Poitou-Charentes, in western France, has plenty of culinary specialities to offer. This region is particularly renowned for its excellent cognac and 'fleur de sel' from Ile-de-Ré. The famous oysters of Marennes-Oléron are cultivated here, as are bouchot mussels, a meaty and delicate species. Fabulous potatoes are also grown on Ile-de-Ré; they have a high level of iodine because they grow in calcareous and sandy soil brought in by the sea. An alcoholic speciality of the region is 'Pineau des Charente'; made from wine it can either be white or rosé. What's more, many of the regional dishes are simmered in wine. Other welcome, common ingredients in the region's dishes are creme fraiche and butter.
The fauna and flora in the Poitou-Charentes region are very diverse. It's on the protected site of the Poitevin Marsh where you are most likely to find a multitude of species. The eel and the European otter are emblems of the marsh. Among the various animal species living the region we can also list plenty of bird species, freshwater turtles, storks, and minks. Wild orchids are some of the most beautiful plants to be found in Poitou-Charentes.
Most French people are familiar with Fort Boyard thanks to the long-running game show of the same name. The fort has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. The 17th century Corderie Royale is also worth a visit. Cable length ropes were made here for the royal navy. 'Le Paléosite', the prehistory centre in Saint Césaire, stretches out over an area of 2,000m² and offers visitors spectacular discoveries of the world of our earliest ancestors through the use of the most modern techniques. Among the museums, The Regional Dupuy Mestreau Museum and the National Marine Museum are particularly interesting.
Animals of all kinds can be discovered at the Palmyre Zoo, a fun experience for the whole family. If you find creatures of the sea particularly interesting, you will enjoy the Rochelle Aquarium. For history buffs, the Surgères Historical Centre, with its 11th century Roman church, is a must. The small town of Pons also has special historical value. Many 12th century elements of this town built in the Middle Ages have been preserved. The Futuroscope of Poitiers is a leisure park that specialises in the cinema: 3D and other cinematographic experiences will be sure to excite visitors of all ages.
It would seem that the list of monuments to visit in this region is endless. The unique 'Route des Trésors de Saintonge' allows you to experience 40,000 years of French history through 22 prestigious monuments. Military, civil, and religious structures from various eras and of varying styles succeed one another like in a giant ecomusem. Fort Louvois in Bourcefranc-Le Chapus, Touffou Castle, Saint-Savin Abbey with its Roman frescoes, and the Roman-style Church of Saint Hilaire de Melle are among the most popular monuments in the region.
This region, with its varied landscapes, is ideal for walks and hikes. You can even cover some of the over 1,500 miles of trails by bike. Sailing is also a very popular sport on the Charente-Maritime coast. Why not go for a river crossing? From Marans to Niourt, you can cross 3 Departments by boat over more than 62 miles of river. Golfing is a popular sport in Poitou-Charentes.
The Atlantic coast of the Poitou-Charentes region is characterised by wind, waves, sandy beaches, and trees. A visit to the islands of Oléron and Ré is highly recommended. Thanks to the mild and sunny climate on Ile-de-Ré, it is particularly well adapted for being explored by bike.