Poitiers Things to Do

  • Cathedral St. Pierre
    Cathedral St. Pierre
    by DSwede
  • Self guided walking paths
    Self guided walking paths
    by DSwede
  • Baptistère Saint-Jean
    Baptistère Saint-Jean
    by Andrew_W_K

Most Recent Things to Do in Poitiers

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    Cathedral St. Pierre is lopsided

    by DSwede Updated Jul 30, 2010

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    Cathedral St. Pierre

    When you walk upon Cathedral St. Pierre, you will appreciate its magnitude, its royalty and attention to detail. However if you focus on the details, you may note that sometimes it appears to be a patchwork of various building and styles.

    For example, the left tower has four short sections while the right tower has three tall sections. And each of the tower sections has different number of supporting arches. The three doorways are of different sizes and slightly different shapes. The vaulted stained glass above each door also has asymmetrical arches and circular portals.

    All of these and more can be attributed to the idea that the design and construction was intended to make it more human. After all, the adage is that it to err is human, to forgive is divine. If the Church was perfectly constructed, it would not be characteristic of man.

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    Self Guided Walking Tours

    by DSwede Written Jul 23, 2010

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    Self guided walking paths

    If you stop in the tourist offices, such as at the train station, or if you get a tourist map at many of the hotels, you may notice they have colored circuits on them.

    If you don't have a map, there are some on sign boards such as on the east side of the Plaza by the Hotel d Ville (City Hall).

    Walking these circuits and reading the historical markers along the way will give you a great introduction to the city and provide you with a wonderful opportunity for photos, history, shopping and leisure.

    Simply locate the colored markers painted on the streets and side walks and follow. They run in full circuit, so you will always come back around to where you started.

    The photo on this tip shows where the three different paths all cross in the old town center.

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    Best Panoramic View

    by DSwede Written Jun 27, 2010

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    Escalier des Dunes

    If you have your walking shoes on, there is a fantastic panoramic viewpoint of the city and encompassing river.

    You can get there by driving over the Pont Neuf bridge, then up the hill to the Notre Dame de dunes observation point. However, I feel that the walk is both refreshing and more rewarding since you can take your time, see the small streets and old corridors.

    If on foot, the best way to get there is to walk down the Grand Rue. Keep going straight at the bottom of the hill and cross the Point Joubert. Immediately there after, the driving street ends, but the pedestrian street continues. Keep going straights on the walking corridor Escalier des Dunes and climb the long stair case.

    My photo here is of the Escalier des Dunes. The panorama you achieve by climbing here is the front picture on my Poitiers overview page.

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    The Palace of Justice in Poitiers

    by Andrew_W_K Written Sep 7, 2009

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    The Palace of Justice in Poitiers

    As you walk along Rue Marche Notre Dame just off the Place Charles de Gaul you will see the Palais de Justice. Although it looks (and is largely medieval) the facade is actually 19th century.
    The palace was originally the seat of the Counts of Poitou (the region around Poitiers) and the Dukes of Aquitaine (who would be united with the English crown when Henry III and Eleanor of Aquitaine married).
    The building of today, although much restored and changed over the centuries, is an impressive monument to Poitiers important role in French and English history.

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    St. Porchaire

    by Andrew_W_K Updated Sep 6, 2009

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    St. Porchaire Poitiers

    All that remains of the Norman church of the 12th century is the tower that sits somewhat incongruously between modern shop facades on the Rue Saint-Porchaire.
    The rest of the church that you cannot see from the street was rebuilt in the 16th century.

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    Notre Dame la Grande

    by Andrew_W_K Updated Sep 6, 2009

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    Notre Dame la Grande Poitiers
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    This is one of those places that I'm destined to have bad luck at. When I went for the first time in 1993 the whole building was covered in boarding and scaffolding as a restoration project was under way. When I returned in 2009 a wedding was in progress so I couldn't go in!
    What I can tell you though is that it is the best church in Poitiers and one of the finest in all of France.
    A mixture of Romanesque and Byzantine in style it dates from the 10th century and has a wonderful facade with it's two conical towers flanking it's sculptured facade.
    Alas I cannot tell you about the interior but on my next visit....

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    The Cathedral of St. Pierre

    by Andrew_W_K Updated Sep 6, 2009

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    St. Pierre cathedral Poitiers
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    Not the most picturesque or spectacular cathedral in France (in fact it is overshadowed by at least 2 better churches in Poitiers) but a worthwhile building to visit nonetheless.
    It was actually begun in the 12th century by King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitane (House of Angevin).
    Mainly gothic in style there are Romanesque elements to it as well. The exterior is fairly plain for a French gothic cathedral but the inerior has wonderful high columns and stained glass windows.

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    The Statue of Liberty

    by Andrew_W_K Updated Sep 6, 2009

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    Poitiers Statue of Liberty

    Head north from the Place Charles de Gaul in the centre of Poitiers, down Rue des Flageolles and you come to the fairly unremarkable Place de la Liberté.
    Once the scene of bloody Guillotines during the revolution the Place now contains a quirky tourist attraction in a replica Statue of Liberty cast by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi the designer of the original that stands in New York.
    It is worth seeking out if you are in town just for the novelty factor alone.

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    Baptistère Saint-Jean

    by Andrew_W_K Updated Sep 6, 2009

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    Baptist��re Saint-Jean
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    The second oldest church in France (some websites claim it to be the oldest but there is an older one in Metz) dating from the 4th century.
    The baptistery has had a somewhat chequered history suffering damage at the hands of the Visigoths in the 5th century to being abandoned during the revolution before being siezed from the church and used as a warehouse.
    The church was saved from destruction in the 19th century by local petition and was finally restored in the 20th century and is an interesting little church to visit.
    The frescoes inside date from the 12th-14th centuries and are worth the small entrance fee of 1 Euro 50 (half price for children) as at 2009.

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    Futuroscope

    by Andrew_W_K Updated Sep 6, 2009

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    Futuroscope
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    Just 5 or 6 of miles north of Poitiers and well signposted from anywhere in the area is the theme park of Futuroscope. The theme here is the moving image in a variety of different and unusual cinemas.
    The huge format Imex screens where the resolution is so real you could be there or the virtual reality glasses that allow you to interact with the action. Then there is the screen that opens before you and under your feet as you fly with eagles, several 3D dome cinemas and the simulators where the seats move with you as you race through the streets of San Francisco or the French countryside are all great places to visit.
    There are so many attractions you need a 2 day ticket to get around everything but it's really worth it. In the evening there is a spectacular fireworks and laser show on the lake that serves as an amphitheatre. 2009 price for a 2 day ticket is 66 euros for adults and 45 for children.
    I first went in September 1993 and was impressed by the unusual nature of the park and surprised at how popular it was. I returned again in September 2009 where I found all the films had been updated, many new attractions added and surprisingly far fewer people.
    I was glad that there were fewer people as we didn't have to queue for anything but I imagine it would be very different in July and August.
    The laser show had also been changed but was as spectacular as ever.
    A definate must do attraction if you have kids.

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    St.-Hilaire: Look At Its Romanesque Art Treasures

    by hquittner Written Jul 14, 2009

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    The Mosaic Floored Transept
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    There are other objects of interest in the East end of the church. The transept serves as an antealtar with a rare and well designed mosaic floor. The expanse of the church width is best appreciated here. It is sealed off from the periphery by an elaborate 12C ironwork grill. On the left a carved capital on the first north nave column shows the burial of St.-Hilaire. Nearby is a massive carved stone statue of the Trinity with God wearing a tiara, holding a Jesus crucified with a Dove above Him.

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    St.-Hilaire: Look At Its Romanesque Art Treasures

    by hquittner Written Jul 14, 2009

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    The Mosaic Floored Transept
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    There are other objects of interest in the East end of the church. The transept serves as an antealtar with a rare and well designed mosaic floor. The expanse of the church width is best appreciated here. It is sealed off from the periphery by an elaborate 12C ironwork grill. On the left a carved capital on the first north nave column shows the burial of St.-Hilaire. Nearby is a massive carved stone statue of the Trinity with God wearing a tiara, holding a Jesus crucified with a Dove above Him.

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    St.-Hilaire : Ascend to the Altar and Choir (4)

    by hquittner Written Jul 14, 2009

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    The Raised Altar and Choir
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    The choir , altar and transept are elevated by a crypt containing the relics of St.-Hilaire. The choir is separated from the ambulatory by an 8 column arched hemicycle with a slightly curved vault. Above the arches are 12C frecos. On the piers at the edge of the transept are portrait frescos of Bishops of Poitiers. There are 4 chapels radiating from the ambulatory.

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    St.-Hilaire: Enter the Church (3)

    by hquittner Written Jul 14, 2009

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    Nave View Toward Altar
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    The original church had a very wide nave and aisles, which were easily covered by a wooden roof. It was the pilgrimage church in Poitiers on the Road to Compostela. A severe fire in the mid-12C demanded a stone roof. The nave was covered in the regional manner with a set of octagonal cupolas on pendentives which required installation of two rows of columns in the nave braced to the original columns. The wide aisles were covered by groin vaulting but again each required another set of central columns. As a result we see a seven aisle church. The left (north) aisle incorporated the base of the massive belfry (which is a sort of Sacristy). All of this forest of columns leads to a raised transept and chevet that sit above a crypt containing the relics of St.-Hilaire.

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    See the Outside Stonework on St.-Hilaire (2)

    by hquittner Written Jul 13, 2009

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    Four Bishops
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    In spite of the ancient damages to the church, most of the primitve 11-12C stone carving was spared and often remains in situ both inside and outside the church. On the outside there are capitals on the applied half-columns of the apse chapels and modillons at the roof lines and along horizontal courses. Beneath the gable of the north transept under a columed arcade are statues of 4 celebrated bishops. Throughout, there is fine but worn evidences of stone dressing of doors, windows and arches.

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Poitiers Things to Do

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