Poitou-Charentes is a tranquil and largely unspoilt region halfway down the West coast. Its long Atlantic coastline has fine sandy beaches, pretty marinas and bustling resorts. There are a number of beautiful islands such as the nineteen-mile long Ile d'Oléron which is popular with naturists and whose main industry is oyster catching. Another island, Ile de Ré is known for its salt marshes and is reputed to receive more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in France away from the Mediterranean. A bridge linking it with the mainland makes it easily accessible to outsiders, to the chagrin of residents who feel that the island's previous pleasant seclusion has gone and traffic has hugely increased. On the mainland Royan, at the southern tip of the region, is a busy tourist resort with five well-kept but congested beaches, or conches as they are referred to. With its lovely beaches, pretty pleasant interior and mild climate, it is certainly a good place for a second or permanent home.
An Inland With Lots on Offer
Poitou-Charentes' inland has also plenty of assets. The Marais Poitevin (marshes) are often dubbed 'France's Venice' (some tourist guides call it the "Green Venice"). The serene and lush expanse of fields can be explored by rowing boat or kayak along the canals built by eleventh century monks. The town of Cognac is a popular place to visit. Here visitors can sample the world famous brandy and learn about the distilling process. Close to Poitiers is the Futuroscope theme park where cinema and special effects are pushed to their limit whilst providing an educational experience. They allow the visitors to project themselves in the future thanks to an innovative visual technology. It is also said to have the biggest screen in Europe.
Farming plays a significant part in the region's wealth and dominant crops in the area are wheat, corn, melons and sunflowers. Dairies and vineyards are also not negligeable inputs for the local economy. Away from agriculture, there are many industries producing machinery and chemicals. Niort, in the departement of Deux-Sèvres, is well-known throughout France for being the main centre of the French insurance industry.
- Population: 1,640,068
- Pop.density (people per km2): 64