The beautiful Vienne Department is one of the best kept secrets of south-west France. This is the land where Eleanor of Aquitaine lived. Her marriage to King Henry II brought the whole of the southwest of France under English rule. With sleepy towns and villages dotted around, the Vienne is criss-crossed by the river Vienne and the Charente and is a paradise for anyone with a love of watersports, walking in beautiful unspoiled countryside or riding on horseback.

Main Attractions In Vienne

Notre-Dame la Grande Romanesque ChurchPoitiers: The city of Poitiers is the capital of the Vienne department and also of the Poitou-Charentes region. It is also a major university centre. The picturesque centre and streets include wonderfully historical architecture especially of the religious kind from the Romanesque period. Two sites that any visitor to Poitiers should not miss are: the Notre-Dame la Grande church, undoubtedly one of the most famous and distinctive romanesque churches in the whole of France (photo right) and St. John’s Baptistry with its magnificent medieval frescoes, generally agreed to be the oldest place of Christian worship in France.

Two very important battles took place near the city: the first in 732 was the Battle of Poitiers sometimes referred to as the Battle of Tours. In this conflict, Charles Martel led the Franks to victory and in the process halted the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate. The second of these great battles is also known as the Battle of Poitiers and this took place in 1356. This was a major victory for the English forces during the Hundred Years’ War.

Chauvigny: is built on a rocky spur beside the River Vienne just to the east of Poitiers. In the medieval quarter of this fascinating town are to be found five impressive castles and a Romanesque church. Unsurprisingly the town is often referred to as the town of the five castles. Chauvigny is a busy market town where you’ll be able to sample some of the local fare including oysters, prawns, crayfish and numerous, mouth-watering cheeses!

FuturoscopeFuturoscope, or Parc du Futuroscope: (Above) Situated 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of Poitiers. This world-renowned theme park is based upon multimedia, cinematographic futuroscope and fascinating audio-visual techniques. It boasts several 3D cinemas and added recently, a few 4D cinemas along with other attractions and shows. Some of the shows will not be seen anywhere else in the world and the great thing is that Futuroscope educates whilst it entertains. Here, young and old can share the experiences – and the memories alike. The park  can be easily accessed from Poitiers airport and by shuttle bus from the city centre and there is unlimited parking for motorists as well as a range of on-site hotels. Futuroscope usually only closes in January. Official Website

St Savin sur Gartempe: this is a UNESCO world heritage site, here you will find a romanesque abbey church with a truly remarkable collection of medieval frescoes.
Fishing in the Vienne
Outdoor Activities

Any keen fisherman will find that the Charente and vienne rivers are well-stocked with pike, trout, bream and many other varieties of fish. If you need to buy a licence then you can generally do so in bars or fishing tackle shops.

If you’re into watersports then the rivers and lakes of the Vienne have many large stretches of water suitable for canoeing and also for those of the less energetic nature there are many nice sandy beach areas on which to relax.

Horseriding is also very popular well catered for in the Vienne region with miles of off-track roads to be explored. Finally futures like a good walk then you should buy a book of ‘randonnees’ (walks) which will help you navigate your way through the beautiful local countryside.