Poitou-Charentes – Impressions & Reflections

The excitement and anticipation prior to visiting a new, never before experienced destination is one of the great joys of travelling. This ‘joy of travel’ is always the same for me whether enjoying an independent or sponsored trip.

The harbour of La Rochelle at night in the Poitou-Charentes region of France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

La Rochelle harbour and town at night

Wine is available to buy in Charente-Maritiem, France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Wine is available to buy in France, ain’t that a surprise

Whilst all destinations offer something special and different, some destinations genuinely exceed any expectations, for me the region of Poitou-Charentes falls into this category.

Fresh oysters at the La Rochelle market in Poitou-Charentes in France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Fresh oysters at the market

Sailing at sunset near La Rochelle in the Charente-Maritime, France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Sailing at sunset near La Rochelle

It is a region overflowing with Gallic sophistication, simplicity and beauty, cities, towns and villages alike have many lovely and historic buildings and homes. Wandering through their streets is often like travelling back in time as they seem to hark back to a bygone era.

In the cities many grand buildings line the well kept streets, while the smaller villages can be breathtakingly quaint filled with small often immaculate white-washed cottages. Every home seems to have pastel coloured wooden shutters and flowers such as hollyhocks climbing their walls. They are often dominated by grand churches with immense steeples that seem to reach the very sky.

There is a great deal to see, the cities of La Rochelle with its picturesque harbour and historic Rochefort are obvious attractions. Much of the region is built on reclaimed marshland and a boat trip in the wetlands of the Marais Poitevin ‘Green Venice’ is an idyllic way to spend an afternoon or even a day.

I’lè de Ré however is for me the ‘jewel in the crown’ ideal for bicycle touring it is dotted with countless picture postcard villages and its ‘capital’ built around its harbour is probably the prettiest of them all. Lighthouses, small windmills, local produce markets, long dramatic beaches swept continuously by Atlantic winds, boutique hotels, and small, chic restaurants all add to the charm.

Star of the La Rochelle aquarium in the Poitou-Charentes region of France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Not the regions best looking attraction

It is not all high-end travel however the island also has over thirty campsites for those on a slightly tighter budget. Leave the car at home, pack a tent and grab the bikes, a mini adventure is almost guaranteed.

Hollyhocks on the beach on I’lè de Ré in the French Charente-Maritime region on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Hollyhocks on the beach

It probably sounds as if I am gushing about this place and it cannot possibly be that perfect, was there anything wrong at all? It feels more luxury than budget travel destination, those looking for budget options will need to do plenty of research and be very selective in their choices if they wish to remain ‘travel thrifty’.

Boats on the beach at I’lè de Ré in Poitou-Charentes in France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Boats on the beach

The food is almost too good and it requires a great deal of walking around many small towns to work off all those extra calories consumed. Probably a good thing then that it always seems hard to resist just taking one more peek around yet one more corner in every town and village, there always appears to be something worthy of this curiosity.

The weather was occasionally unpredictable during the stay there, but then it is almost autumn.

There is no need to take my word for it though; I am going to let the pictures tell the full story. Just browse the images and see if they do not seem to shout out ‘must visit’ destination to you too!

This was a trip organised by the Poitou-Charentes Tourism Board and my thanks to them for letting me visit their lovely region of France.

Exploring the backstreets of St Martin, capital of I’lè de Ré in Poitou-Charentes in France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Exploring the backstreets of St Martin

The harbour of St Martin, capital of I’lè de Ré in Charente-Maritime in France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

St Martin harbour


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Comments 15

  1. Simon

    Lovely article and beautiful photos, Iain.

    Thanks for letting me know about a beautiful region which, I confess, was not on my radar. Now… It definitely is!

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      Iain

      Thank you Simon I am glad it has inspired you to hopefully take a visit sometime soon, the areas we visited were certainly very beautiful indeed.

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  2. nick

    You’ve actually covered the Charente-Maritime really. The nice bit. Go inland and you find a dept with the highest number of French fleeing it for a new life anywhere else. No jobs, no money, no future. It’s not a wine region and agriculture is hard and limited to sunflowers and maize.

    The towns are closing down in a very sad way. The Ile de Re is the playground of rich Parisians but it is as indicative of what the region is really like as Rock is of Cornwall.

    Ile d’Oleron is better by the way, less chance of being cycled over by a Parisian family who won’t even notice you are in their path! Better places to eat too and less expensive

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      Iain

      Thanks Nick, realise it may specifically be the Charente-Maritime and the nice bit but it was a visit sponsored by the Poitou-Charentes Tourism Board to promote the area. It was not intended as a social comment on the area and can only report on what I observed, though if there had been anything negative to mention I would have.

      This is of course the difference between a personal trip and a sponsored trip we visit a destination under the auspices of a specific agency and are only going to visit the places they wish us to. A personal trip allows more freedom to explore and maybe discover a little more than what is immediately visible and also stray beyond the ‘tourist’ areas.

      It was relatively quiet due to the lateness of the season hence I did not get cycled over by any Parisian families.

  3. inka

    Seeing that we have been exchanging tweets on the subject I had to come visit and look at this wonderful post and pictures of yours. The region is so ‘French’m more so than any other part of France. I stayed in a hotel in Rochefort which had a miniature four poster bed in the lobby. So cute.

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      Iain

      Hi Inka glad you took the time to comment and glad you enjoyed the post. I really enjoyed the lap of luxury there to be perfectly honest but also followed it up with a trip to the Haute-Pyrenees which just finished it off nicely.

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  4. Lucie

    This is alays weird to see our own region through the eye of a traveller, but I’m really glad you enjoyed it. It is indeed beautiful and full of discoveries…

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  5. Andrew

    Absolutely love the sail boat picture. I don’t really get to France very often, which I guess is a shame. This area looks great, and I like watching the sea from under and umbrella.

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