The Poitou-Charentes is on France's Atlantic coast, and is the sunniest place on the western coast of France. It also boasts a 300 mile long stretch of fine, sandy beaches, so is a favourite in the summer months. Inland though, the serenity of the wooded valleys, canals and Cognac vineyards are hard to resist.
If you manage to tear yourself away from the beaches, sea and the restaurants of the coast, many of the regions famous Cognac producers open up for free tours to see how Cognac is still made to traditional recipes. Poitou-Charentes is a very flat picturesque region, meaning that it is hugely popular for cycling and touring. Bike hire is available from most towns, and a self-catering villa or holiday rental in Poitou-Charentes provides the ideal base for cycling, giving the flexibility and space required to have a cycling holiday. The futuristic theme park Futuroscope attracts visitors from across Europe.
Charente, has a very rural feel, and is the main Cognac producing region. It benefits from rolling hills, and the north of the area gets mountainous and is covered in deep forests, attracting walkers and mountain bikers of all abilities. Angouleme is the regions capital, a fortified town where you can still walk round the ramparts, although this is not advised in September, when the town is filled with the deep roar of the annual vintage car race.
Charente-Maritime is the coastal region of Poitou-Charentes, offering 300 miles of beaches. A villa or rental accommodation here acts as a great base to explore the islands of Re and Ile d'Arix.
Deux-Sevres is the fertile, arable farming centre of the department, littered with traditional market towns offering the finest produce and craftsmanship to be found. Connoisseurs of fine food should certainly not miss the restaurants of Niort and Parthenay. There is also a fascinating marshland national park at Marais Poiteuin.
Finally, Vienne is renowned for vibrant shopping and architectural masterpieces especially the Romanesque churches in Poitiers, the regions capital. Also, for a family holiday to Poitou-Charentes, the theme park Futurescope is certain to entertain.
The sunniest region of the west coast of France, Poitou-Charentes receives 2,000 hours of sun per year, with warm summers with temperatures around 27°C. Winters however are cold and wet, although this does little to discourage the use of holiday villas in the region.
Cheap flights from the UK land daily in La Rochelle (LRH), Nantes (NTE) and Poitiers (PIS) airports.