Niort – Préfecture (capital) of the Deux-Sèvres département. This is the biggest city in the area and has a long history in politics and trade. Its Dungeon, one of the most beautiful twin-towered Roman dungeons to be found in France, proudly towers over the river.
Marais Poitevin – also know as La Venise Verte (Green Venice). This is an area of marsh, and meadows, drained by hundreds of canals. You can rent a punt and explore the area, stopping for a picnic, or cycle the many paths.
Cognac – here you can walk through the cobbled streets, take a boat trip on the river Charente or visit one of the many distilleries, where you can sample Cognac and Pineau de Charente.
Saintes - this is a busy town founded by the Romans in 20BC on the banks of the river Charente. Roman ruins can still be seen in the town, the highlight being the Arena, an early amphitheatre to the west of the town in an attractive wooded spot. It also has an attractive 'old town' centre with some nice medieval houses in typical narrow streets, and there are also a couple of churches that are worth the effort - the Abbaye aux dames and the church of St Eutrope particularly.
La Rochelle - Visit the old city or relax on beach. You can also drive just a little further to the Ile de Rey, a favourite Parisian resort.
There are excellent zoos, wildlife parks and nature reserves where you can see native wildlife and more exotic creatures
Food and Wine
The vineyards and distilleries of Cognac are just under and hour away, and Bordeaux and its famous chateaux and vineyards is only an hour and half via the A10.