Poitiers

Overview

Introduction

The largest town of Poitou-Charente, Poitiers has several monuments worth visiting: the fourth-century Baptistry of St. John, the Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-la-Grande (whose somewhat exaggerated sculptural style is typical of the region) and the monumental square, the Place du Marechal-Leclerc. Near Poitiers, which is 190 mi/305 km southwest of Paris, is the Futuroscope, a large theme park devoted to the sciences and new technologies.

The countryside around Poitou is very pleasant: In the spring, flowers dot the lush green hills, and languid streams flow through meadows. Other towns worth a stop are St. Savin, which is graced with two 13th-century bridges and whose church has fascinating Romanesque frescoes; Angouleme, a fortified hilltop town; and Saintes, an attractive market town and crafts center.

Just outside the region on the Atlantic coast is La Rochelle, considered by many the loveliest seaside town in France—and a great place for fresh, inexpensive oysters and good wine. To the north of La Rochelle is the Marais Poitevin, the marshy area veined with canals and rivers more commonly known as "La Venise Verte" (the Green Venice). The area has been made a national park, and you can rent a punt to explore it.

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