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Airvault - The village was formed in the 10th century and grew around one of the largest Abbeys for Augustinian monks in the Poitou region. Many of the medieval buildings still remain as well as some fine examples of Poitou architecture.
The Romanesque Abbey - Church of St Pierre, was built between the 11th and 13th centuries. Over the years the chuch has been added to and altered, for example the spire was reconstructed in 2016 after the old one began to display serious signs of wear. However the entrance still has part of the original building visible. Over the door there are sculptures of scallop shells, symbols of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella which is still followed today.
With a supermarket, boulangeries, 2 chateaux and restaurants, all you need from a rural French village is here, including a small market on Saturday mornings, situated in the Market hall adjacent to the Church.
There is an underground well, next to the church, that can be visited by borrowing the key from the tourist office, and a museum that is housed in part of the old Abbey - church complex.
On the outskirts of the town is the Pont de Vernay, a 12th century Romanesque bridge that crosses the River Thouet . The Thouet valley, easily accessable from the village, is recognised internationally as having a wide variety of birdlife. www.avt-tourisme.fr
The village is a popular stop for those cyclists following the recently opened Velo Francette (the route goes from Caen Ouisterham to La Rochelle). We welcome cyclists of all abilities and are able to store your bikes in a locked garage.
Parthenay - In the Middle Ages Parthenay was a major fortress of the region. Set on a granite promontory, and with around a hundred old half timbered houses it maintains the appeal of a small medieval town. Parthenay has many bars & cafés where you can sit & watch the world go by, together with all the conveniences you'd expect in a modern small town. www.tourisme-gatine.com
Thouars - Built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Thouet and valley. Town centre churches go back to the 11th century with Poitou Romanesque architecture. An impressive castle and a medieval town centre. Thouars has all the businesses and shops you'd expect in a 21st century town, including cafés, banks, supermarkets, restaurants and bars. Friday mornings see one of the largest markets in the area, where you can buy anything from local produce, clothing to chicks and geese. www.ville-thouars.fr
Bressuire - Dominated by a castle build between the 11th and 15th century and the Dolo river valley.
Bressuire is a fairly compact town where you can while away an hour or two, taking in the tranquil atmosphere, however if you time your visit right you could witness vintage car rallies or even some Highland Games action.
Why not visit the Sculpture Orchard, a public garden displaying sculpture between the apple trees which leads to a pleasant park in the river valley.
St. Loup Lamairé - A pretty village on the edge of the River Thouet, with 15th and 16th century half timbered houses, a chateau of traditional french architecture including a dungeon where the Black Prince was held captive following the Battle of Poitiers.
The church was rebuilt in the 19th century in the center of the village but if you take the road towards Gourgé you will find the remains of an earlier version, which is unusual in that pretty much only the alter remains with a glass facade.
The village holds an annual Art Fair in June, with exhibitors from all over the region as well as the opportunity to try yourself. Also there is a Christmas night market with many producers trying to tempt you with their seasonal items.
St. Generoux - A small village boasting 2 restaurants offering good value lunches, just a few km from Airvault. A 13th century medieval bridge crosses the River Thouet. The church built in the 9th and 10th centuries is a good example of primitive Romanesque architecture. www.romanes.com
Oiron This small village about 17 Km from Airvault is well worth a visit for a couple of reasons, firstly is the Chateau a gift from Louis XIV (the sun king) to his former mistress La Comtesse de Montauspan (featured in the TV show Versailles) now houses an eclectic Art Gallery with both permanent and featured exhibits as well as preserved rooms from when the Chateau was constructed and part of the once magnificent grounds. The second reason to visit are the 2 vinyards both producing quality wines. We can arrange visits and wine tastings at both domains
There are many chateaux, churches, abbeys, museums, monuments, gardens, walks, cycle rides etc in the local area. Good places to find information are the local tourist offices or the departments tourism website. www.tourisme-deux-sevres.com www.tourisme-vienne.com
For more information on churches and abbeys try www.romanes.com
We hold details of many of the local attractions and are more than happy to try and help with any further information you may require.