Visit Poitou-Charentes, France
One of the sunniest regions in France, Poitou-Charentes is very popular with visitors - among the highlights are the 'holiday island' of Ile-de-Ré and the fascinating and active town of La Rochelle, or head inland to discover the sunflower fields and quiet villages of the region
Four random places to explore: discover somewhere new in Poitou-Charentes!
Poitou-Charentes is found mid-way up the western coast of France, fronting the Atlantic Ocean / Bay of Biscay. The coastal region of Poitou-Charentes is said to be the second sunniest region of France (after Provence). There are four departments in the region: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne, and the capital of the region is Poitiers.
Poitou-Charentes by department
With both La Rochelle and the Ile-de-Re Charente Maritime is a very popular destination among both french and overseas visitors.
La Rochelle is a lovely coastal town just east of Ile de Ré, while the Atlantic coast here includes some attractive (and very popular) islands such as Ile de Ré (and it's major town at St-Martin-de-Ré) and Ile d'Oleron.
The classified 'beautiful villages' of Ars-en-Ré and La Flotte-en-Ré are among the many villages on the island. The small island of Ile d'Aix, the fortified island where Napoleon stayed, is also found just offshore.
Inland from La Rochelle the nearby towns at Marans and Surgeres also have some interesting features to explore.Continuing south along the coast in Charente-Maritime, visit Royan, a popular seaside resort and 4* ville fleurie; the lovely resort and zoo at La Palmyre, a little north from Royan; and also Meschers-sur-Gironde.
Inland a little are Rochefort, a 17th century grand new town around an important naval base; the 'most beautiful village' at Talmont-sur-Gironde; the town of Saintes; and the fortifications at Brouage.
The Charente River can be explored, as it passes through miles of rolling countryside between Angouleme and Rochefort, and is popular with visitors wanting to see the landscapes of the region. For a different water based experience head north to the marshy world of the Marais Poitevin around Marans in the north-east of Charente-Maritime.
See also Charente-Maritime department guide
The main town (and product) of the region that people have heard of comes from the town of Cognac, where you can learn everything related to this popular liqueur - and have ample opportunity to try and buy a few bottles of Cognac to take home with you...
The pretty village of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is another highlight, on the Charente-Dordogne borders.
Note: Angouleme airport has recently opened, with budget flights from the UK.
See also Charente department guide
Centred around Poitiers, the capital of the Poitou-Charentes region, the Vienne department is inland and to the north-east of the region. Poitiers itself has attractive boulevards and street side cafes to explore.
A particular highlight is the abbey at Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, impressive, and also a UNESCO listed world heritage site. An abbey of a different character is in the quiet village of Nouaille-Maupertuis.
The medieval market town of Chauvigny and its three castles are listed as a 'plus beaux detour' town, and the 'most beautiful village' of Angles-sur-l'Anglin is also in Vienne. Also visit the small town of Moncontour to the north-east of the department
Last but certainly not least if you have children - the theme park at Futuroscope is near Poitiers, and always great fun and very popular - action rides, giant screen films, dancing robots...
See also Vienne department guide
(The Marais-Poitevin is a large region of canals and marshes, best explored on a boat hired from one of the towns here).
See more ideas at Poitou-Charentes tourist information, with more towns, national monuments, national parks, towns in bloom etc across the Poitou-Charentes region.
Map of Poitou-Charentes
French version: Poitou-Charentes (Francais)