Brossac is a small town in the south of Charente. It is very pleasant although not exceptional, (although the authors of the excellent website about Brossac might disagree.) Possibly I consider that it is not exceptional in the context of all the places in Poitou-Charentes, in which virtually all the many towns and villages have something to offer. For me, however, it is special because my parents-in-law once owned a house there so we visited quite often. Our children spent their summer holidays there as did my sister-in-law, with her husband and children so lots of happy memories.
Recently (Sept 2012) we popped in and had a stroll around, I took some photos , we enjoyed a mid-day meal at the local restaurant and then drove down to the lake and spent the afternoon in the sun and occasionally the water. For old time’s sake we also drove down to where my parents-in-law’s former house is located. The new TGV line is cutting across directly in front of it. They knew it was on the cards when they lived there but thought the line was going behind their property. I wonder what provision will be made to cross the line. The road from Brossac to St Vallier is only small. Will they build a bridge or a tunnel or do they have level crossings on the TGV line?
It seems that some of the locals have concerns about the new line. There is a blog on Brossac and the TGV (http://brossac.com/.) It is difficult to see that it will bring much benefit to the locals. I understand that one of the main reasons for the construction of the line, which will be complete in 2016, is that it will mean that the journey time from Paris to Bordeaux will be just 2 hours and also it will allow more freight trains to use the existing network. This could mean less lorries on the roads which might benefit locals and certainly the environment. If you are interested in the route there is a website with a reasonable map of the final route at http://www.lgvsudeuropeatlantique.org/cartes-et-projet-technique/cartes-charente
Either side of their old property are vineyards owned by Rene Carre with whom my parents-in-law were good friends. We carried on down to St Vallier to try to locate his outlet with the intention of purchasing some Pineau or Cognac for nostalgic reasons and to pass on to my wife’s mother but we could not find them. It was hot and the lure of a dip in the lake (Etang St Vallier) meant we did not look too hard. He does have a shop in Brossac but that was closed when we passed by. There is now a Spa Club at the far end of the lake with swimming pools. It looked nice enough but to me it seems that if you have a lake why do you need a swimming pool? Perhaps it’s for the winter.
My wife has written a review of the meal we had at the restaurant which was taken on the terrace opposite the church. I took some photos of the shop and the tourist office and a place that I seem to remember was a cafe where my son and my brother-in-law used to hang out, but it seems to be just a private house now. It has a metal horse over the door- was it once a horse butchers, or a blacksmiths? The lake is lovely. There were a few people fishing and about 6 to 10 people on the beach area. During the school holidays it gets busier but it was never too crowded when we went.
It was, as I say, a walk down memory lane, and I hope those members of the family who read this post will enjoy the photos. To everyone else, if you live in the area I am sure you will know the lake and the town and perhaps have sampled the delights of Rene Carre’s labours. He has an excellent website as well http://www.rene-carre.fr/