This western area of France, tucked under the arm of the Brittany peninsula, is a great escape for anyone looking for some quiet relaxation. Sometimes referred to as "Green Venice" for the abundance of shimmering waterways that decorate the landscape, Poitou-Charentes is sprinkled with medieval chateaux and Romanesque churches, and its dewy vineyards produce the raw material for golden Cognac liquor. In Poitou-Charentes, you can spend your mornings breathing in the crisp country air, indulge in a classic French lunch of regional goat cheese, fresh oysters and fizzing white wine and watch the sun set over the emerald-green River Charente while fireflies flicker on the banks.
Some of the region's top attractions include:
-Beach holidays: Poitou-Charentes offers miles of pristine beaches, and the region gets more sun than any other part of the country save for the Mediterranean coast.
-Food and drink: Sampling the local cuisine is an attraction in and of itself in this quiet corner of France. Be sure to top your meal off with some regional wine, and enjoy a sip of fine cognac to delight your senses.
-Quaint countryside towns: From the beautiful village of Aubeterre to the historic port of Rochefort, Poitou-Charentes is filled with some of France's most scenic and historic towns and villages.
-La Palmyre Zoo: Home to fascinating wildlife and landscaped gardens, La Palmyre is an ideal day trip for families visiting the area. The zoo is considered one of the best in continental Europe.
-The Marais Poitevin: Take a gondola cruise through the canals, streams and waterways of "Green Venice." A sign that welcomes visitors to the region says everything you need to know about the Marais Poitevin: "Slow down and admire."
Staying in a vacation rental is the ideal way to experience the local flavor of this beautiful corner of France. Apartments, chateaux and countryside cabins are widely available, and make the perfect base for families, couples, and groups enjoying this lovely region.
If you're craving the sights, sounds and adventure of the city, Poitou-Charentes is a short train ride away from Paris. Adding France's famous capital city to your itinerary is both convenient and rewarding.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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