Ruffec is only 20 minutes away from where we live and we sometimes go there but always just for shopping invariably outside the centre. It has a huge Leclerc and it has a selection of out of town places where you can buy carpets or curtains or tins of paint and other really exciting things. It also has or had Monsieur Barraud who did lots of jobs on our house in the early days of our ownership. Many a morning I would set off early to catch Monsiuer Barraud before he departed to whatever job they were doing that day, to arrange for a set of stairs to be installed or a door to be knocked through from the front of the house to the barn section in the back.
Loc. Ve. Mat was or is his operation and it’s situated on the road out of Ruffec towards the N10.
Consequently we have never really done a tourist type visit – well only once and even then we were trying to find a gym. This is tucked away somewhere beyond the swimming pool and in my opinion it’s not that good, certainly not compared to your average municipal gym in GB. Gyms are not really that popular in rural France – perhaps they are more persuaded by cycling as a way of keeping fit.
Parking is an issue in Ruffec. There is no real car park as such that we could find, but there are spaces everywhere throughout the central part of the town. This could be described as convenient but only if you manage to find a space. On our visit someone just pulled out in front of us and we slotted in so it was convenient. However had that not happened it might have been more of a problem as spaces were few and far between. The parking makes the central area look quite cluttered. They have a pleasant square with water and fountains and plants and it all becomes a bit of a mish mash with no space to stand and stare. There are lots of little shops and cafes and restaurants and it is really quite lively- at least it was on a sunny day in June. We bought two ‘T’ shirts for our grandson from one shop and I got a new pair of sandals from one of the shoe shops. In both places the service was excellent; not too pushy, not inattentive , just the right balance not to put you off and allowing you to make a purchase in your own time.
We parked just opposite the covered market called Halle de Noix. It was not open as we went on Friday and the markets are on Wednesday and Saturday. Initially we just roamed around the central area and I photographed the main square and some of the shops. The light was difficult as it was a bright sunny day so there was lots of contrasting bright areas and dark shady areas. They have some nice paintings on the little boxes around the square which I am informed hide waste bins, they must be expecting a lot of waste in Ruffec as there are quite a lot of them.
Then we made our way downhill towards the river. This is also the way to the church, L’Eglise Saint-Andre, normally described in tourist literature as 12th to 15th century. Presumably it did not take 300 years to build it and it was added to or changed in the 15th century. It is typical Romanesque style with the big arched doorway and evidently depicts the ascension in the carvings on its façade.
Just down from the church you come to the River Lien which is quite picturesque but it did have a bit of a whiff of detergent/sewage which probably accounted for the quite large amount of algae and weed growing in the water. I suspect that by August when the water will have warmed up and the flow will have reduced it could be quite choked up.
Along the bank were some fairly impressive plane trees and half a dozen ducks enjoying the sun. There is also quite a large lavoir, but I am not sure I would want to wash my clothes in that water. In case you were not sure where you were there was some graffiti explaining that this is Ruffec and the Northern quarter. (see slide show)
Just behind the lavoir is the local cinema and close by is the Chateau and la ville ancienne. We walked up a little way to a big house, with some fairly impressive gates but it was all closed up and I am not sure it really merited Chateau status. However you do get a nice view across the town and there were some nice flowers growing out of the wall of number 7.
Campanulas growing from the wall of number 7
We then followed the signs for the ancienne ville, and although I am not sure that we found it. Most of Ruffec is quite old so it is difficult to separate it out. The tourist guide mentions narrow streets and partly wooden fronted houses and there were narrow streets so perhaps we did find it.
Narrow street…. ancienne quarter?
I found Ruffec to be quite charming. It is not mega. It is just a cluster of shops, some restaurants, a square, a church, a river, a lavoir and possibly a chateau and it was sunny and the people were nice. We had a good meal at Le Bistro Central and we booked up to go to a restaurant called Aux Choeurs de Bacchus for Saturday night. It’s Saturday today and the owner said he would reserve one table outside and one inside so we could choose depending on the weather. I think it will be inside.
To see photos and words of wisdom? on other towns and villages in Poitou-Charentes click https://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com/villages-and-towns/
To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos