Located in central France, visitors to Poitiers will arrive at their destination after a 90 minute flight from Shannon. Poitiers-Biard Airport sits just 10 minutes outside the city making the onward journey to your accommodation nothing more than a short hop after disembarking. The trip won’t set you back an arm and a leg either – public transport is plentiful while a taxi should cost no more than €10.
With a birdseye view on approach, visitors will see exactly why this city was of particular strategic importance to military forces down through the ages. Sitting between the valleys of Boivre and Clain, the tactical benefit of occupation wasn’t lost on the English, who were victorious at the Battle of Poitiers during the Hundred Years’ War in 1356.
In more recent times, Poitiers suffered heavy bombing during World War II and remained a favourite location for US intelligence up until the 1960s before Charles de Gaulle put an end to the US military presence in France. Since then, the city and its surrounds have become more attractive to tourists with history and culture seeping from its pores.
Before you explore further though, it’s best to settle down in your chosen accommodation. Hotels and hostels are available to suit all budgets, while a Chateaux stay on the outskirts might tickle the fancy of those who are willing to part with a little more of their holiday fund. During breaks in the academic year, travellers can also find great deals for short stays as the students of the University of Poitiers take their leave.
Those looking for a holiday full of history will find more than enough to satisfy them here. Despite being bombarded during the Second World War, many of buildings in Poitiers are still intact and are stunning both in stature and design. It’s difficult to select one of the many churches as the standout spectacle but if forced, one would have to opt for the Baptistery of St. John. Reputedly the oldest Christian building in all of France, it is perhaps the most celebrated of the city’s many gems.
A quick trip to the Stade Poitevin is also well worth your time. The multi-sports club is home to a French pro-league volleyball team, as well as the city’s basketball, amateur football and professional rugby sides.
For something a little more futuristic, Futuroscope, the only leisure park of its kind in Europe, is a must see. Based on multimedia, cinematic futuroscope and amazing audio-visual displays, the park is full of 3-D and 4-D visual effects, with lots of live shows, games and open-air activities. The 60 hectares of grounds also provide the perfect setting to take a break from the action.
When young and old have had their thrills at the park, an impressive selection of gourmet restaurants serving traditional and international dishes awaits. An array of brasseries, pizzerias and creperies are also available and are ideal for refuelling on your way to discovering more of the delights that this city has to offer.