Situated on the old Roman Road between Angoulême and Bourges, at the confluence of the rivers Vienne and Goire, Confolens was a strategic place since time immemorial. The town developed during the Middle Ages and has a rich, well-preserved heritage covering a thousand years of art and history. The village takes its name from the word ‘confluence’, which is not only relevant to the meeting place of the rivers, but equally of that of the cultures Oc and Oïl (north and south) and more recently, a meeting of cultures and traditions at the Festival Danses et Musiques du Monde. This festival, which was created in 1957 and takes place every year around 15 August, welcomes troupes of dancers and musicians from all over the world who take to the streets in a joyful, festive atmosphere. In the centre of a « Pays d’art et d’histoire (district of art and history) », Confolens is also a « Petite Cité de Caractère (character village) » as is Aubeterre-sur-Dronne. History buffs can enjoy a trip back in time from the Middle Ages to the present day, while sporting enthusiasts canoe down the Vienne and families picnic at Les Roches Bleues before a railbike outing… or a wander around Ancient Gaul !
A stroll through the streets of Confolens is a journey through 1,000 years of art and history. There are several manor houses from different historical periods and splendid half-timbered houses including the ‘Maison du Duc d’Epernon’. The medieval bridges across the Vienne and the Goire lead to other historical districts. Go over the Pont Vieux to see the Fontaine de la Fontorse (fountain) : this 13th century, granite bridge originally had 3 fortified towers and a drawbridge. Confolens comprises three districts around the River Vienne : Sainte-Maxime on the right bank, Saint-Barthélemy on the left bank and Saint-Michel on the hill. Saint-Maxime is the political centre of the town and site of the keep which is all that remains of the old castle. Saint-Barthélemy was the centre for trades and businesses like tanneries. There is a Romanesque church on either side of the Vienne : the ancient priory of Saint Maxime on the right bank has a magnificent rose window at the front. The 12th century church of Saint-Barthélémy has a plain granite front alleviated by sculptures above the portal. In the Saint-Michel district, the 13th century chapel of the Commanderie du Saint-Esprit is one of the rare buildings of the Hospitallers of the Holy Spirit to have survived in France.