Two hours south of Paris lies the magical town of Poitiers. It may not seem very magical to others but to me it is one of the most special places in the world. Perhaps it because this is where my mother was born, where my grandfather survived through the war and where most of my extended family still lives (so yes quite biased). Poitiers is known for its historical architecture that takes root in the many many cathedrals in the quaint town. The town is centered around the picturesque square where most of the businesses thrive today. One of my favorite childhood memories of this little city was getting the famed "macaroons" from the local bakery, a bottle of orangina and walking around through the old cobblestone roads. When you say you are visiting Poitiers, most people assume you are headed to "Futuroscope," the well known theme park that is a sort of Disneyland meets a zoo meets a Universal Studios. But Poitiers has much more to offer along the streets with boutique shopping, old castles and a beautiful river to hang by. At night the streets are bustling with life from all of the students at the local university gathering together. It is a fun and vibrant city that has an old world charm with a new, young growth.
Not to far from Poitiers is the very small town called Saint Savin, which is where my grandfather was born and raised with all of his siblings. Its hard to describe this little town, but I know when I smell the cold, damp air at the Abbey, see the bullet holes in the bridges over the river and look at the faces of the families who still reside there, I feel like I have been taken back a few decades. I remember as a little girl, running out to the local bakery for bread, retrieving the fresh milk from the doorstep and sitting down for breakfast in the house my grandfather was raised. The rolling hills, flocks of sheep, and the high point of the Abbey make for a great postcard anytime of the year. Saint Savin is a simple town yet charming holding just what it needs, a bakery, church, market and not much more. If you are lucky and are in the region during the summer, they say the countryside of France is the color yellow because of the endless fields of sunflowers. It is always a pleasure to return to this village to see a few of my great aunts and uncles who still reside there today.
The Poitou-Charentes region of France is known for a few things but one of the most famed is a culinary delight called "Broyé du Poitou." It's a butter/sugar cookie that is cooked until it is decently hard and is eaten with a warm beverage. The cookies come in a rather large circle designed for breaking off (the word broyé means to break) and sharing or smaller tiny cookies. Either way, these cookies are to die for and are a must have if in the region.
Poitiers and Saint-Savin will always be a special place and is a great stop along the way to either La Rochelle or the south of France. Enjoy the history, the stunning cathedrals and make sure to get a macaroon or broyé!
(Saint Savin is pictured first & then Poitiers)