Take a pointer from the French on living simple and elegant lifestyles.
Papermakers and bookbinders breathe new life into Montmorillon, the “City of Books.” Artisans demonstrate illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy, and ink-making.
Sweet dreams: Sleep in a charming country inn, Relais du Lyon d’Or, in the nearby village of Angles-sur-l'Anglin.
Pole a flat-bottomed boat through the tree-canopied canals in the Marais Poitevin, nicknamed France’s “Green Venice” for its abundance of duckweed.
Home base: Lodge in Coulon, but venture thirty kilometers east to the 6,000-year-old stone-age burial mounds in Bougon.
The town of Parthenay attracts fans of half-timbered structures. The town’s walled medieval quarter contains 150 tenth-and eleventh-century timbered shops. Sleep like royalty: Book a room nearby at the stately seventeenth-century Chteau de Saint-Loup.
Le Richelieu Thalassotherapy Center, on the sunny Atlantic Isle of Ré, offers natural sea-water spa treatments including salt scrubs, salt-water baths, and algae wraps.
Gourmand’s delight: Oceanside dining at the Richelieu restaurant (one Michelin star).
Cognac’s famous brandy cellars have been darkened over the years by a microscopic fungi that thrives on alcohol fumes. The Charentes river lazes along in this picturesque town.
Taster’s choice: The Hennessy distillery makes cognac from mostly organic grapes.