The French administrative region of Poitou-Charentes is located within the western area of the country, and is roughly inline with the old region that was simply known as Poitou. In recent years it has started to develop itself into an area that attracts national and international visitors. Increasingly many people from across Europe are also looking to retire in the area.
Made up of four departments; Charente, Charente, Deux-Sevres and Vienne, Poitou-Charentes is home to famous towns and cities, including the likes of La Rochelle, Poitiers and Cognac. La Rochelle and Poitiers are most people’s main access points to the region, both having airports that cater to international flights.
People are drawn to Poitou-Charentes partially because of the climate and partially because of the tranquil nature of the region. Climate wise Poitou-Charentes is often seen as a milder version of the Mediterranean region of France. The area often has long dry springs and summers, with temperatures in excess of 30C, whilst winter’s are milder than many other regions of France. The three hundred mile coastline comes complete with many miles of uninterrupted sandy beaches, which are just perfect for the hot summers. The region is also recognised as being far less industrialised than other French regions, with agriculture being a more abundant source of revenue. This has ensured a much more pleasant landscape across the region.
Today’s tourists are just the most recent in a long line of invaders, and over the centuries the Poitou-Charentes region has been settled by the Pictavi, the Romans, Visigoths, Franks, English, before becoming a French province in the fifteenth century. Today’s invaders though are of course looking for enjoyment rather than conquest, and the Poitou-Charentes region offers countless opportunities.
The Departement of Charante is renowned for its cognac, and is home to many cognac houses that can be visited and samples tried. The Departement also has many old villages that are well worth visiting, with many popular tourist attractions, including the large underground church at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, the church of St Jean. Scattered around the area are many lakes and rivers that are ideal for waterborne activities.
Even more popular with visitors though is the Departement of Charante Maritime, with the La Rochelle Aquarium and La Palmyre Zoo the most visited aquarium and zoo within France. Deux Sevres provides the chance for people to interact with nature and cycling and hiking through the forests, valleys and wider landscape popular pastimes.
The Departement of Vienne has been probably the quickest to recognise the benefits of tourism, and now hosts the major tourist attraction of the Futuroscope, a high tech theme park, located just outside of Poitiers. Vienne is also home to many gardens and animal parks, making the Departement a popular destination for families.
Poitou-Charentes as a region has so much to offer that a one week holiday is not going to be long enough to even scratch the surface of what the region is all about. This is probably why so many people are looking to Poitou-Charentes as a place to spend their retirement.