When you think of Poitiers, you may think of Futuroscope... but the city has much more to offer! On the banks of the River Clain, the beating heart of the Poitou-Charentes region is full of history and culture, and less than two hours away from Paris.
Let's be clear, Poitiers is a great city to live in. Near the Loire Valley and the Atlantic coast, France's biggest student city excels in biomedical and aeronautical research. It is home to a large number of students who come to follow in the footsteps of Ronsard, Rabelais and Descartes, brilliant minds that once attended Poitiers university.
Packed with bars and restaurants to suit all tastes, Poitiers invites exploration. The "city of a hundred spires" reveals its heritage through the Chemins de Notre-Dame, signposted walks offering three different routes that are marked out on the ground. As you wind your way through the charming shopping streets of the city centre, you'll soon see that modern-day Poitiers embraces the future as well as the past. Among the city's 80 listed buildings, undoubtedly the most iconic is the Église Notre-Dame la Grande, an 11th-century masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. In summer and at Christmas, you can attend the Polychromies, an enchanting light show that brings back to life the colours that once adorned the sculptures on the church's facade.
Continue your walk along the Grand'Rue, home to one of the last candle manufacturers in France, and you'll come to the stunning Gothic Cathedral of Saint Peter, construction of which began in the 12th century under the aegis of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Nearby are the Baptistère Saint-Jean, one of the oldest Christian buildings in Europe, and the Palais de Justice, the former palace of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine, where Joan of Arc was interrogated in 1429.
Art lovers won't want to miss the fantastic Rupert de Chièvres museum, which is home to paintings by artists of the Dutch and Flemish schools, as well as the huge Musée Sainte-Croix, which is just around the corner, where a range of archaeological collections are on display. Fancy a bit of greenery? Stop off at the Jardin des sens, a colourful, beautifully fragrant place where you can enjoy relaxing.
And of course, you can't visit Poitiers without visiting the legendary Parc du Futuroscope, a digital technology theme park that will fascinate young and old alike. Giant screens, dancing robots and a 4D adventure... be warned, it's mind-blowing!
Conveniently situated between Paris and Bordeaux, Poitiers is easy to get to, particularly by train. From Paris, it only takes one and a half hours by high-speed train and around three hours by car to reach the department of Vienne via the A10 motorway. The city also has an airport with connections to Lyon, London and Ajaccio. As Poitiers is quite compact, it's easy to get around on foot, by bicycle or via the Vitalis bus network.