Futuroscope (seen here from the Aérobar) is rightly fêted as being one of the very best theme parks in Europe

From Cognac and countryside to an unmissable theme park, the region has something for everyone

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12 Cultural Highlights in Old Poitou-Charentes
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COGNAC

Tasting tours

Immerse yourself in the world of Cognac, explore the area’s lush vineyards and treat yourself to a dégustation with Cognac Tasting Tour. www.cognac-tasting-tour.com

Famous houses

Renowned maisons like Hennessy and Rémy Martin offer visitor experiences and tastings, while you can even try a master blender workshop at Camus. As for Martell, it has unveiled a cultural foundation with art exhibits. After taking in the thought-provoking art, head to the rooftop bar to sip a Cognac cocktail with 360-degree views over the historic town. www.tourism-cognac.com

Cognac vineyards

FAMILY FUN

Futuroscope

This theme park is brimming with entertainment and educational experiences. Its Extraordinary Voyage invites you to dangle your feet over the void as you float over the five continents. Then there’s the Sébastien Loeb Racing Experience, a thrilling VR drive with the nine-time World Rally champion; Dance with Robots (DJ Martin Solveig did the soundtrack), and a planetarium film reliving astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s year on the European Space Station. There’s even healthy ‘fast food’ by star chef Thierry Marx. Futuroscope updates its attractions every year, and its app provides real-time info on the queues. www.futuroscope.com

Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée

Host of the world-renowned bande dessinée festival, the ‘Comic Strip Capital’ of Angoulême boasts a wonderful museum dedicated to graphic novels, which stages interesting temporary exhibitions.You can also follow the Circuit des Murs Peints (Painted Walls Trail) and discover larger-than-life cartoon characters on 24 different murals around the city. (Maps available at the tourist office.) www.citebd.org

Take a tour of Angoulême to discover a world of comic strips

La Vallée des Singes

Without cages or fences, the inhabitants of the Valley of the Monkeys roam free and interact with visitors at this primate park in the Vienne département. There are more than 450 residents, including chimpanzees and bonobos. www.la-vallee-des-singes.fr

La Rochelle Aquarium

La Rochelle’s is hands down one of the finest aquariums in Europe. Come face to face with 12,000 marine animals from sharks to jellyfish. Don’t miss the Galerie des Lumières, and then grab a bite at the Café de l’Aquarium and admire sweeping views over the city of La Rochelle from its enormous glass windows. www.aquarium-larochelle.com

Falconry show

The Géants du Ciel (Giants of the Sky) falconry show takes place at the Château des Évêques (the Bishops’ Castle) in Chauvigny, a fortified medieval town with several important architectural landmarks for you to visit – before or after the show. www.geantsduciel.com

SPA

La Roche Posay

The cosmetics and beauty products of the eponymous brand – which harness the therapeutic powers of the thermal waters first discovered by a knight in the 14th century – are renowned around the world. Why not try out the spa at La Roche Posay? Visitors come to take the waters, try a detox programme, and get pampered in the spa. www.station-thermale-larocheposay.fr

Hire a traditional barque for a punt around the ‘Green Venice’ of the Marais Poitevin. Photo credit: Studio Francis/ CRTNA

ACTIVE PURSUITS

Marais Poitevin

Classified as a Grand Site de France, the ‘Green Venice’ is a large area of marshland that is a haven for diverse flora and fauna. From the village of Coulon, hire a traditional flat-bottomed barque to explore the canals and enjoy the verdant countryside and its inhabitants. www.visit-maraispoitevin.com

Island hopping

The larger islands of Charente-Maritime – Île d’Oléron and Île de Ré – offer lots of recreational activities like sailing, stand-up paddle-boarding and cycling. For those looking for some classic R&R, you’ll find ample opportunities for bronzing on the beach. Also consider a boat ride to Fort Boyard, the off-shore fortress built in the 19th century that hosts a popular French TV game show. www.holidays-iledere.co.uk www.oleron-island.com

SEASONAL

Animated crèche

During the Christmas season, the town of Bressuire in Deux-Sèvres showcases the remarkable Crèche Animée, created more than 50 years ago by the Abbé Rochard. The animated scene depicts a Palestinian village more than 2,000 years ago, populated with mechanical figures who will soon be blessed by the message of Noël. www.crecheanimee.fr

From France Today magazine

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t forget la Corderie Royale, where ships’ ropes were made. In Rochefort-sur-Mer, one can see interesting samples of incredibly strong ropes and cables, meant to support the huge sails of three-masters. Very satisfying visit!

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