolens sits on either side of the confluence of the Vienne and Goire rivers, that’s how it derived its name.

The Chip Shop, as the name suggests, isn’t a van, it’s a traditional English fish & chip shop run by Mandi and Chris. The first time hubby and I went it was back in 2018 and was a beautiful sunny February day. Being a Saturday, and with the weather so unseasonably warm, we’d decided to go exploring around where we lived.

Usually when we did this it involved a map and a pin. However, for some reason this time I had already made up my mind that I wanted to go to Confolens. I think it was because I’d heard good things about it and been told about the fish & chip shop.

Well I wasn’t disappointed.

Why you should visit Confolens

Confolens is such a pretty place you’ll need your camera at the ready as it’s highly Instagrammable. Like so many of these towns in this part of rural France, its full of history and gorgeous old buildings with stories to tell.

It’s fortress and city walls date back to the 11th century, and it’s thirteenth century courthouse boosted the town’s level of importance.

Unfortunately all the shops were shut when we got there as we arrived bang smack in the middle of lunch. And as we all know, everything stops for lunch in France, quite literally.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since living in France is you can’t hurry the French through lunch. Usually the shops will shut for around 2 hours somewhere between Midday and 2.30pm. And as we arrived around 1pm so it was lunch or nothing.

It wasn’t hard to find the fish & chip shop as you could smell it cooking from pretty much the minute you started walking into town. But it was the location that really took my breath away.

The chippy itself is situated on a corner plot right by a bridge going over the river. And on a nice day, which this was, you could sit outside looking at the river whilst indulging in your fish & chips. And to complete the whole thing they even sell wine to wash it all down.

Fish & Chips in Verteuil Sur Charente

Finally, in our Fish & Chip Charente round up we have the blue Fish & Chip Van in the square in Verteuil. It’s there on most Friday nights and Le Bistrot Des Douves, a local bar, provides the cutlery and condiments. Plus a great selection of wine and beer.

Verteuil is probably the most sought after village in our area of the Charente for Brits. Everything about it is picturesque with the Charente river running through. But for me it’s definitely the fairytale Château, The Château de Verteuil, dating back to 1080 that is the standout.

Historically, for 1000 years it has belonged to the La Rochefoucauld family. However, in 2021 the family sold to Austrian businessman Georg Thaler. Unfortunately, the château is no longer open to the public, but you can still admire it from afar.

Why you should visit Verteuil

There is always something happening in Verteuil and you could probably be out most evenings if you wanted to. Not to mention it has a couple of rather nice restaurants, and a bar that looks right out over the Chateau.

It’s very much a favourite haunt of ours. I’ve often been guilty of hitting the karaoke in Le Bistrot Des Douves after book club, which unfortunately disbanded not long after Covid hit. In the summer they host quiz nights in the square which are always fun.

Sometimes at the end of a long week we head to Verteuil for a carafe of rose and portion of fish & chips. It goes down a treat.

So if ever you’ve wondered how we survive in rural France without fish & chips, the simple answer is that we don’t.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, there are some things an English girl just can’t do without, and fish & chips is definitely one of them.

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