Following in Gargantua’s footsteps, you may encounter the otters, eels, herons and wading birds that inhabit the Charentes-Maritime marshes. The Marais Poitevin (Poitevin Marsh) is listed as a Grand site de France (a Notable Site in France), and the area known as Green Venice at Aiguillon Bay can be explored on the canals aboard a “plate” or a batais (a traditional black flat boat). Or instead, try one of the pathways and cycle paths that crisscross the marsh.
It’s possible to cycle to the beaches on both Ile d’Oléron and Ile de Ré. The coastline, with its secured and fortified cities endowed with such rich architecture, inevitably draws history enthusiasts. La Rochelle’s towers make for picture-postcard scenes.
Not forgetting Poitiers (the city of 100 steeples) with its baptistery from the fourth century, Rochefort (a spa town) with a royal rope factory,
Niort with its unique twin dungeons, Royan with its seaside villas and church
of Notre Dame (symbolic of post-war
Poitou-Charentes, on route of Santiago de Compostela, is a haven for Roman art treasures : the Abbey of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, the Abbey of the Dames of Saints, the Abbey of Fontdouce and the Notre-Dame-la-Grande Church, and the Saint- Pierre d'Aulnay-de-Saintonge Church.
The Atlantic Ocean supplies Poitou-Charentes with seafood, including shellfish, crustaceans, and the famous Marennes-Oléron oysters and mussels raised in bouchot. Gourmands can feast on Poitevin stuffed lamb, melon from Haut Poitou, mojette (white beans) or potatoes from Ile de Ré with local Poitou-Charentes butter. And be sure to sample the local cheeses: the Poitou chabichou, the tourteau fromagé (a traditional cheese cake), the Poitevin broyé (another traditional pastry), the Charentaise Galette, and the Niort Galette flavored with angelica.
There is no shortage of traditional regional drinks to accompany these delicacies. Try the pineau from Charentes, cognac (produced at the second AOC vineyard in France) and the wines from Haut Poitou.
The Festival of Roman Nights highlights the exceptional local heritage. The streets and port of La Rochelle also come alive with The International Festival of Film and the Francofolies. Angoulême opts for the 9th art with its International City of Comics and Animation and the International Festival of Comics. The Grand Pavois and the International Sailing Week reaffirm the ties that bind Poitou-Charentes to the ocean, epitomized by the Chantier of Hermione and the Phare des Baleines (The Whale Lighthouse). The Museum of the Bougon Burial Mounds, the Museum of Donjons, Castle Oiron and Castle Rochefoucauld recount the history of Poitou-Charentes. The Château des énigmes (Enigmas Castle) is no exception but it's another story you will be told!
Poitou-Charentes certainly has many surprises in store. Enjoy adventures at the Futuroscope. Laugh at the antics of the residents at The Valley of the Monkeys or the Palmyra Zoological Park. And admire the silent balletic dance of the fish in the Rochelle Aquarium.
Poitou-Charentes is a multifaceted destination with something for everyone.