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Travel to Poitou-Charentes, the heart of rural France

  • Poitou-Charentes, France
    © iStockphoto.com / Saintho
  • Poitou-Charentes, France
    © iStockphoto.com / Sablin
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination France

"On a farm in Poitou, a cock loved a clock" sang Claude Nougaro. It is true that this area has everything it takes to turn heads, or even drive some crazy. This isn't necessarily due to the Pineau or Cognac (which, as everyone knows, should be consumed with moderation) but to the wealth of the region on so many accounts.
First there is the coastline, to which holidaymakers flock come summer. The small and charming Ile de Ré sees its streets, its ports and its beaches crammed by both celebrities and tourists as soon as the weather turns warm. Less popular with high society, Ile d'Oléron, the region's other island, is highly frequented by mainlanders in search of beaches and seafood platters (including, in particular, the famous Marenne oysters).
The fine sand and coastal cities of Charente-Maritime, like La Rochelle and its old port, or Royan, the famous seaside resort of the 'Coast of Beauty', often make tourists forget all other destinations. However, if the east coast is the sapphire of the region, its interior is a set of emeralds. Obviously, the central stone of this necklace is 'Venice Verte' (Green Venice). This very unique part of the Poitevin Marsh offers visitors rides over duckweed-covered canals steered by a boatman, enabling them to discover for themselves the grandeur of what many painters have depicted on their canvasses.
The region is also a paradise for those who love history and architecture. There are no less than a thousand Roman churches at its heart, not to mention countless castles, forts and prehistoric sites. The panorama of Poitou-Charentes would not be complete without one of its famous cities, Poitiers. This city's history can be discovered by wandering around its streets and visiting its 78 monuments, while its modern side can be seen in its park dedicated to images and new technologies, Futuroscope.

Poitou-Charentes: the key figures

Surface area : 25809.0 km2

Population : 1779000 inhabitants

Poitou-Charentes: what to visit?

Enogastronomy

  • Bouchot mussels , France
    Bouchot mussels
  • Marennes Oléron oysters , France
    Marennes Oléron oysters
  • Ile de Ré potatoes , France
    Ile de Ré potatoes
  • The 'cagouille' , France
    The 'cagouille'
  • Pineau des Charentes , France
    Pineau des Charentes
  • Cognac , France
    Cognac
  • Cognac , France

The fauna and flora

  • Marais Poitevin National Park , France
    Marais Poitevin National Park
  • Animals, minerals, and plants , France
    Animals, minerals, and plants
  • Animals, minerals, and plants , France

Arts and culture

  • National Marine Museum , France
    National Marine Museum
  • Dupuy Mestreau Regional Museum , France
    Dupuy Mestreau Regional Museum
  • Paléosite , France
    Paléosite
  • Fort Boyard , France
    Fort Boyard
  • Rochefort's 'Corderie Royale' rope factory , France
    Rochefort's 'Corderie Royale' rope factory
  • Rochefort's 'Corderie Royale' rope factory , France

Activities and leisure

  • La Rochelle Aquarium , France
    La Rochelle Aquarium
  • La Palmyre Zoo , France
    La Palmyre Zoo
  • The historical centre of Surgères , France
    The historical centre of Surgères
  • Futuroscope in Poitiers , France
    Futuroscope in Poitiers
  • The town of Pons , France
    The town of Pons
  • The town of Pons , France

Monuments

  • The Treasures of Saintonge , France
    The Treasures of Saintonge
  • Fort Louvois , France
    Fort Louvois
  • Saint Hilaire church in Melle , France
    Saint Hilaire church in Melle
  • Saint-Savin Abbey , France
    Saint-Savin Abbey
  • Touffou Château , France
    Touffou Château
  • Touffou Château , France

Landscapes

  • A good region for walking , France
    A good region for walking
  • Hiking in Charente-Maritime , France
    Hiking in Charente-Maritime
  • Cycling in Charente-Maritime , France
    Cycling in Charente-Maritime
  • Sailing and sailing lessons , France
    Sailing and sailing lessons
  • La Prée Golf Course, La Rochelle , France
    La Prée Golf Course, La Rochelle
  • Royan Golf Course , France
    Royan Golf Course
  • Saintes Golf Course , France
    Saintes Golf Course
  • Haut Poitou Golf Club , France
    Haut Poitou Golf Club
  • Haut Poitou Golf Club , France

Coasts

  • Ile de Ré , France
    Ile de Ré
  • Beaches , France
    Beaches
  • Beaches , France

Poitou-Charentes: travel tips

With its oceanic climate, Poitou-Charentes receives a lot of rain. The ideal season for enjoying the mild temperatures and blue skies is from May to September.
During these five mild months, visitors can take advantage of all that the land and the sea comprising this region have to offer. Since the two summer months are synonymous with large crowds of tourists on the coastline, we recommend you use these months to discover the inland territory of this region. There are many different ideas for possible outings. The Poitevin Marsh and its Green Venice should definitely be explored. Even just a simple boat ride will be enough to give you a taste of the wealth and uniqueness of this very green land.
On a more cultural side, you can visit the National Centre of Comics in Angoulême as well as the city itself, the Futuroscope theme park in Poitiers, and the prehistoric sites in Lussace-les-Châteaux. In short, this is a region where you can travel back to the beginning of time but also far into the future. In spring, it is time to discover the Poitou-Charentes coastline. Less crowded than in the summer, this is the perfect season for discovering Île de Ré, Île d'Oléron and the maritime landscapes by bicycle or from the beaches along the coast.
Just 3h by train from Paris (Poitiers is 1h 40m away), La Rochelle is the ideal destination for a long weekend if you are looking for the ambience of a port city combined with plenty of fresh seafood. However, the entire region abounds with local products and specialities, such as bouchot mussels, Marennes-Oléron oysters, Charente-Poitou butter and cognac.

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