Sunday, August 7, 2022

Poitiers summer fun

French Village Diaries Poitiers summer fun
Place du Maréchal Leclerc, Poitiers

HoliDAYS out and about: Poitiers

This summer, rather than going away for a holiday we are making the most of our holiDAYS out and about, mostly involving the bikes. The first of these was an afternoon in Poitiers, where the relaxed groups of tourists milling around with maps, ensured there was a feel of holidays in the air.


There are certain things we like to do on holiday; ride our bikes, sit outside at a café, enjoy warm sunny weather, eat patisseries, drink cold beer and see the sights. I’m pleased to say, we managed all of these in just one afternoon in Poitiers.

French Village Diaries Poitiers summer fun
Lunch on a terrace, Poitiers 2022


We lunched in the main square with the imposing Hôtel du Ville watching over us, as we people-watched the constant flow of activity around us. We might have had the intention of grabbing a quick croque monsieur, but with a menu offering steak frites, followed by a chocolate éclair and a coffee (that came with a biscuit) for less than 12€ each, our resolve crumbled. Seated outside, there was more than enough room for our bikes to join us without getting in the way and the distance between the tables was safe and reassuring. The creamy blossoms of the Japanese Pagoda tree fell like confetti on us, the table, and added a certain something to the salad that accompanied our steak frites. We then set off for a short twelve-kilometre city tour by bike.

French Village Diaries Poitiers summer fun
Aliénor d'Aquitaine, Poitiers

This year Poitiers is celebrating the 900th anniversary of Aliénor d’Aquitaine, who (I believe) is the only person to hold both the title of Queen of France and Queen of England. The impressive Palais that is at the heart of the medieval city, was where the Counts of Poitou and the Duchy of Aquitaine held their courts. I haven’t had time so far this summer to book into any of the events being organised but seeing this artwork on the grand steps up to Palais reminded me to check out the calendar, as I really enjoyed the office du tourisme’s guided love-theme walk. 

French Village Diaries Poitiers summer fun
Parc du Blossac, Poitiers


Despite the tourists in the town centre, we had the beautiful Parc de Blossac, that dates from the eighteenth century, almost to ourselves. It’s central fountain and wide tree-lined boulevards, with a bandstand and views over the ramparts feel very Parisian to me and are perfect for enjoying on a bike, but the more intimate Jardin à l'Anglaise and small animal park are best explored on foot. If you look closely on the old stone walls there is evidence of the Nazi occupation, a swastika, and the date 1940, plus a German eagle, carved into the stone at one of the strategic viewpoints over the river. A reminder that the park was requisitioned as a parade ground for the many garrisons of soldiers stationed in the vicinity.

French Village Diaries Poitiers summer fun
Church of St Hilaire le Grand, Poitiers

We also took advantage of the cool interiors of some of the churches in Poiters, including the church of St Hilaire le Grand (who was the first bishop of Poitiers). This impressive Romanesque church has been welcoming pilgrims on Chemins de St Jacques for hundreds of years and I’m always delighted when my path crosses this ancient pilgrimage route.

French Village Diaries Poitiers summer fun
Poitiers viewed from the cycle lane flyover


In more recent years, Poitiers has come on a long way in terms of being an eco-city and somewhere that is cycle and pedestrian friendly. In our early years in France, on the odd occasion we did venture into the town centre, around family airport or station drop-offs, we quickly remembered why we rarely bothered. It was difficult to access, impossible to park and noisy and unpleasant to walk anywhere because of the constant traffic. The main square becoming pedestrianised was one of the best things they have done, topped only by the fact that the best view of the city is now one that is reserved exclusively for cyclists. It is a city panorama, from the flyover, where two out of the three lanes are now car free. Cycling into town from Ed and Pearl’s flat is a joy. Poitiers took the decision a few years ago, to drastically reduce car access into the city and now the town centre is a hive of people, happily shopping and socialising in the car-free streets. More towns need to follow this example.

Vive l’active travel!

You might also like my holiDAYS out in Melle and Celles-sur-Belle post. 



  1. This is absolutely lovely -- your time in Poitiers looks just delightful (and delicious, too!) What a grand time you had!


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