From medieval to Renaissance
In the Middle Ages the Bas Poitou experienced significant changes in the organisation of its space and buildings. To defend against any invasions, fortifications and castles were built to protect the population. It was in this context that many abbeys, priories and parish churches sprang up, which was a result of the early evangelism of Poitou and because the region was located on one of the routes of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the civilisation of the Renaissance implicitly competed with the church while Poitou was open to Calvinism.
>> The priory of Chassay-Grammont in Saint Prouant, founded by Richard the Lionheart around 1200, is one of the best preserved priories in France.
>> The Marais Abbey in Maillezais, an ancient cathedral-fortress built in 1003 on an island in the Golfe des Pictons.
>> The Royal Abbey of Nieul sur l'Autise, founded in 1068, which became a Royal abbey thanks to Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of France.
>> Luçon Cathedral, listed as a Historic Monument. Richelieu was the most famous of the Luçon bishops, the town is still the seat de Bishop of the Vendée.
>> The Château de Talmont in Talmont Saint Hilaire, is an 11th century medieval fortress where you can immerse yourself in medieval life.
>> The Château de Gilles de Rais in Tiffauges and its surprising collection of working medieval war machines, unique in Europe.
>> The Château de Terre-Neuve in Fontenay-le-Comte, built in 1580 and listed as a Historic Monument.
>> The dungeon and gardens of Bazoges en Pareds from the 19th century.
>> The Château de Saint Mesmin in Saint André sur Sèvre, a 14th century medieval fortress which puts on medieval events.
>> The 14th century feudal Château de Sigournais, listed as a Historic Monument.
>> The 12th century Château de la Grève in Saint Martin des Noyers.
>> The Château des Essarts.
>> The Château de Pouzauges, built on a hill dominating the Haut Bocage Vendéen, has one of the oldest and most complete stone keeps in Poitou.
>> The Vieux Château of Ile d'Yeu.
>> The two magnificent towers of the Château d'Apremont, are a legacy of the 16th century Renaissance château built on the site of a medieval fortress.
>> The Tour Mélusine in Vouvant, a watch tower of the ancient castle of Lusignan dating from 1242.
>> The Renaissance Castle of Puy du Fou in Les Epesses, dates from the 15th century and is the setting for the Cinescenie show at Puy du Fou.
Fontenay Le Comte is a "Town of Art and History", called a "fountain flowing with beautiful minds" by François I. It was with this quote that Rabelais became open to humanism through spending time with a circle of thinkers and artists. Not to be missed: a visit to the Fontaine des Quatre Tias, the relics of the medieval fortress, Place Belliard, Notre Dame church...