Poitiers in the Poitou - Charentes

Poitiers is known as a charming traditional city that doesn’t suffer from mass tourism yet.
This city - located in the Poitou-Charentes area - has a beautiful centre with gorgeous churches, picturesque streets and cosy terraces. But that’s not all, the city has a unique history as well.

History Poitiers

Throughout the centuries, Poitiers fulfilled an important economical and governmental role and developed itself into a religious centre. It became an important stopping place on the famous pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. During this time, the city’s most important monument - the Notre-Dame la Grande - was also constructed.

Church

The Notre-Dame la Grande is one of the most beautiful Romanesque constructions in France. The "grande" doesn’t refer to its size, but more to its quality. The church is decorated with beautiful statues. You can discover the meaning of the statues by looking at the board near the entrance of the church.

Rescue

The statue behind the altar (Notre-Dame des Clefs) has a unique history. This statue was created after the rescue of the city in 1202. In that year, the English besieged Poitiers and were able to bribe a senior official to steal the keys to the city from the mayor. However, when he entered the room in the evening, the keys were gone. Moments later, the mayor also discovered that the keys were not in their usual place. He feared there was treachery at play. In a panic, he decided to visit the church to pray for a miracle. When he arrived in the church, he found the keys next to a statue of Maria. The English knew that due to a divine intervention they had no chance in conquering the city and abandoned the siege. This story is also told in stained-glass windows and on a table from the seventeenth century.

City

The cosy city centre is very atmospheric. It is full of small terraces where you can enjoy delicious regional cuisine. The kitchen is varied but simple in nature. The lamb of Poitou is famous in France, but the delicious Chabichou goat cheese is also excellent. It is recommended to combine it with a wine from the Haut-Poitou, the wine region northwest of Poitiers which has an AOC since 2011. Relatively unknown in the Netherlands, but these wines are nevertheless of excellent quality.

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