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Talk of the Town - Thouars

Talk of the Town - Thouars

Thinking of moving? We highlight a town in Poitou-Charentes to help you get to know the region. Here we visit Thouars in Deux-Sèvres... 


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Steeped in history, this attractive town is found in an area where there is evidence of human settlement in caves going back more than 5,000 years. There are traces, too, of a Roman road which suggests that the area was inhabited and active during Gallo-Roman times. But it’s in the late 8th century that the story of Thouars really begins, when it was the site of one of the best defended fortresses in the region. The town was on the northern reaches of ancient Aquitaine which was in a constant struggle with the kings of France. In 762 Pépin le Bref (Pippin the Short) and his much more famous son Charlemagne came, saw and conquered Thouars, destroying the fortress in the process. However, Thouars’ natural setting on a rocky outcrop over the river Thouet lends itself to a castle.In time a new structure emerged in the town as it became embroiled in the endless quarrels and battles between the kingdoms of England and France over the region. It was not until 1372 that Thouars finally and definitively came under French control.

During the 16th and 17th centuries the town became prosperous, and a number of fine buildings were constructed that survive to this day, including the collegiate church Sainte Chapelle Notre-Dame, said to be a unique structure of its kind in France. Most famous, though, is the Château de la Trémoille, which was built on the orders of the wife of Henri III de La Trémoïlle, Marie de La Tour d’Auvergne, who had the existing castle demolished. This chateau still dominates Thouars today, though its use has changed over the years. After the Revolution in 1789 it became a barracks and then a prison. Today, it is home to one of the town’s three collèges, the appropriately-named Marie de La Tour d’Auvergne. The area around Thouars is known for its production of melons and for viticulture; it is home to some very good and often underrated wines.

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MARKET DAY

Thouars is renowned in the region for its markets. They take place twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 8am to 1pm. The Tuesday market is mostly for food and related products, while the one on Friday is for both food and clothes. Both are held at Place Lavault and boulevard Pierre Curie, and attract around 200 stallholders. There are 500 parking places nearby.

SCHOOLS

The town has five primary and nursery schools, including one private establishment. There are three collèges, including one that is private, and two lycées, one of which is private. In addition there is a centre for children with learning difficulties and a nursing college.

TRANSPORT

The nearest airport in the region is Poitiers, which has regular flights to and from the UK. Outside the region to the north is the airport at Tours. The nearest main TGV stations are also at Poitiers and Tours. The A85 motorway, which leads on to the A10 to Paris, is about 50 minutes away to the north via Saumur.