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Poitou-Charentes Travel Guide
Oyster farmer boat at sunset in Charentes maritimes (© Bertrand Collet |
Oyster farmer boat at sunset in Charentes maritimes.


The tranquil rural region of Poitou-Charentes marks the gradual transition between northern and southern France. Its traditional dialects, Poitevin and Saintongeais belong to the northern Oïl language family, but its warm climate, sunflower fields, and relaxed atmosphere (the siesta is not uncommon here). The region is renowned for its Cognac brandy, Pineau des Charentes, Charentais melon, and Marennes-Oléron oysters, and white sand beaches.

The northern half of the region is the Poitou, making up a big chunk of the historical province of Poitou (minus the Vendée). The south is composed of the three small traditional provinces of Saintonge, Angoumois and Aunis, in the valley of the slow-flowing Charente.

Famous people from Poitou-Charentes include (chronologically): King Francis I of France, Louis XIV's second wife Madame de Maintenon, the poet and playwright Alfred de Vigny, the political economist Jean Monnet (one of the EU's founding fathers), and President François Mitterrand.



Département de la Charente-Maritime

La Rochelle
La Rochelle, Poitou-Charentes
outstanding La Rochelle was historically France's main port of trade with and emigration towards the New World. Its economy remains resolutely maritime.
Saintes, Poitou-Charentes
very good Roman city, then capital of the historical province of Saintonge, Saintes offers visitors Roman ruins and medieval churches.

Other attractions

very good Ars-en-Ré
very good Aulnay
very good Hiers-Brouage
very good La Flotte
very good Mornac-sur-Seudre
very good Rochefort
very good Royan
very good Talmont-sur-Gironde

Département de la Charente

La Rochefoucauld Castle
La Rochefoucauld Castle, Poitou-Charentes
outstanding Blending medieval and Renaissance styles, the ducal castle of La Rochefoucauld is one of France's most sumptuous.
Cognac, Poitou-Charentes
very good Cognac is home to the world-famous eponymous variety of brandy.

Other attractions

very good Angoulême

Département de la Vienne

outstanding Futuroscope (theme park)
very good Poitiers
outstanding Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe

Département des Deux-Sèvres

good Niort
very good Oiron Castle
very good Thouars

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