Just to break up the journey I decided to head South and explore a new site, again owned by CCP, but intriguingly in the grounds of a chateau built as a stronghold to watch over the river Charente.
We had few neighbours and those who were there kept themselves noisily to themselves. What did surprise me about this aire was that it included showers, toilets and washing facilities. Again, I’m guessing that it’s the remains of an old Municipal.
The aire is within the grounds of the chateau and castle. Perched high on a rock, it was strategically important in the defense of the Charente river and seat of power of the Charente-Maritime region.
Richard the Lionheart destroyed the castle itself in 1179. Geoffrey de Rancon, master of the house, may have died in this action, but he is also listed as having participated in the Third Crusade in the Itinerarium Regis Ricardi and appears as a witness to Richard I’s peace treaty with Tancred of Sicily in Messina on 6 Oct 1190. In 1173, Richard had fought against his father in alliance with his brothers and the King of France, Louis. This uprising had failed, and as punishment, Richard was sent to bring the rebellious lords to heel. This conflict lasted five years, ending in the victory of Richard and his destruction of the supposedly impregnable fortress of Taillebourg.
This castle was inaccessible on three sides, protected by mountains, and the fourth side was heavily fortified. Richard knew that the overthrow of Taillebourg would lead to the immediate surrender of the barons, and captured the stronghold in his first great military victory.
A brief walk up a grassed ramp brings us first to the gates of the chateau. As we passed through the gates we were met with a wall of sound as the local childcare centre was dispensing its contents onto the cobbles and the noise of their joyful release echoed around the stone buildings of the chateau. A path around the main house brought us directly to the ruined castle tower and the fabulous views over the town and the deep swirling currents of the river Charente.
Once we drank our fill of the view, we retraced our steps, heading down into the red pantiled roofs of the town below. Services are minimal apart from the obvious boulangerie, patisserie and tabac.
Further information: Camping CarParks, rue des Prés du Vivier 17350 Taillebourg N45°49’57.7″ W0°38’47.9 €12/24h