In search of typically French villages, castles and nature
With my AmazingPlaces.com website I often focus on the more famous places. But that is not always the best thing to do. On this trip, the plan is to discover the lesser-known places. At least it is for me. First I will visit the region around Poitiers.
Poitiers is a student town, therefore there's plenty of pubs and eateries. Life happens on the street here, even in the summer. I see people arriving in a pub with their own food. This is allowed if you order a drink with it. It's a fascinating concept, that is not so well-known in France.
I explore the center dominated by Notre-Dame la Grande on foot. This massive Romanesque chapel is noted for its legendary sculptures of imaginary creatures, but I have no idea what I’m looking at. With its many arches, the Saint-Hilaire le Grand church is also worth a visit. It's a lot of fun to wander around this surprisingly tiny city. I also get a drink and settle down to watch the world go by.
Read my tips for Poitiers
The cabin has a large bed and a simple toilet. You can only arrive paddling yourself, but this is what makes it extra special. Electricity runs on solar energy, so it is very sustainable. There's a terrace on the water, ideal for the sunset.
Dinner is served on a floating restaurant along the shore. I call this active dining. I have to prepare all the food on the grill myself. I put my vegetables and meat on different iron plates on the fire. I almost forget the lovely view over the lake. My house is right in the middle. Yes, I will definitely sleep well tonight. “There's probably a surprise for you tonight,” says Laurent Debiais. He is the boss of the floating village and smiles mysteriously.
The lake is remarkably quiet at night, although I can hear the cry of an owl. Laurents words still ring in my head. Suddenly I hear something crazy, like a primal cry. It reverberates across the lake. It can't get much more natural than this. The next morning Laurent tells what it is; a bellowing red deer. It was male that was looking for females. His call let other deer know that he is there. Yes, the Floating Village is on the edge of a nature reserve. This is one of the reasons why everything is done sustainably.
Montmorillon is located on the banks of the Gartempe River. It is mainly known for its many bookshops, but for me the location on the water and the rocks is what stands out. I can walk to the waterfront from various places for a wonderful view. Which is perfect for taking photos.
Angles-sur L'Anglin is, as the name suggests, on the river Anglin. This village is also labeled Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, and is one of the most beautiful in all of France. I walk through the narrow streets with the castle ruins on top of the rocks. I love to take pictures so I can go wild here. After that, you can enjoy a drink on a terrace.
Or actually how to keep my balance. But he doesn't say anything about the rocks underwater. If I hit one I'm in the water. But that's part of the experience. I see children having a lot of fun splashing in the water.
This 11th century church is also known as the Romanesque Sistine Chapel. The reason for this is the many frescoes, which are mainly made on and around the ceiling. They show all kinds of scenes from the Old Testament. Including famous images of Noah's Ark. I strain my neck looking at the beauty and colourful frescoes.
The wooden tree house lies in the middle of the forest. It's my place to sleep tonight. I walk around the campsite and watch a very colourful sunset. The sun peeps through the trees and gives this lovely hut beautiful light.
A stroll through the town is a peep into the Middle Ages. I see a sign fo a bird of prey show. It is being held in one of the castles, but I enjoy the view over the city more. The best view can be seen on the other hills. Especially when the sun breaks through.
It is remarkably easy with two people. Let's just hope that no TGV train is approaching, the standard joke is already said with a smile. At your leisure you paddle through the landscape, over bridges, past some of the castles and into the forest. Sometimes the trail leads uphill, but it is not too difficult to cycle. And sometimes you go down, then you can rest for a while and take a look around you.
It is a wonderful outing for the family, although there are also a striking number of couples who do this tour. In love, they often even pedal in sync. Would they get it? It is a wonderful excursion to end the tour through Poitiers and the surrounding area. It's time to travel further south in Nouvelle Aquitaine.