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Places to visit
The Poitou-Charentes region
The Poitou-Charentes region Poitiers and the Futuroscope The Poitou-Charentes region
The Poitou-Charentes region
The Poitou-Charentes region Niort and the Marais Poitevin
The Poitou-Charentes region La Rochelle
Saintes
Cognac
Royan
Angoulême The Poitou-Charentes region
The Poitou-Charentes region
The Poitou-Charentes region
Click on the map or scroll down to see information about each of these locations

Poitiers
Once the ancient capital of Poitou, Poitiers is now the main town in the Poitou-Charentes region, and is situated on a rocky promontory that has been occupied for over 2000 years.

Items of interest include in Poitiers include:

  • The Baptistery of St-Jean, started in the 4th-century AD and one of the oldest Christian structures in France. It contains a fine set of 12th and 13th-century murals.
  • The Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-La-Grande with its intricately carved west-front depicting scenes from both the Old and New Testaments.
  • The panoramic view of the old town from Les Dunes.
  • The Sainte-Croix museum showing the history of the Poitou region from prehistoric times up to the present day.
  • The rose garden and botanic garden of the Parc du Blossac.

The Futuroscope
A crystal formation with mirrored sides, a huge sphere set into a sloping glass surface and a translucent cube - just some of the futuristic buildings to be found at The Futuroscope.

The Futuroscope is a hi-tech environment giving visitors a chance to experience breathtaking adventures on land, sea and even into outer space. Using the latest projection-system technologies many of the auditoriums will make you feel like you're really in the environment being shown.

Some of the many things to see and do include:

  • Cyber World - A 3d trip where a cyber-creature will unlock the doors to a host of imaginary worlds.
  • Alantide - A race at break-neck speed through the legendary city of Atlantis using a projection system that synchronizes images, sounds and motion.
  • Experience, with the aid on an Imax projection system, an up close encounter with Panda bears near Shanghai.
  • Set off on a trip to the outer reaches of the solar system and far beyond to the very edges of space thanks to images from the Hubble telescope.

The Futuroscope is open from April to November. From April until the beginning of September the park is open from 10am until nightfall. At other times it is open from 10am until 6pm.

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Niort
From its humble origins as a village on the banks of the Sèvre-Niortaise river, Niort has grown to become the capital of the Deux-Sèvres départment.

Things to see and do include:

  • The impressive medieval Donjon (Keep), housing an archaeological museum.
  • The excellent 19th-century covered market (Food and flowers). Opening times are Thursday and Saturday mornings from very early until 12.30. There is also occasional Sunday opening.
  • An 18 hole golf course, which is only a short drive away from the Château d'Og.

Marais Poitevin
To the west of Niort lies the Marais Poitevin, a maze of waterways and luxuriant vegetation. There are many marsh villages with quaysides, towpaths and white cottages with roman pantile rooves. One of these villages, Coulon, is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. In Coulon is the 'maison des Marais Mouillés', a visitors centre illustrating the traditional lifestyle and customs of the marshes.

Other things to see and do include:

  • Aquarium de la Venise Vert - An aquarium in Coulon showing the freshwater fauna of the Marais Potevin.
  • Boat trips - To explore the very heart of the Marais Poitevin, take a trip on a punt or in a rowing boat. Both guided and unguided trips are available lasting from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
  • Tourist 'train' - This on-road tourist train, known as the 'Pibalou' covers distance of around 20km giving an insight into the geography and natural history of the Marais Poitevin. It runs daily from April to September, departing from Coulon.

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For centuries, La Rochelle was an important maritime port. Now a major tourist centre, there are plenty of things to see and do.

The best way to see La Rochelle is to take a stroll around the Old Harbour and through the nearby network of pedestrianised streets. Here you will see arcaded streets recalling the days when traders would show off their wares, on counters protected from the weather, as soon as they were unloaded from the ships. Some of the streets are cobbled with stones brought back as ballast by ships returning from taken emigrants to the New World.

Things to see and do include:

  • St Nicholas' Tower
    Along with 'The Chain Tower', St. Nicholas' tower stands guard at the entrance to the harbour. It is possible to climb to a lookout platform where there is a wonderful view of the Old Harbour and surrounding town.
  • Musee du Noveau Monde
    The museum of the New World, house in an 18th-century mansion illustrates the links between La Rochelle and the New World from the 16th-century onwards.
  • La Rochelle Aquarium
    Just a short walk from the towers in the Old Harbour is a marine environment, created using more than 3 million litres of seawater, which houses exhibits of the flora and fauna of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the tropics.

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A town dating from the 1st-century A.D. on the banks of the river Charente, Saintes has numerous reminders from the time of the Roman occupation through the Middle Ages and later periods.

Things to see and do include:

  • The Gallo-Roman amphitheatre
  • Musée archéologique (Archeaology Museum)

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Situated at the point where the Gironde estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean, the large seaside resort of Royan was responsible for launching the fashion for sea bathing in the 19th-century. Largely destroyed during the Second World War the resort now boasts some daring post-war architecture, including the Notre-Dame church built in 1955.

The five beaches, sheltered from westerly breezes, provide an ideal environment for swimmers and anyone that enjoys building sand castles.

Other things to see and do in Royan include:

  • Les Jardins du Monde (Gardens of the world)
  • Musée de Royan (Royan Museum)

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The name Cognac is famous throughout the world, with the town of Cognac giving its name to the locally made brandy. For more than 400 years Cognac has been one of the main sources of wealth for the Poitou-Charentes region. Most of the leading producers give guided tours explaining the processes involved in making Cognac. Information about the tours is available from the Tourist Office in Cognac.

Other site seeing at Cognac includes:

  • The Castle
  • Musée de Cognac

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An impressive cathedral city standing high above the river Charente, Angoulême is an ideal place for a walk followed by a meal in the pedestrianized streets within the walls of the upper town.

Things to see and do in Angoulême include:

  • Centre National de la Bande Dessinée et de l'Image (The National Centre of Comic Books and Images) -
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts, with displays of 16th to 20th-century european paintings, antique weaponry, ceramics, archaeological artifacts and exhibits from prehistoric sites in the local region.
  • Boat trips on the river Charente. There are half and full-day cruises available.

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