Parthenay, a miniature version of Carcassonne

Parthenay, located in the Poitou – Charentes region, has many similarities with the Cité, the famous medieval castle in Carcassonne. The old town of Parthenay has kept its original medieval feel over the years. Small, winding streets such as Rue de-la-Vaux-Saint-Jacques are very characteristic medieval streets. They have beautiful half-timbered houses and Romanesque churches.

Fortified city on the Thouet

Parthenay is located by one of river Thouets bend. This point was chosen in the Middle Ages due to its advantageous position to defend the city. During the Hundred Years' War there was a lot of fighting in this area. Many villages and towns were destroyed, Parthenay however was not. The city was ransacked several times by the enemy. During the 17th century, the city was completely renovated and modernized. The beautiful bridges and squares that you can still admire today were built during the renovation.

Castle of Parthenay

During the 13th century a castle was built in Parthenay whose remains are still visible to this day. The castle was built on a rock by the side of the river. The castle was owned by the lords of Parthenay. A citadel was built around the castle which was only accessible through the Saint Jacques gate. The gate and the city walls are still largely intact. There is another gate at the other side of the city, the Tour de l'Horloge gate. Both gates have characteristic almond-shaped towers. In total, the citadel has over 30 defensive towers, 4 entrance gates and a defensive wall with a length of over 1km. A miniature version of Carcassonne!

Santiago de Compostela

Parthenay is an ancient pilgrimage stop on the route to Santiago de la Compostela. This is evident from the many religious buildings and monuments that can be found there. Notre Dame de la Couldres is a beautiful church from the 18th century that you should definitely visit. The Office du Tourisme offers a city walk which follows the route that pilgrims took through the city.

Cattle market

One of the largest cattle markets in  France is held in Parthenay every Wednesday morning. The cow market starts at 8 am and the sheep market at 9.30 am. Trade takes place on the "Forail de Bellevue" and has an area of 13,000 m2. At 7.30  am, a guided tour is given in Parthenay which even though it’s very early for a holiday, is definitely worth experiencing!

Parthenay 16 Gatine vakantie villa forges luxe festival ludique poitou charentes.jpg

Shopping, eating and drinking

If you want to go shopping you should go to Parthenay. On the outskirts of the city there is a shopping center with department stores. The center has plenty of shopping streets through which you can stroll. The main shopping street is the Rue Jean Jaurès and its side streets. The shops are interspersed with restaurants and bistros with cozy terraces. A market is also regularly held in the center.

Festivals in Parthenay

Various festivals are held in Parthenay every year. This ensures the city has a lively and happy atmosphere during most of the summer.

  • Festival Ludique International de Parthenay – This festival takes place annually in July and lasts around 10 days. All kinds of games are organized throughout the city for young and old. For this reason the festival is also known as the "games event". The games can be done individually but there are also games that you can do with a group of people or with the whole family.
  • Festival De Bouche à Oreille – This festival is held at the end of July and is centered around all kinds of bands and music performances. Both modern and traditional music is played there.

Must-visits in Parthenay

  • Chateau du Parthenay
  • Porte Saint-Jacques
  • Port de l'Horloge
  • Église Saint-Pierre de Parthenay-le-Vieux
  • Notre Dame de la Couldres
  • Maison des Cultures de Pays
  • Georges Turpin Museum
Back to the overview