Beautiful sunset over La Rochelle in France

Things to do in  Poitou-Charentes

Atlantic beaches, Cognac & Roman history

Encompassing the departments of Vienne, Charente, Charente-Maritime, and Deux-Sèvres, the former French region of Poitou-Charentes now forms the northern border of Nouvelle Aquitaine. La Rochelle is the star of the Atlantic coast and the gateway to the islands of Île de Ré and Île d'Oléron, but there are plenty of things to do inland, too. Amid the sunflower fields and marshlands, you’ll find the historic towns of Poitiers, Niort, and Angloumeme, the Futuroscope theme park, and medieval Cognac, home of one of France’s most famous aperitifs.

Top 3 attractions in Poitou-Charentes

La Rochelle Towers (Tours de La Rochelle)

The trio of medieval watchtowers that stand guard over La Rochelle’s Old Port (Vieux Port) are the last vestige of the city’s 12th-century sea walls. Protected as a national monument, the La Rochelle Towers (Tours de La Rochelle) are among the city’s most photographed landmarks.More

Aquarium La Rochelle

Located in a building that overlooks La Rochelle’s Old Port (Vieux-Port), the Aquarium La Rochelle is one of the largest aquariums in France and attracts nearly 1 million visitors annually. Learn about more than 600 species—including rays, sharks, and jellyfish—in display areas dedicated to animals from a variety of habitats.More
Fort Boyard

Fort Boyard

One of France’s most unusual military landmarks, Fort Boyard was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte and completed in 1857. The towering sea fort—located in the Pertuis d'Antioche strait between the Île-d'Aix and Île d'Oléron—looks imposing, but was never used defensively. Today, it serves as a set for the popular Fort Boyard game show.More
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All about Poitou-Charentes

When to visit

Tourist season along Poitou-Charentes’ Atlantic Coast kicks off as soon as the sun starts shining, and it’s a popular vacation spot from Easter through early fall. June through September offers the best chance of beach weather—Atlantic waters can be chilly at the best of times—and this is festival time in La Rochelle, with events almost every weekend. Alternatively, the annual Cognac Distillery Festival runs from December through March, offering a chance to see the distilleries in action.

Getting around

Poitou-Charentes’ two international airports are in La Rochelle and Poitiers, and TGV and TER trains link the region’s main towns. Buses and ferries run out to the islands from La Rochelle, where hiring a bike is the most scenic way to get around. Back on the mainland, exploring with your own transport is much easier.

Traveler tips

The tiny Île d’Aix is often overlooked in favor of its neighbors, but this car-less island is dotted with historic forts, bird-watching hotspots, and seafood restaurants. Catch the ferry from Fouras, then hire a bike or take a tour in a traditional horse-drawn carriage.

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People Also Ask

What is Poitou-Charentes known for?

Poitou-Charentes is known for the maritime city of La Rochelle with its atmospheric Old Port, the Atlantic Coast islands of Île d'Oléron and Île de Ré, and Futuroscope—France’s third most popular theme park. The region is also famous for its Cognac, produced in the town of the same name.

What food is famous in Poitou-Charentes?

This Atlantic Coast region around La Rochelle is renowned for its delicious fish and seafood, including fresh oysters, mussels, scallops, and other shellfish, often served with a “mouclade” (creamy, white-wine sauce). Inland, the Deux-Sèvres and Vienne departments are known for their goat cheeses, Farci Poitevin paté, and Tourteau Fromagé cheesecake.

What is Charente France known for?

The department of Charente is known for the historic town of Angouleme, along the Charente River, and medieval Cognac, world-famous for its prestigious Cognac Houses and distilleries. To the east, the Périgord-Limousin Natural Regional Park is a popular spot for hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, and wildlife watching.

Is Poitou-Charentes worth visiting?

Yes. Poitou-Charentes is home to some of the Atlantic Coast’s most popular seaside destinations, including the port city of La Rochelle and the islands of Oléron, Ré, and Aix. As well as hitting the beach, you can go Cognac-tasting, explore the wild Poitevin marshes, and visit the Futuroscope theme park.

What are the top attractions to visit in Poitou-Charentes?

The Vieux Port and medieval quarter of La Rochelle are among the many highlights of the Poitou-Charentes region, along with the beaches and coastal trails of the offshore Oléron, Ré, and Aix islands. Don’t miss a tasting tour of Cognac’s famous distilleries and a day at the Futuroscope theme park.

How many days do you need in Poitou-Charentes?

Give yourself a minimum of a week to take in the highlights of Poitou-Charentes, including a city break in La Rochelle, a tasting tour of Cognac, and some beach time on one of the islands. However, you could easily spend two weeks and include Poitiers, Futuroscope, and the Poitevin marshes.

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