A Guide to Poitou-Charentes

Poitou-Charentes is a must for those who are visiting France. Set in the coastal region of western France, Poitou-Charentes is also famous for its extensive vineyards that have been used to produce Cognac and the celebrated native Pineau des Charentes. Poitou-Charentes is set in the central part of France’s Atlantic coastal plains which leads to a vast array of hills further inland.

It is one of the sunniest regions outside the Mediterranean coastal areas yet it doesn’t deter the tourists from flocking to its historical areas – Deux Sèvres, Charente, Vienne and Charente -Maritime. These areas are largely rural with a population which is under 100,000. Poitiers which was the former hub of the region is its predominant city. Farming is essential for the economy as cattle, wheat, and corn are raised. These regions are also abounding with medieval markets and castles with UNESCO listing them under heritage sites. But now to spruce up tourism even more, the district council has opened up the Futuroscope theme based park.

The shoreline area which includes the town of the La Rochelle, Royan and Rochefort is one of the most popular seaside destinations among those visiting. They are big on oysters, it being one of their local specialities. The coastline islands of Ile de Re and Oléron are also popular for their deep sea environment and beaches.

A part of the coast lies at or even borderline below sea-level. In spring of 2010, soaring tides and extreme seas caused by a hurricane by the name of Xyntia broke through the sea defences causing serious flooding which destroyed about 1500 houses in the southern departments. But the disaster has been averted and checked since then. Poitou-Charentes is as beautiful as ever. Listed below are some of the primary tourist attraction spots in the Poitou-Charentes region:

Cognac- For those who konjakas enjoy drinking, it is befitting to visit the cognac houses especially their cognac and pineau cellars. A must visit is its art and history museum and the Saint-Gobain barrelworks and glassworks.

La Rochelle – The capital of Charente-Maritime department, is a seaport on the Bay of Biscay. It is famous for its ‘Vieux Port’ or the Old Harbour, located at the centre of the city. From the harbour, boating trips can be taken to Fort Boyard. The Knights Templar (famous for their mention in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code) had a strong presence in the La Rochelle area. Also the region has been furnished La Rochelle – Île de Ré Airport which is the largest airport in the region.

Angoulème- The capital of Charente department, Angoulème is a suburb famous for its cathedral and the town hall. The river Touvre emerges from the top of the valley at Ruelle which is a splendid sight for those visiting.

Futuroscope Theme Park- A French theme park based on multimedia and cinematography, it is famous for its high end technology based movies including IMAX and 3D. The park had more than 1.5 million visitors in 2007 alone.