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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
Pons (pronounced without the ‘s’) is one of France’s best kept secrets. The town is located slightly further inland, about an hour’s drive from the nearest beach of Royan. Pons is a very small medieval town, but is incredibly peaceful, with a river, a ‘donjon’ and a few shops and restaurants. I have visited Pons numerous times, and every time I can’t help but fall in love with the countryside, the rolling hills and the quaint town surrounded by other small towns. The ‘donjon’ is a keep (fortified tower) which is built at the centre of the town, and as you are driving in, you can notice the top of the donjon from miles away. The views from the top of the keep are breathtaking as you can see for miles across the town and the countryside.
At night the main square is lit up, with the donjon, the ‘hotel de ville’ (town hall) and two restaurants, it is a very calm and relaxing place to be! With the town consisting of two boulangeries (bakeries), a few restaurants, a supermarket and various other amenities such as a pharmacy, a tabac shop (to buy newspapers, cigarettes etc) and a few schools, this town offers all you could possibly need without the hustle and bustle of the city. From the main town, you can take the great staircase ‘Le Grand Escalier’, built in the 17th century in order to give easier access to the ramparts of the town, and you are able to follow the signposts for an easier route around Pons. Close to the town of Pons, you will encounter a roundabout, with statues of pilgrims, and this is because Pons is positioned on the pilgrim route named ‘Via Turonensis’ which begins in Paris and goes through western France and Spain to ‘St Jacques de Compostelle’. The original Pilgrims hospice can be seen here, and it is a 12th century building, which is part of the UNESCO heritage sites, and therefore is protected.
The other towns nearby are called Jonzac and Cognac. Jonzac is 17km from Pons, and offers the sights of a small castle – the ‘chateau de Jonzac’, which was built in the 15th century, and many other monuments as well as the roman style church named ‘Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais’. It is best known as a spa town. In recent years, a leisure complex has been built in Jonzac with an indoor beach, a lagoon and waterfalls. The complex is called ‘Antilles de Jonzac’ and sounds like a dream!
Furthermore, the next town is named Cognac, which is 36km from Jonzac. Some of you may be familiar with the name, as it is a famous brandy name. The region produces the brandy Cognac worldwide and you are able to visit the distilleries, museums and vineyards. In Cognac, there is a new and an old town therefore you can choose between the lively or quieter lifestyle. In the new town, you will find shops, restaurants and cafes in medieval cobble streets, whereas in the old town there is a castle which you are able to see from the river Charente. Often, in the summertime, there are boat tours in barges, which enable you to fully appreciate the beautiful town and its history.
IMAGE 1 - personal image, the view from the top of the donjon, Pons.
IMAGE 2 - The donjon, Pons.