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Poitiers - City of Culture at the Heart of France

Mar 4, 2008
Sited for seemingly an eternity in the heart of France, the city of Poitiers is relatively tiny by today's standards, with a population of only around 130000. However this tiny city is strategically located, being only an hour's train journey from Paris and not far from the Atlantic coast. It is thus a major economic center, plus a most pleasing tourist destination.

Poitiers is also famous for several battles which bear its illustrious name. In the first battle, the Visigoths under Alaric II were vanquished by King Clovis I of France in AD 507. In the second battle of Poitiers, Charles Martel in his turn defeated the Moors in 732 AD. But perhaps the most well-known Battle of Poitiers was in 1356, when the Black Prince of England defeated the French army under King John.

Poitiers is also well-known as an ancient university city. In fact the University of Poitiers was founded as early as 1431, and has been the destination of many of the greatest European philosophers and academics for centuries. Indeed the University of Poitiers, with its faculties of science, history, geography, languages and school of engineering, is one of the major university cities of France, with students making up about 14% of the entire population.

In the summer months, the main tourist season, Poitiers is also home to a multitude of theatrical spectacles. Many of these spectacles are free and take place in the many public areas, including the numerous gardens and squares. But there isn't just theatre - besides the many street theatre performances there are also a whole variety of artistic events and also balls and public debates held in cafes, often under the concept of "philo-cafe" or "philosophical caf". As you can see, the summertime sees a real flourishing of entertainment of all types!

Poitiers is also home to several museums, galleries and exhibition centers. Of particular note is the Baptistry of St John which houses an important collection of sculptures and tombs from the Carolingian and Merovingian eras.

Dance also plays a major part in the cultural life of the city of Poitiers. Dance in all its forms and guises takes place throughout the year in a range of interesting and exciting spectacles, including various festivals of Dance. But this is not limited to classical dance - contemporary dance is also well represented, resulting in a full programme which generates much interest with citizens, students and tourists alike.

As for theatre, Poitiers and the theatre are a real love story, whether your interest is amateur or professional. With more than twenty theatre companies, a rich and diverse programming, festivals, meetings between the public, artists actors and directors, theatrical creations in Poitiers always play a major role in the life of the city. And for all this artistic activity, a large and appreciative audience is always guaranteed.

To visit Poitiers and not visit the internationally renowned Futuroscope Park, would be a great error, since Futuroscope is one of the major attraction of France as a whole. It is certainly an ideal venue for short-duration holidays if you have children in-tow. Not only is this European Park of the Image fascinating as an entertainment spectacle, but also from an educational perspective, with much of the latest imaging technology making its first appearance at the park before being deployed elsewhere in the world.

Justly known as the "city of a hundred bells", Poitiers is home to 78 protected monuments in its center alone. From imposing monuments, Romanesque churches, pretty medieval streets, wood-clad houses, Haussmann-style boulevards, and contemporary architecture, each poque has left its mark. So in Poitiers you will find a veritable treasury of architecture from throughout the centuries.

As for food, Poitiers certainly isn't lacking in that area, since the many restaurants combine the best of both traditional country dishes and urban sophistication. Here you can eat as sophisticated or as rural as you like, with the traditional Poitiers farci dish holding pride of place. But don't be surprised (or indeed afraid) at the many dishes available containing the ubiquitous frogs, snails and eels. This is France after all!

So, if the city excites your interest, if Roman art touches you, if you are passionate about history, if culture transports you... it's clear that the city of Poitiers and you are destined to meet. We wish you a wonderful time in this beautiful and interesting city.
About the Author
For further information on France, the French lifestyle and Perpignan in French, please visit Rencontres Perpignan at Antonio Bonito's QuePourToi.com rencontres coquines web site.
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