The old capital city of the Poitou region, Poitiers is most famous for defending Christianity in the 8th century, when Charles Martel halted the advance of Islam.
Remarkable historic churches are testimony to the town’s Christian heritage. A designated UNESCO site, the 11th-century Romanesque Eglise Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand dazzles visitors with its six domed chapels built around the central apse and transept.
Nearby is the 12th-century Eglise Notre-Dame-la-Grande, considered one of the most exquisite Romanesque churches in France. The richly decorated facade features Byzantine-influenced details of the Biblical scenes.
Continuing towards the river, tourists will come across the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, noteworthy for its 13th-century stained-glass windows. Just a few steps away from the cathedral is the Baptistère Saint-Jean, the oldest surviving Christian monument in France, dating to the 4th century. The church contains Merovingian sarcophagi and Romanesque frescoes.
Near the river, the Eglise Sainte-Radegonde, is dedicated to Saint Radegonde, the Merovingian queen who became a nun and founded a monastery. Not to be missed are the ambulatory’s ornately carved Romanesque capitals, adorned with figures of people and animals.