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Sifex France Guide to Poitou-Charentes

The region of Poitou-Charentes boasts a superb coastline with over 300 miles of sandy beaches. The climate offers a remarkable 2,250 hours of sunshine each year, rivalling the Cote d’Azur and providing an extended season for the many activities on offer. The region is rich in buildings of historical and architectural interest, whether relics from the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela or from the Hundred Years’ War and earlier conflicts. In the Vienne to the north east, the main City of Poitiers is one of France’s primary centres of Romanesque architecture. It is well served for communications being only 90 minutes from Paris by TGV and with Ryanair flights to London Stansted. The department has a wealth of beauty spots including Chauvigny, Angls sur Anglin and St Savin. At the other end of the spectrum is the ultra modern park of Futuroscope.

The Deux Sevres to the North West of the department is home to the famous ‘Marais Poitevin’ with its tranquil canals shaded by plentiful poplars. Nearby the town of Niort has impressive buildings dating from the 12th and 17th centuries, and the towns of Parthenay and Thouars, also have their share of historical buildings. On the coast at the Bay D’Aiguillon are the many mussel farms for which the region is famous. To the south east lies the Charente, famous for the production of Cognac, Pineau des Charentes, a blend of the Charente grape juice and local cognac, and for its Charentais melons. The River Charente which flows through the Charente and Charente Maritime, and from which they take their name, is 360 kms long and navigable from Angoulême. This is a green and pleasant land with an abundance of vineyards and gentle foothills. To the North East of the Charente round Confolens and near Montmorillon in the Vienne are the breeding grounds of the Poitou-Charentes lamb.

The Charente Maritime which forms the southern coast of this department is particularly well known for the ancient walled sea port of La Rochelle with its old harbour, the oyster beds of the Ile d’Oleron and the tranquil holiday maker’s paradise of the Ile de Ré . Along the Gironde estuary are numerous resorts including Royan, where sea bathing became ‘de rigeur’ in the 1900’s whilst, to the north, is Rochefort, built as a military base. Numerous forts protect the coastline which boasts miles of sandy beaches, bird sanctuaries and even a zoo. In terms of leisure activities, the region has much to offer. There is horse racing, thalassotherapy, as well as casinos, beach clubs, sailing schools, tennis, riding, cycling, windsurfing, sand yachting and inland, boating in all shapes and forms.

© 2003-2006 Sarah Francis

Sifex France Guide to the Departments in Poitou-Charentes

Charente Maritime
Deux Sevres