Eleanor also commissioned the city’s imposing cathedral in 1162, and it was completed around a century later, which was quite swift for a building of this size in medieval times. If you’re fascinated by medieval history you could have a field day in here. First, nearly all the stained glass windows in the choir and transept are original, and if you’re eagle-eyed you’ll identify Eleanor and Henry II in one. The wooden choir stalls are some of the oldest in France, carved in the Parisian gothic style in the mid-13th century. Originally there would have been 100, but even with the 74 remaining you’re left in no doubt about the high status of the cathedral chapter in these times.
Grande Salle – Palais de Poitiers
There’s only one room to be seen at Poitiers law courts, formerly the seat of the Dukes of Aquitaine and Counts of Poitou, and you have to brave airlines tyle bag-checkers to get in. But if you’re curious about English and French history this is small price to pay. Because the Grand Salle was a dining hall ordered in the 1190s by Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most powerful women in medieval Europe. At 50 metres by 17 it may well have been the largest in Europe at the time. There are three gigantic fireplaces, wondrous traceries on the windows and sculptures of figures in the court of Poitiers, like John of Berry and Isabeau of Bavaria.
Since the Lumière brothers in the 19th-century France has always been at the forefront of the cinematic arts, and the Futuroscope theme park springs from that legacy. It is France’s third most popular theme park and has been dazzling visitors for more than 30 years with simulators, rides and breathtaking presentations in IMAX 3D and 4D theatres. The venues for these rides and shows are phenomenal metal and glass structures, some angular and others rounded, but all with vast dimensions. Most of the shows have set starting times, so as opposed to most theme parks you can plan ahead and not waste your day in queues.
Jardin des Plantes
If your head is spinning from all those dates and historical personalities you can go for a meditative walk in the Jardin des Plantes, Poiters’ soothing botanical garden. The park has 150 species of exotic plants in its greenhouse, most with medicinal properties. That might be because the park was established by the university’s faculty of medicine, all the way back in 1621. The rest of the garden is a freewheeling English park: There’s a pond, waterfall and winding paths in woodland scattered with unusual trees like an Atlas cedar and an American bald cypress.