Quick Guide to Poitou Charentes

Departments in Poitou-Charentes:

Charente, Charente-Maritime, Vienne, Deux-Sevres

Popular Towns in Poitou-Charentes:

Poitiers, La Rochelle, Saintes, Angouleme, Royan

Poitou-Charentes may lack the glitz and glam of its flashy neighbours along the Atlantic coast, but it makes up for it with a huge personality. Instead of lounging on the beach, you'll be kayaking through the "Green Venice" marshes in Charente, and instead of luxurious casinos you will instead bask in the glory of medieval fortifications in Vienne and science museums about the future in Deux-Sevres.

But that's not to say the regions doesn't still boast some of the best aspects of the Atlantic coasts, with Charente-Martime showcasing beaches lined with spotless sand, the old port at La Rochelle and the jet-set crowd drinking the region's famous Cognac on the exclusive island of Isle de Re. There are two distinct sides to Poitou Charentes so take some time to get to know them both.

Top things to see...

  • The magnificent citadel walls rising out of the marshes, unchanged for centuries at Brouage.
  • The Old Port at La Rochelle, a medieval Atlantic fort which is almost as stunning as the view of the ocean it boasts.
  • The Roman equivalent of the Arc de Triumphe, the Arch of of Germanicus, nestled next to a preserved Roman ampitheatre, in the small town of Saintes.
  • The impressive and comprehensive medieval quarter of Chavigny, the "town of five castles", built on a rocky spur on the banks of the Vienne.
  • A bird's eye view over La Rochelle from the top of the precarious Tour de la Lanterne in the city centre.

Top things to do...

  • Kayak and ramble through the "Green Venice" because of its natural network of rivers and streams.
  • Learn about the craftsmanship and skill needed to produce Cognac in one of the great cognac houses and the Pineau cellars.
  • Bask in the sun of one of France's mildest regions and chomp on the local Rochefort cheese.
  • Get a glimpse of the future at the high-tech Futuroscope, with incredible IMAX theatres and thrills to suit everyone.
  • Hike across the peaceful islands of Oleron and Aix.

Famous for...

Cognac, La Rochelle, sunshine, Green Venice, Futuroscope.

Did you know...?

The region gets 2,250 hours of sunshine every year.

Getting there

By road... The Poitou-Charentes region is crossed by the main motorway between Paris and western / south-western France, the A10 (Paris-Tours-Bordeaux), which makes it easy to drive to and through.

By air... Various low-cost carriers fly to La Rochelle, but the easiest way to reach the region is probably to fly to airports just outside the region, at Bordeaux, Bergerac and Limoges and then sort out addition transport to your destination in the region.

By public transport... Buses from Paris are readily available to Poitou-Charentes, but take so long its worth spending a little more for the TGV, which is much more reliable for timings.