History is omnipresent in Poitiers. From listed monuments to half-timbered houses, you will travel through time and also pass contemporary buildings that express the dynamism of the regional capital. Your exploration is guaranteed to be an enjoyable experience.
Built during Antiquity on a rocky promontory around which two rivers flow, Poitiers has a heritage of immense richness that testifies to 2,000 years of history. Its centre has 78 buildings listed as historical monuments. Contemporary constructions stand alongside these treasures of the past. Their lines and curves fit into the harmony of its urban landscape.
Sites & Monuments
- Church of Notre-Dame-la-Grande (11th to 12th century): a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Its celebrated sculpted façade, previously multicoloured, is illuminated every evening in summer. These light shows are designed by the Skertzó artists.
- Palais de Justice (Law Courts) (12th to 14th century) : the former residence of the powerful Comtes de Poitou, Ducs d’Aquitaine. An outstanding example of secular architecture in the Middle Ages. The impressive waiting hall plunges the visitor back into the time of Aliénor d’Aquitaine.
- Cathedral of Saint-Pierre (12th to 13th century): the city’s first Gothic building. Its exceptional features include: a set of stained-glass windows from the 12th and 13th century (including the remarkable Crucifixion window), stalls from the 13th century, and a classical organ from the 18th century, the work of F.-H. Clicquot.
- Baptistery of Saint-Jean (5th, 11th century): one of the oldest Christian monuments dedicated to baptism. Its octagonal baptismal pool is the centre of this small building which also features a series of Romanesque and Gothic wall paintings.
- Church of Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand (11th, 19th century): a sanctuary for pilgrims on the road to Compostella. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this remarkable Romanesque church (nave partly restored in the 19th century) is dedicated to the first known bishop of Poitiers.
- Hôtel Fumé (15th to 16th century): a very fine example of high Gothic architecture. Built by two successive generations of the Fumé family, this former private town mansion features sculpted decoration of great refinement in the cornices, string courses, window surrounds, dormer windows, etc.
- Parc de Blossac: green architectural features and animal world. Check out the geometric layouts of the French formal park, discover the undulations of the English garden, relax in the theatre of greenery … and pay a visit to the guests of the zoological park. The Parc de Blossac was first laid out in the 18th century by the King’s Intendant.
- Former Abbey of Saint-Benoît: in the town centre. Of the Romanesque abbey founded in the 7th century by Saint Achard, there remain only the church of Saint-André and the eastern wing of the monastic buildings, with the dormitory of the monks and the chapter house. The interior of the church features richly decorated items: a precious crosier decorated with Limoges enamel from the 13th century, and sarcophagi from the 12th century.
Poitiers offers a rich and varied cultural scene throughout the year. This dynamic round of events and programmes allows both the general public and the most demanding amateurs to enjoy exceptional exhibitions and shows. The city possesses numerous quality buildings for the expression of its permanent cultural programmes. Historical and unusual museums, cinemas, venues for
Carnival: Poitiers will be burning Monsieur Carnaval. The Place du Maréchal Leclerc, where the keys of the city will be handed over at 5:00 pm, will be coloured … white! An unusual colour for an original "carte blanche" carnival theme: a polar and lunar world featuring giant marionettes with crazy expressions.
Festival Voix publiques “Time is a present”: this will be the theme of café debates, lectures, exhibitions, concerts, etc. . “The more time passes, the less time we seem to have left. Could that be as precious as a present?”
The Nuit des Musées (Museums Night): on the programme; guided tours and friendly and free entertainments.
Fête de la Musique: everybody’s swinging, rapping, singing… at the Music Festival. Amateur musicians, stars for one night, beat out the rhythm. Join in the fun.
Eclats d’été: all through the summer Poitiers is a lively place to be! Concerts (world music, gospel, classical repertoire, vocal and instrumental ensembles), humour, dance, theatre, multimedia shows, street arts, open-air cinema, etc. Poitiers invites its inhabitants and visitors of all ages to a hundred free shows. A varied programme and venues to offer each performance the ideal setting: a church, a park, a museum, a local cultural centre, etc.
Polychromies de Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame illuminated) City centre: when Notre-Dame takes on the colours imagined by the Skertzó artists to recreate its original façade, all Poitiers comes out to watch.At 10:30 pm in July and August.
Promenade à la Tombée des Etoiles (Night Guided Tour): in the company of a qualified guide (approved by the Ministry of Culture), discover the monuments and sites of Poitiers (Saturday) as they appear at night (subject to conditions).
Heritage Days: the city’s historical monuments open up to visitors. Take advantage of these two days to discover them all, including those that are usually closed to the public.
Make Art: an international festival dedicated to the digital arts, the integration of free software and open uses. It features performances, exhibitions, presentations and workshops on cross-over points between art and software programming.
Festival des Expressifs: four days of festival entertainment based on street arts and the circus, theatre, dance, marionettes, music, mime, juggling, video, etc. A hundred free shows to liven up the city centre and entertain every type of audience.
Rencontres Henri Langlois (New young cinema week): the international festival of film schools proposes a selection of films representative of the latest work of young directors from all over the world. During this week of competition you are invited to discover the films in all genres made by those young people who are sure to be making news in the future’s film scene.
Poitiers and its surrounding region are worth visiting for all their visual treats… and also for the pleasure of eating! The region’s healthy and tasty cuisine with its traditional specialities has been handed down through the generations with pride.
- The farci poitevin (stuffing): a regional culinary speciality
- Haut-Poitou melon: sweet, juicy, firm and fragrant, the melon has found its ideal growing soil in the Haut-Poitou.
- Poitou-Charentes lamb: the result of a long tradition of breeding, the quality of the lamb of Poitou-Charentes is unanimously recognised. Its delicate flavour makes it one of the most appreciated regional dishes.
- The Chabichou du Poitou: star of the cheeses of Poitou, Chabichou makes its producers feel justifiably proud. Lovingly made from fresh and full-cream goat’s milk, with the AOC quality label, it is matured for 10 days minimum. You will recognise it from its unique shape: a cone 6 cm high.
- The Broyé du Poitou: this sweet-tasting butter biscuit used to be served at all the events involving farming life. Apart from its unique taste, the broyé has another special feature: traditionally it was broken up and the biggest fragments were served to those with hearty appetites, while the smaller ones were left for the gourmets.
- The AOC wines of Haut-Poitou: perfect for accompanying regional dishes, the wines of Haut-Poitou have recently obtained the AOC quality label which recompenses their quality and authenticity. Treat yourself to a tour of their wine-growing region where the vineyards nestle snugly among the undulating and wooded countryside. Share the passion of the wine-growers who will invite you to discover their vines and cellars before tasting the 4 traditional wine varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gamay and Cabernet.
- Parc du Futuroscope: the 2nd largest theme park in France welcomed its 40-millionth visitor in 2011. It also won the prize for the world’s best attraction with “Arthur l’Aventure 4D” designed by Luc Besson.
This year, Futuroscope celebrates its 25th anniversary. Join in the party and set out for a terrific voyage through time and space. Become Minimoy and follow Arthur on board his flying ladybird, meet the animals of the future, explore the depths of the earth’s oceans, take off in Apollo 11 for a Flight to the Moon in the company of the Astroflies, or enjoy the magic of the Little Prince.
- By road: by the A10 motorway, Poitiers is 330 km from Paris, 220 km from Bordeaux, 130 km from La Rochelle and 100 km from Tours. The A road 10 (Nationale 10) also runs alongside this Paris-Bordeaux route. Using the A roads (routes nationales), Lyon is 550 km, Nantes 180 km and Limoges 120 km from Poitiers.
- By train: the city is most comfortably accessed via the TGV Atlantique high-speed train, with a station in the city centre and another at the Futuroscope park. Located just 1h30 from Paris, 1h45 from Bordeaux and 3h15 from Lille, Poitiers is within easy reach for visitors and holiday-makers.
- By airplane: Poitiers-Biard airport offers regular links to the major national and European destinations. Direct links provide several flights per week to Lyon, London, Edinburgh (July/August), Ajaccio (summer), Malaga (April to June), Barcelona (mid-March to mid-October). A car rental service desk is present in the terminal.
The Tourist Office, the assurance of a successful stay.
- Hotel reservations: the accommodation advisors of the Tourist Office will select with you the type of accommodation that you desire, provide advice and handle the reservation.
- Ticketing: we can sell you tickets for the Futuroscope, the guided tours, your travel around the city by bus.
45, place Charles de Gaulle – BP 377
86009 Poitiers Cedex
Tel: + 33 (0)5 49 41 21 24 - Fax: + 33 (0)5 49 88 65 84