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The hub of the town is place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville. The town hall was erected from 1858 to 1866 on the site of the palace of the ducs d'Angoulême, where Marguerite de Navarre, sister of François I, was born. All that remains of the palace are the 15th-century Tour de Valois and 13th-century Tour de Lusignan.

Cathédrale St-Pierre, 4 place St-Pierre (tel. 05-45-38-29-81), was begun in 1128 and restored in the 19th century. Flanked by towers, its facade boasts 75 statues, each in a separate niche, representing the Last Judgment. This is one of France's most startling examples of Romanesque-Byzantine style. The 19th-century architect Abadie (designer of Sacré-Coeur in Paris) tore down the north tower and then rebuilt it with the original materials in the same style. In the interior you can wander under a four-domed ceiling. It's open Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm, Sunday 10am to 6:30pm.

Angoulême is the European capital of the cartoon industry, with strong historical and creative links to many of the pop-art and cartoon themes that are part of the French cultural experience. The art form's focal point is the Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l'Image, 121 rue de Bordeaux (tel. 05-45-38-65-65; www.cnbdi.fr), which has a museum devoted to famous (and usually original) cartoons and their creation, a cafe, a library, a bookshop, and creative people who come here for insights into the entertainment industry. It's open in July and August Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday 2 to 7pm; and September to June Tuesday to Friday noon to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 2 to 6pm. Entrance costs 6€ for adults, 4.50€ for students, free for children 17 and under.

Finally, you can walk along the panoramic promenade des Remparts, a path that flanks the site of the long-gone fortifications that once surrounded the historic core of Angoulême. The most appealing section of the 3km (1 3/4-mile) walkway is the 1km (2/3-mile) section that connects the cathedral with Les Halles (the covered market). Views from here stretch over the hills that flank the River Charente almost 75m (246 ft.) below.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.