Chalais travel guide

Photo of Chalais

Visit Chalais (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France)

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Chalais is a small town in the Charente department of south-west France, about 40 kilometres south of Angoulême.

Explore Chalais

France This Way review: there is not a great deal to see in Chalais, but the castle and the ancient church above the town are impressive buildings that are interesting to see

Narrow street in Chalais town centre

In the town centre you can see numerous stone houses, very typical of the Charentaise region, and including the town hall as one of the most impressive buildings, even if the centre as a whole will not hold your attention for long.

From here you can follow a narrow alley that climbs the hill, starting from the small square with a fountain in the town centre. This walled alley is quite picturesque and leads you directly to the main attractions in Chalais - the church and the castle.

Church Saint-Martial in Chalais

There are several churches in Chalais - the one that is of most interest to visitors is the Church Saint-Martial, at the top of the hill near the castle. Built in the 12th century the church has retained its original romanesque style entrance with stone columns and carved arches.

The church has a painted ceiling in the nave, and an attractive cloister on two levels (not open to the public at the time of our visit).


Chateau de Chalais

The castle is at the top of the hill above the town of Chalais, close to the church. A castle has stood in this location since the 11th century but the current castle is largely a 16th century reconstruction, after the earlier castle was taken down after the Hundred Years War, when the English lost control of the castle.

The castle was bequeathed to the hospices of the town towards the end of the 19th century, who retained ownership until 2011 when it was sold to Yves Lecoq, a French televison personality, who has a passion for restoring old monuments.

Substantial renovation works have been carried out since, including the roofs, the donjon and the chemin de ronde, and the Chateau de Chalais is now open to the public (summer afternoons only, closed mondays).

The entrance with a drawbridge and the interior courtyard are among the highlights of a visit to the castle.

Entrance to castle in Chalais

Attractions nearby

The principal attraction close to Chalais is the village of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, a pretty village with a subterranean church at just ten kilometres from here.

You could also visit the town of Riberac, about 25 kilomeres from Chalais and a traditional French town with a lively weekly market.

You can find more travel ideas in the Charente guide and the Poitou-Charentes guide.

See also Find Chalais hotels

Photos of Chalais

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Visit near Chalais with France This Way reviews

The Subterranean Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean

The Subterranean Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean

The Monolithic Subterranean Church of Saint-Jean in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is a magnificent underground church hewn from the rock.

The Subterranean Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean guide


The attractive village of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is also well known for its imposing troglodyte church

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne guide


Riberac, a quiet and traditional town, is well known for the large market held here each Friday

Riberac guide


Here in the small town of Barbezieux it is the castle that dominates the town, and your visit...

Barbezieux guide


Charmant is another pleasant Charente town, with a small castle and a church as well as the source of the river Boeme

Charmant guide
Chateau de la Mercerie

Chateau de la Mercerie

The Chateau de la Mercerie is a manor house with a substantial wing added in the 20th century, and now recently restored

Chateau de la Mercerie guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Charente

Address: Chalais, Angoulême, Poitou-Charentes, 16210, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 45.2739, longitude 0.04

Plan your visit to Chalais, Charente

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Aubeterre-sur-Dronne: most beautiful village (10 km)
  • Eglise Notre Dame de Faye (Faye): religious monument (24 km)
  • Eglise de Notre Dame (Voulgezac): religious monument (27 km)
  • Logis de Forge: remarkable garden (32 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Pierre (Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps): religious monument (33 km)
  • Jardin du Chaigne: remarkable garden (34 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Cybard (Roullet-Saint-Estephe): religious monument (34 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Estèphe (Roullet-Saint-Estephe): religious monument (35 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Jean-Baptiste (La Couronne): religious monument (38 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Vincent (Puymoyen): religious monument (39 km)
  • Eglise de Notre Dame (Trois-Palis): religious monument (41 km)
  • Eglise de Saint Michel (Saint-Michel): religious monument (41 km)

Market days in Chalais, France

Regular market(s) are held in Chalais each Monday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Chalais (Francais)