Chauvigny, Poitou-Charentes: tourism & sightseeing
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The town of Chauvigny is 23 kilometres east of Poitiers, in the Vienne department of Poitou-Charentes. On the banks of the Vienne River, Chauvigny originally derived its wealth from the porcelain industry, and porcelain manufacture still continues here on a small scale.
The first thing that you will notice when you arrive in Chauvigny is that the town is overlooked by a hill with several ruined castles along its ridge. These are the Château des Eveques (‘baronial chateau'), the Chateau d'Harcourt, the 'donjon de gouzon', and the chateau de Montleon.
The medieval village is also in this part of Chauvigny and centred around the Place du Donjon, where you can see some attractive stone houses as well as enjoy a pause in the cafe.
The oldest of the castles in Chauvigny is the 12th century Baronial Castle.
You can enter the best maintained of the castles, the 13th century Château d’Harcourt, for free to admire the architecture and see an exhibition of spices. There is an exhibition of industrial architecture in the donjon and even if you don't want to visit the exhibition you can walk up the steps to the entrance to get a close up view of the gorgeous round rooves of the Collegiale Church of Saint Pierre. There are good views across Chauvigny from the donjon.
In the summer you can also watch an impressive display of birds of prey (les Géants du Ciel) inside the castle grounds.
The Church of Saint Pierre is essentially roman style on the outside and best known for its decorative chevet and square belltower. Be sure to enter the church which is much lighter than most churches inside and there are amazing carvings on the pillars showing a selection of extraordinarily gruesome scenes.
The Church of Notre-Dame is also worth visiting to see the 15th century fresco it contains showing the martyrdom of Saint Leger.
When you have finished exploring the castles and the upper town descend to the newer part of Chauvigny on the river banks below. It is a thriving market town which seems rather separate to the medieval town, and an attractive town that would be a pleasant base for visiting the area. The most imposing building here is the Town Hall, a classical style building built in 1900.
One of the best views of Chauvigny is from the bridge across the Vienne river, from where you can see the church and castles along the top of the hill.
Market day is Saturday in Chauvigny, and this is the best and liveliest day to visit the town.
If you feel like a bit of exercise try the 'velo-rail'. These are carriages that you pedal and they travel along old railway lines. You enjoy the countryside and the children sit between you happy that they aren't joining in. You can be assured that old rail tracks don't go up and down steep hills!
Near to Chauvigny you can visit the Abbey of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO: it is an impressive roman style abbey with exceptional medieval frescoes.
Photos of Chauvigny
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Map of Chauvigny and places to visit
Visit near Chauvigny with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Vienne
Chauvigny is classified as a recommended detour town (plus beau detour)
Address: Chauvigny, Montmorillon, Vienne, Poitou-Charentes, 86300, France || GPS: latitude 46.568, longitude 0.6473
Plan your visit to Chauvigny, Poitou-Charentes
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Eglise de Saint Pierre (Chauvigny): religious monument
- Touffou: remarkable garden (7km)
- Eglise de Saint Gervais et Saint Protais (Civaux): religious monument (14km)
- Abbaye de Saint Savin sur Gartempe (Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe): religious monument (17km)
- Abbaye de Nouaillé-Mauperthuis (Nouaille-Maupertuis): religious monument (19km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame (Montmorillon): religious monument (23km)
- Angles-sur-l'Anglin: most beautiful village (23km)
- Montmorillon: town of art and history (23km)
- Poitiers: town of art and history (24km)
- Futuroscope: theme park (24km)
- Poitiers église Saint-Hilaire le Grand (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (24km)
- Laverré: remarkable garden (28km)
The French version of this page is at Chauvigny (Francais)