Poitou-Charentes, a frontier region in south-western France, is a very young province, established in 1956 and encompassing most of the former Poitou area, plus some smaller territories from the south. Some consider it the land of Cognac, as it is the southern part of this region that provides optimal conditions for the cultivation of the exact type of grapes required for the production of this fine, savoury spirit. No less famous is the Marais Poitevin, a sizeable wetland dubbed the “Green Venice” of France, or the Futuroscope in Poitiers, one of the largest leisure parks in France. It is bordered by Pays de la Loire to the north, Centre and Limousin to the east, Aquitaine to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Poitou-Charentes is thought to be the region that had the highest contribution to the settlement of North America by the French, as it was mainly immigrants from this part of France that founded what is now New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec or Newfoundland, amongst others. The process of colonization took place during the XVII and XVIII century, even though the year 1755 brought a massive expulsion of the French by the British, who pushed them northwards.
Poitou-Charentes, which spans over the central part of the Atlantic coastal plan, continued inland with an area of gentle hills, is centred on the ancient city of Poitiers, which still stands as its capital, and is further organized into four departments: Charente, renowned for the butter and the Pineaufortified wine manufactured here, but especially for the Cognac; Charente-Maritime, which includes the town of Rochefort, one of France’s critical naval bases; Deux-Sèvres, named after the two rivers that have their origins here, SèvreNantaise and SèvreNiortaise; and Vienne, home to the capital, Poitiers, as well as to a XI century Romanesque church, the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Not the least important of the attractions in Poitou-Charentes is the Marais Poitevin, an extended marshland that constitutes a choice destination for bird-watching or general outdoor adventures, or provides tourists with numerous other options of spending their free time, from guided tours in boats or horse-drawn carriages to canoeing, hiking or cycling.
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