The history of Confolens is a fascinating story of trade, industry and travel. A beautiful medieval market town, built either side of the confluence of the Vienne and Goire rivers, (hence its name), Confolens became hugely important in South West France.
With Romanesque churches, an eleventh-century fortress with city walls, thirteenth-century courthouse, the bridge across the river, mentioned as far back as the fourteenth century, half-timbered houses from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries and the nineteenth-century administrative buildings, the story of the history of Confolens is told throughout the town.
The town of Confolens grew in importance because the Vienne is the only river that flows north in France. Trades, transport and tanneries utilised the natural route and the original Roman bridge was the only way to cross to the other side, putting the town firmly on the map. So popular was the route, the volume of traffic (men animals, carts and merchandise), caused many tailbacks and traffic jams!
Trade, tanning and transport may have been important in the development of the town but are not all that Confolens has excelled at. The courthouse dating from the thirteenth century indicates the importance of the town within the judicial system. In the nineteenth century, it was the centre for agriculture for the whole region and Confolens remains an important administrative centre for the Charente region today.