Discovering Poitou Charentes


(Angela Weston) #1

It's often stated that France is five times bigger than England. If that's so, then it would probably be possible to fit England into Poitou Charentes. Why then does it always amaze me and other people I meet just how much the terrain changes within a short distance.



We, my hubby and myself, live in Moncontour on the border of Vienne and Deux Sevres. Surrounded by fields upon fields of sunflowers, melons and vineyards - as you travel along the main roads between the towns it often looks so flat. And yet if you journey just twenty minutes away towards Parthenay then the views are very different - the fields and surroundings are very English with hedgerows and fields of trees. Further to the south of the Vienne and your are heading to more mountainous regions.



However this little part of the Vienne can yield some great surprises - it is not as flat as it looks. Take a detour off the main routes, particularly if you follow the small rivers such as the Thouet and the Dive and you will find youself travelling down into little valleys or up into small craggy summits where you will find ruined abbeys, churches, castles or keeps, and manor houses. Beautiful villages such as Curcay sur Dive, St Generoux, St Chartres, Misse and our very own Moncontour.



If you would like more information take a look at our website www.legrandsaule.co.uk under the page 'local towns / area' or take a look at the website www.guide2poitoucharentes.com . The latter offer a wealth of information about the region and I also provide a write up once a month about the history and culture of the area.



By the way the local town of Loudun is famous and has a connection with Oliver Reed - anyone know what it is?


(Rachel Loos) #2

Rather infamous part of the world you live in!!!


(Angela Weston) #3

Hi Rachel
I came across your site quite recently - very informative.
We have lived in the Vienne for four years now, but previously lived in Brittany, having had a place there for some 15 years before moving. However we have travelled throughout most of France and are always amazed by the difference in scenery - and some of the most outstanding scenery.
As for films - our local town of Loudun is very famous. First made famous by Oliver Reed in the horribly, disgusting film ‘The Devils’. In fact the town celebrated its first ever festival of ‘The Devils’ this year. The story is of the priest in charge of the town there way back in the time of Cardinal Richelieu, who was persecuted and burnt at the stake for witchcraft.
It’s second claim to fame - and the film was screened on English tv with subtitles around about six months ago or more - was of the poisoness Marie Besnard - who is reported to have poisoned her husband (and around 20 other people) with arsenic. It was a huge case in the 1950’s which went to crown court in Poitiers. She was let off on a technicality, I believe, there was arsenic in the ground and so they couldn’t proove she had poisoned them.
Celebritywise - we are approximately 40 minutes south of Saumur and I believe Mick Jaggar is president of a cricket team there. I know that isn’t Poitou Charentes but we have a huge problem here in Moncontour - we are on the border of both Vienne and Deux Sevres, not far from the borders of Pays de Loire and the area that Saumur is in, and I believe Richelieu which is just 30 minutes from us is also in a different area. Our problem is in trying to advertise our BnB with the authorities just north of us - who we give ample advertising to.
By the way I have been shouting how great our area is too - I write monthly for www.guide2poitoucharentes.com - mostly about the little local towns that everyone misses because they are off the beaten track.


(Rachel Loos) #4

I so agree Angela - the countryside in this region is spectacular with something to suit everyone! This is one of the key reasons we launched www.discover-poitou-charentes.com We have lived in the Charente for seven years now (how times flies!) and decided it was about time someone shouted about how great it is. Your gîtes look lovely too…
Interestingly, the Poitou-Charentes is now becoming a bit of a film centre with loads of films being shot here. Gérard Depardieu was here filming (in a food processing plant for La tête en friche!) and his daughter Julie. Kristin Scott Thomas said how much she loved Angouleme. Has anyone seen any stars in their travels? Johnny Depp on hols by the beach… now that would be nice!