Dreaming about a stay in Poitou-Charentes? Its shores lapped by the ocean, the sunniest region in the West invites you to enjoy its fine sandy beaches.
Unless you’d rather travel in time, from Romanesque monuments to the Futuroscope…
The trend in sea bathing originated in Royan as early as the 19th century. Nowadays, its five beaches, sheltered from westerly winds, continue appealing to those who enjoy the delights of sea, sand and sun
Nearby there is Saint-Georges de-Didonne and Saint-Palais lined with pine trees and green oaks, Meschers nestling between two cliffs facing the Gironde estuary, and further north Fouras, Châtelaillon, La Palmyre... One can bathe along the entire coast in charming family resorts where sailors, windsurfers and sandcastle builders rub shoulders.
Out at sea, discover the Isles of Ré, Aix and Oléron, with their endless beaches, their luminous skies and their Mediterranean vegetation. One should cycle across the Isle of Ré to watch the herons and examine the barnacles between the dykes and marshes overrun with salicornia.
On the Isle of Oléron, go to an oyster farmer’s cabin to sample the renowned Marennes-Oléron oysters, whose green colour comes from a small alga called the blue navicelle. The Isle of Aix will leave you with the memory of a small island free of cars and streets adorned with hollyhock. In the distance stands Fort Boyard...
Close to the coastline beaches, stroll through towns packed with history: La Rochelle and its old harbour guarded by three Medieval towers; Rochefort whose Corderie Royale (a former rope factory) borders on the Charente River; Brouage, an ancient walled harbour devoted to the salt trade, now abandoned to the sea amongst the marshes; Saintes, the millennial city and its white facades; La Roche-Courbon and its Château standing by the Saintonge Treasure trail...
You could also go up the Charente Valley aboard a small barge from Rochefort to Angoulême, feeling the effect of the tide as far up as Saint-Savinien, where the old boat port and its church, featuring a square steeple, are worth a visit. Then Cognac approaches.
On all panels and signs, the major winemakers offer to show you their cellars and to tell you a few secrets: development, ageing and general gossip; not to be missed, for the sheer fun of it and also to discover (lien vers la page « envie d'apprendre ») that without the blunder made by a winegrower four centuries ago, when he inadvertently twice burnt his wine in the still... cognac would not exist today.
Get to know about the Poitou-Charentes heritage! Signs of an architecture born on the way to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, some six hundred Romanesque buildings, raised from the 11th to the 12th centuries, tell of the daily life, beliefs and chimeras of the Middle Ages.
In Angoulême, you should not miss the seventy characters on Saint-Pierre Cathedral, you should halt before the facade of Notre-Dame-la-Grange in Poitiers, and visit Saintes, Chauvigny, Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, Melle, Aulnay, etc.
Right there, between the Vendée and the Poitou, a maritime gulf used to stretch until the year 600, called the Gulf of the Pictons. Cistercian monks decided to reclaim it, thus helping create the appearance of today’s Poitevin Marsh. The best way to explore it is to rent a small boat: there’s nothing like a “flat-bottom” guided by a boatman to infiltrate this labyrinth of canals, locks and inlets, where eels, carps, perch, pike perch and pikes proliferate.
After all that, you can visit, year round, the Futuroscope in Poitiers: interactive, relief or 360° images... Then exhilarated by all this future technology, what could be more soothing than getting back to basics by sampling local specialties, like those small grey escargots that people in the Charentes call "cagouilles" and people in the Poitou call "lumas", or mussel dishes like eclade or mouclade, or a fish stew chaudrée, or mojette beans...
Feel like exploring Poitou-Charentes? Book your accommodation among the region’s Logis hotel restaurants and abandon yourself to the charm of your destination’s spellbinding setting.