Contribute something productive you reprobate!!

The leading English language magazine. Now covering Poitou-Charentes, Dordogne, Vendée and Haute-Vienne too!

Living magazine distribution map

Going to Town - a trip to Poitiers

Going to Town - a trip to Poitiers

Feel the need for a revitalising change of scenery? Newly-transformed Poitiers offers real city buzz, along with some inspiring cultural events

Poitiers-France

Almost half the population of Poitiers is aged below 30, a reflection not only on the city’s 24,000 students, but also the many more young people attracted by the regional capital’s youthful, dynamic image. Sure enough, there’s an infectious upbeat mood in the vibrant café culture around the now transformed Place Maréchal Leclerc and the surrounding pedestrianised streets. It’s just as well, for the ambitious renovation and re-landscaping of some 38,000m2 of public spaces carried a hefty 25 million euro price-tag. It paid off handsomely, however, and the changes aren’t over yet. Currently nearing completion is a visionary transformation of the former Printemps department store, whose outmoded style has been replaced by two retail levels plus three more offering elegant city centre apartment living. This new-found joie-de-vivre has also revitalised the surrounding shopping areas, where specialist family owned boutiques rub shoulders with famous high-street names. Whether you’re here to buy or merely to soak up the vibe, it’s a fun place to be.

Poitiers-France

Getting there got much easier recently, too, first when incoming traffic was rerouted to and from convenient car parks like the Parking Toumaï beside the Gare SNCF, newly linked to the city centre by a spectacular 330m-long, 38 million euro Viaduc Léon-Blum spanning the railway tracks. Now pedestrians, cyclists and bus services can get right to the very heart of the town. Things went a major step further on 30 August with the inauguration of new bus routes serving 14 outlying Park & Ride areas with free parking – and from 1 September 2015 Saturday morning shoppers and other visitors have be able to use city centre car parks for just 1 euro. Finally, you can now take the green option to discover the city by renting one of about 650 electrically-assisted bikes (plus 250 pedal-powered ones) for a few euros per day. Clearly, this is a city on the move.

Poitiers-France

Which doesn’t mean that Poitiers has lost sight of its proud heritage – in all France only Paris has a higher density of historic monuments, a fact which many years ago won it official recognition as a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire. Now there’s a new focus, namely the city’s current bid for UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. We’re only surprised that it hadn’t happened much sooner. Like the good people of Poitiers, we’ll await the outcome with great interest. In the meantime, a forthcoming exhibition will reveal the city as seen during the early days of photography (see our factfile panel for full details), and visitors can follow the Parcours Ville Modernea – a brand new discovery trail designed to reveal some of the city’s more striking modern landmark structures. Needless to say, visitors can continue to explore the history and architecture of the city centre’s principal sites by following three existing routes: ‘Le Quartier Épiscopal’, ‘Le Quartier Montierneuf’ and ‘Le Quartier Saint-Hilaire’. If you think you know Poitiers, be prepared to think again.

Poitiers-France

You’ll find full details of Park & Ride car parks, the new bus routes, bike hire and much more on the Grand Poitiers website: www.grandpoitiers.fr .

 Poitiers-France

 

WORDS & PHOTOS: Roger Moss

© Living Magazine. Originally published in October 2015