Poitiers is undoubtedly one of the cities emblematic of Romanesque art in France. Surpassing all others (like the churches of Saint Radegund and Saint-Jean-de-Montierneuf), the Notre-Dame-la-Grande church (11th-12th centuries) is one such treasure. Its sculpted façade is a masterpiece of religious art.
Summer and Christmas, it is adorned with lights, and from painting to painting, the artists of Skertzo sweep spectators off to the discovery of Roman art.
Not to Miss
Townhouses and modern creations stand alongside many churches and public buildings, as exceptional examples of Romanesque and Gothic art.
Particularly noteworthy are Notre-Dame-la-Grande, and the palace of the Earls and Dukes of Aquitaine, precious evidence of the civil architecture of the Middle Ages. Its great hall of "Lost Steps" plunges the visitor to the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
The church of Saint-Hilaire, listed since December 1998 as a World Heritage site by UNESCO under the "Chemins de St. Jacques de Compostela in France" and the Baptistery of St. John (5th, 11th centuries), one of oldest Christian monuments in the West dedicated to baptism. Its octagonal baptismal pool marks the heart of this little building, which also houses a fine collection of Romanesque and Gothic frescoes.
St. Peter's Cathedral (12th-13th centuries), the first Gothic building of Poitiers. It houses exceptional furnishings: a set of 12th and 13th-century stained glass windows (including the remarkable stained glass window of the Crucifixion), the 13th-century stalls, and a classic 18th-century organ, the work of F.H. Clicquot.
The Hotel Fumé (15th-16th centuries): very fine example of flamboyant Gothic architecture. Built by two successive generations of the Fumé family, this former townhouse is decorated with highly refined carved, chiseled ledges, banners, window frames, and skylights.
Hotel Berthelot: (16th century), and its beautiful Renaissance décor. A few steps from the Hotel Fumé, this townhouse located at the end of the courtyard is full of carved Italian-inspired motifs: scrolls, medallions, shells, and candelabras.
Blossac Park: designed by the Steward of the king in the 18th century, it offers a wide variety of spaces for relaxation: French garden, English garden, rock garden, small zoo, shadow and light garden, outdoor theater.
Poitiers has the third most organs out of any city in France. The city has five instruments of international renown. French music from the 18th century, symphonic or romantic, there are many repertoires to discover through this ancient instrument.
- The Clicquot organ of the Cathedral of St. Peter is undoubtedly the most prestigious. Installed in 1791, it is a historical monument. The organs of Saint-Hilaire and Saint-Jean-de-Montierneuf are also equally remarkable.
In the Area
The ancient abbey of St. Benedict, in the heart of town. Of this Romanesque abbey, founded in the seventh century by St. Achard, there remains today the Church of St. Andrew, and the east wing of the convent buildings, with the monks' dormitory and chapter house. The interior of the church reveals wealth: a valuable crozier with Limoges enamel from the 13th century and sarcophagi of the 12th century.
At 10 km from Poitiers, the Futuroscope park invites you to experience its thrills and spectacular attractions that use the latest image technologies: dynamic cinema, 3D, and giant screens.
Getting Ready for Your Trip
- An online booking center
- Turnkey stays for groups
The Big Events
Carnival: The Bonhomme Carnaval rises from the ashes to leave in its wake bands, floats, jugglers and passersby dressed in tune with the theme of the year.
Public Voices Festival: A rendez-vous with expression- café debates, conferences, and exhibitions.
The Museum Night: Guided tours and entertainment.
Throughout the summer, Poitiers invites residents and visitors to gather in connection with a hundred different events. On the program: open-air cinema, concerts (world music, gospel, classical, vocal and instrumental ensembles), dance, theater, multimedia shows, entertainment for young audiences, and other unusual trips..
Make Art: international festival dedicated to digital arts and the integration of free software and open practices, it offers performances, exhibitions, presentations and workshops, located at the intersection of art and programming software.
Festival of Expression: festival of street arts and circus-based with an eclectic mix of audiences.
Rencontres Henri Langlois: International Festival of Film Schools, it offers a selection of films representing the work of young international filmmakers.
Taste of Poitou
The cuisine of Poitou is robust and hearty, framed by an ancient culinary tradition and local produce: butter from Poitou Charentes (AOC), walnut oil, goat cheese, cabbage, "mojhettes" (white beans) , lamb and goat meat, river fish, crayfish, eels ... Even today, Poitou cuisine still features slowly simmered dishes of a healthy simplicity.
The Haut-Poitou melon is known for its orange flesh- firm and slightly fragrant.It received the Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP).
The stuffed Poitevin: there are several variations on this dishe, but it is prepared with vegetables, breast of pork, bread crumbs or flour. It can be eaten cold or warm.
The chabichou is one of the most characteristic goat cheeses of the area. With its barrel-shape, it can be enjoyed young or slightly more aged. It goes perfectly in a salad with walnut oil dressing, browned and slightly spiced.
The broyé sec (golden, flat butter cake), tourteau formager (an airy circular cake, with a characteristic brown crust) or a specialty from south-east of the Vienne River: the Montmorillon macaron, a soft almond delicacy that's always a favorite.
The local cuisine is combined with the merits of the wines of Haut Poitou, among them four traditional grape varieties: Sauvignon and Chardonnay for whites; Gamay and Cabernet for reds. Since 1970, they have been grouped into the Appellation d'Origine Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (AOVDQS).
Getting to Poitiers
- TGV train: 1h30 from Paris, 1h40 from Bordeaux, 3h15 from Lille, 3h50 from Lyon
- By plane: Poitiers Biard, direct lines to Lyon, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nice
- Highways: the A10 and the N10 connect to major cities (Paris 330 km, Bordeaux 250 km)