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Poitiers - A travel report by Elodie
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Poitiers,  France - flag France -  Poitou-Charentes
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oceanne's travel reports

Poitiers, City of a Hundred Steeples

  15 votes
One of my staunch favourites in the 86000 region of Poitou-Charente, It doesn’t actually ‘nestle’ as some major French towns do, more impose on the skyline and surrounding landscape.

With the two river winding through the valley, left by a glacier millennia ago, Poitiers has built itself a fortress-like centre ville situated atop an escarpment. The ring road that takes you north, gives views of the old part of the city, which was built on the cliff face of the ravine that drops to the river some distance below. You cannot image actually living in one of those precarious little boxes… The architecture on this side of the river is more imposing, and the grandeur of Poitiers Hotel de Ville is a pure statement. A new shopping mall 'Cordelia's'has been cleverly hidden off La Place de Leclerc and sits snugly between the original buildings. The clothes shops, the chocolatieres, the bookshops and the cafes in a pedestrianised area, make the shopping area a joy. Wandering through the narrow streets, bumping into people while you look up, taking in the medieval architecture. 'Il est dangereuse!' Sit down to have your ice cream!
La Place de Notre Dame behind the shopping mall is a veritable junction, in the centre of which is the Office de Tourisme and L’eglise de Notre Dame, which is of particular architectural interest, part of the newly cleaned and restored front stone façade, which is now even more impressive, has a display of young JC in a bath! around the back of the church; more chocolatieres, patisseries, gorgeous cafes, and a regular market, where books, clothes, local goats cheeses and fish are on display. Street buskers, musicians and entertainers during the summer months all add to make this city a delight. Walking back up La Place de Leclerc, the temperature seems to rise as you get nearer to the Square in the centre. The shops here are quite sheltered from the heat of midsummer, which makes it even more pleasant. One Saturday in the month there is a huge street market where street traders descend on the town, putting up stalls in front of the shops. Not to be taken advantage of, the shops reciprocate and put their stalls up first!

Favourite spots:
Ibis Hotel is pas cher et bonne!
Ibis Hotel is pas cher et bonne!
La Café de la Pais on the corner of La Place' is an ideal place to rest. Under the canopy of canvas and trees which surround three sides of the square de ville, people watching is a wonderful pastime. Interspersed by short intakes of breath as you watch your waiter, tray above his head, loaded with drinks and food, tiptoeing and sidestepping the speeding traffic and buses as he crosses the road between the Café and your table!

What's really great:
My favourite time of the year in Poitiers has to be Christmas and New Year; the French really know how to do it! When it is cold and bright; and the window-shopping is over. Snow flurries gently deposit cold flakes into the cup of hot mulled wine nestling in your mittens as you saunter between the covered Christmas market stalls; brightly lit with all manner of feasts for your eyes and wallet, listening to the children laughing and screaming with delight as they tumble and get up again, soaked from the wetness of the ice skating rink which is set up in the square every year. With the imposing backdrop of the Hotel de Ville it is just so picturesque, you almost feel part of a painting!

Most of the sightseeing must take place 'a pied' Behind the Hotel de Ville and down the winding narrow streets, museums, churches, chapels, interesting little entry ways where you may not dream of walking but hide all manner or interesting shops, and little market stalls. Poitiers is in a state of flux right now with a lot of local development, just off the city centre towards 'la gare' especially. on the southern part of the ring road there lies the shopping area of superstores, toystores, gardening and bricolage, The hospital and University. is also there.

The Ibis Hotel is modern and reasonable, There is secure car parking to the side of the hotel. Other accommodation in the city centre is there for the asking. Further north out towards futuroscope there is a cluster of hotels ranging from the standard 35euro per night to the blatantly expensive! Accommodations standards are always high wherever you may choose. Breakfast is not always included but is worth the centimes just to watch and smile at the French children who pour their chocolat chaude over their cereal think! but I drew the line at letting my lot do the same!

On the main square are situated two cinemas, including a multiplex, a theatre and a discotheque as well as live entertainment in some of the bars and bistros within walking distance.

My favourite hangouts are outside chocolatieres and patisseries!

Oh YES!! But I cannot say if I have eaten in all of them yet!

Other recommendations:
Futuroscope is a futuristic theme park with lots of high tech displays, 3D Cinema where you have to remind yourself you are not REALLY bungee jumping into a ravine! Several new shows have been lately introduced. Well worth the visit. there is nothing like it anywhere else.

Published on Tuesday June 6th, 2006

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Tue, Jun 06 2006 - 11:15 PM rating by marianne

Welcome to Globo and so nice of you to start writing straight away. You gave a very good description of Poitiers, what to do and what to see. If possible, could you add some photos? (Simply click on 'edit this report' and you can change and add to your report).
This report is well-written and a very good read.

Tue, Jun 06 2006 - 12:27 PM rating by quikflikchiq

Hi Elodie, lovely report but would so much better if we could see what you were talking about - will you post some photos?

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