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Regions of France - Poitou-Charentes

Sandy beaches, golden sunflower fields, elegant châteaux and pretty villages, the Poitou-Charentes is not just beautiful, it's also full of things to see and do. The coastal area of the region is the sunniest part of France after the Mediterranean coastal areas and the climate is very mild making it an attractive spot for locals and holiday makers alike.

In south-western France, Poitou-Charentes includes four departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne.

While Poitiers is the capital of the region, the port of La Rochelle rivals it in economic importance. The region is mainly rural and farming is very important to the economy; wheat, corn and cattle are raised. Oysters are also one of the local specialties. Industries produce machinery, chemicals and dairy products.

So what should you put on your must see list if you are visiting the region?

Poitiers is an old hill-town with an attractive old centre. The city is most famous for its ancient churches, including the mediaeval frescoes in St. John's Baptistry, reputedly the oldest place of Christian worship in France, and the Notre-Dame la Grande church, one of the most famous and distinctive romanesque churches in France.

Le Marais Poitevin - Venise verte. "Green Venice" covers much of the sea-level flat land inland from the coast. It is an area of slow moving rivers and channels, woods and fields. Boating and kayaking, angling, rambling and riding are among popular activities here. There is a good network of marked cycle tracks.

Futuroscope theme park, just north of Poitiers, opened in 1986, and is one of the twenty most visited attractions in France with an average of over 1.5 million visitors a year. This future-based theme park is famous for its variety of high-tech cinemas including IMAX and 3D

Cognac. Visit the great cognac houses and the cognac and pineau cellars. Of course, tastings of this world famous distilled brandy are a must.

La Rochelle. This historic Altlantic port city, with mediaeval fortifications is full of history. Or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gorgeous alleyways of shops, stopping for the freshest seafood in the many restaurants along the waterfront. The Aquarium at la Rochelle is one of the 20 most visited attractions in France.

Iles de Ré and Oléron are popular offshore islands, accessible via road bridges from the mainland.