The Poitou-Charentes region of western France is one of the sunniest regions in the country and very popular with visitors. Among the highlights on the coast are the island of Ile-de-Ré and the fascinating historical town of La Rochelle, while inland you can discover the fields of sunflowers and quiet villages for which the region is known.
Visitors return regularly to Poitou-Charentes, not only to explore the stunning coastline and countryside, but to enjoy a French lifestyle that includes gastronomy and heritage sites, festivals and many special events.
The River Vienne is absolutely stunning and in the Summer the Lakes of the Haute Charente are a fabulous place for families to spend a day swimming, doing water sports or just lazing on the beach.
Away from the main towns, dozens of historic small communities such as Chauvigny, Montmorillon and Parthenay offer an authentic slice of local life and culture. Six enchanting villages have also been ranked amongst Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – four on the mainland and two on Ile-de-Ré.
Poitou-Charentes boasts some of the finest examples of French Romanesque art and UNESCO has classified six buildings along the pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela on their World Heritage Site list. Also on the UNESCO list are the breathtaking murals of the abbey church at Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe.
You’ll find plenty of grand chateaux to explore with lavish interiors and glorious gardens - you can even stay in a chateau hotel. Don't forget the many beautiful cycle routes throughout the Charente too.
And if you like a good party, take in one of the region’s many special events and festivals such as Francofolies in La Rochelle, the Circuit des Remparts in Angoulême, and the four-day Fête du Cognac.
Explore the medieval town of Confolens, with it’s quaint old streets and picturesque bridges spanning the River Vienne.
Visitors in August can enjoy the world famous annual “International Festival of Music and Dance” (les danses et musique du monde).
The event attracts performers and visitors from all over the world.
For the more energetic there is Kayaking, Canoeing and Pedelos on the river in July and August.
LA VALLEE DES SINGES - VALLEY OF THE MONKEYS
This popular attraction provides visitors of all ages with the rare and fascinating experience of seeing the monkeys, gibbons, marmosets & gorillas close at hand. Living on wooded isles allows the animals to live in a natural habitat whilst enjoying semi freedom. Sensitivity to the animals needs was paramount in the construction of the parc and that forethought is now reaping its reward with the birth of many healthy primates. Restaurants and picnic areas galore plus the childrens farm and playground will make this a day out to remember.
The name cognac is synonymous the world over with the finest French spirit but the town of Cognac was an important trading port for salt and local wine long before the discovery of the double distillation process that produced the famous drink.
Take a guided tour of Hennessy and the town’s other major cognac houses; visit the fascinating Musée des Arts du Cognac and find out about the surrounding area in the adjacent Cognac Country Discovery centre.
You’ll find more big name producers in nearby Jarnac. Follow the five themed Cognac Trails to meet smaller producers of both cognac and delicious pineau aperitif, as well as traditional craftsmen.
LA ROCHELLE & ILE DE RE
With their rich history and fascinating heritage sites, picturesque coastline and varied family attractions, La Rochelle and Ile de Re rank amongst the highlights of the French Atlantic Coast.
FUTUROSCOPE THEME PARK
Extreme thrills, images in giant-screen format, breathtaking shows, interactive adventures that will delight your senses, and more.
Over 25 experiences for all the family that bring you fun and a new way of exploring the world.p
Visit Angouleme and admire its medieval, renaissance, eighteen and nineteenth century buildings. The spectacular "Circuits des Ramparats" is held in September. A miniture Monaco Grand Prix, it is one of the worlds leading motor races of historic sports and grand prix cars. Of course you could just go for a spot of lunch in one of the many fabulous restaurants or cafés and some shopping.
LA COLLINE ENCHANTEE ANIMAL PARK
Experience a unique and diversified experience in contact with animals on a green area of 12 hectares.With more than 40 species to discover, you will take a trip across the continents. Suitable for all ages, you can learn about different animals while walking in this relaxing space. In addition to discovering the animals, you can progress along a trail of footprints where you can have fun guessing to whom they belong. This activity is currently under development.
Picnic tables are also available in the park's small woodland and two play areas for children.
ORADOUR SUR GLANE
Oradour sur Glane, a chilling reminder of the atrocites committed by SS against innocent men, women and children during the Second World War. General de Gaulle decreed that 15 acres of ruins would be preserved as they were on the day of the massacre.
Why not take a trip on the TGV, you could go from Angoulême to Bordeaux for a Vineyard tour in 35mins or from Angoulême to lunch in Paris in under 2 hours. The choice is yours.
The TGV ("high-speed train") is France's intercity high-speed rail service. Centred on Paris, it has now expanded to connect several main cities across France (Marseille, Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Rennes) and in adjacent countries on combinations of high-speed and conventional lines.