POITIERS – www.ot-poitiers.fr
Poitiers, a city with ancient Gaulish roots, has seen the ebb and flow of history, marked like a multi-needled chronometer by the construction of spired religious buildings. In fact, Poitiers was once known as the “town of 100 bell towers.” There are fewer towers now, but some that remain attest to the city’s age, like the 4th-century Saint-Jean baptistry and later (but still old) Romanesque architectural masterpieces. The newest wave, however, is that of students, making young people a giant part of the population that sustains a celebratory love for the contemporary arts, gastronomy and nature.
There is a Statue of Liberty in Poitiers! In 1903, a smaller version of the famous work that Bartholdi presented to New York City was placed on Place de la Liberté to remember General Jean-Baptiste Breton, who was executed there in 1822 for plotting against Louis XVIII.
With more than 27,000 students in Poitiers, half of the population is younger than 30 years old.
Eglise Notre-Dame-la-Grande: a masterpiece of Romanesque church architecture and particularly notable for its sculpted facade
Musée Sainte-Croix: leading regional museum, with one special section devoted to the archeology covering Poitou history and another given over to Camille Claudel sculptures
farci poitevin: a vegetable pâté (sorrel, chard, spinach) flavored with lard and wrapped in cabbage leaves
Haut-Poitou wines: fresh and light, these wines come in white, red and rosé colors
Joël Robuchon: chef and restaurateur with the most Michelin stars (28) of any chef in the world
Also in the Area
Futuroscope: a family-friendly vision of the future in a multimedia theme park, France's second most visited after Disneyland Paris
Abbaye de Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe: an 11th-century Romanesque architecture with an exceptional collection of equally ancient and well-preserved wall paintings
Access from Paris
by road: about 3 h 30 min (215 miles) via the A10 autoroute L'Aquitaine
by train: about 1 h 20 min by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse
For more about what to see and do in and around Poitiers, including on the “Art and History in Western France” itinerary, visit www.topfrenchcitybreaks.com.