In the footsteps of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Poitiers and surroundings

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Heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine, Aliénor left its mark on Poitiers and its surroundings. Several places lead you in his footsteps and tell you his story. Explore the extraordinary life of this Queen of Two Kingdoms, Palace of the Counts of Poitou à Poitiers town hall.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, emblematic figure of Poitiers

A major figure in the history of France, Eleanor of Aquitaine left his mark in the Poitevine region. Granddaughter of a great troubadour, she was born around 1122. When her father died, she inherits the Duchy of Aquitaine and the County of Poitiers and then rule the largest domain in France. She becomes one of the richest lords in Europe. This independent and rebellious woman does not let her life be dictated to. When she was only 15, she married Louis VII, King of France and then becomes queen of france. Together they take part in the Second Crusade to Jerusalem. The union with Louis VII being complicated, they call off their marriage after 15 years of relationship.

Later, Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Henri Plantagenêt, future King of England. It will therefore have been successively Queen of France and Queen of England. Together they build Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Poitiers, in which their union will be celebrated, and they will have 8 children, including Richard Coeur de Lion and Jean Sans Terre. Detached from her husband, she spends a lot of time Poitiers, capital of the Counts of Poitou and the Dukes of Aquitaine and very rarely goes to England.

After an eventful life, Eleanor of Aquitaine dies in Poitiers at the age of 82. She rests in the superb abbey of Fontevraud, on the borders of Poitou and the Loire Valley, a few kilometers north of Loudun.

Escape Game in Poitiers, Eleanor's Treasure©ACAP

The palace of the Dukes of Aquitaine and Counts of Poitou, in the heart of the city

Alternately, feasts and justice, the palace of the counts of Poitou and dukes of Aquitaine represents one of the most remarkable architectural ensembles of the Middle Ages in France. Residence of the counts of Poitou then courthouse, it has known several illustrious figures in the history of France, including Eleanor of Aquitaine. When she was there, the Maubergeon Tower and the great hall, also called Hall of Lost causes, were built. These two buildings bear witness to a very particular style, Plantagenêt Gothic (also known as Angevin).

This vast hall of lost steps of the palace, measuring 50 meters by 17, is undoubtedly the most emblematic monument left by Eleanor. She had it fitted out at the end of her life, from 1192 to 1204. In this place of vast dimensions lived the court of Eleanor. She attends the stories of the troubadours, of which she becomes the muse and maintains one of the most brilliant courts in Europe. The palace is today a place dedicated to the meeting between inhabitants, where are organized regularly various events and exhibitions.
Fun fact : A scene from the film Joan of Arc, directed by Luc Besson, was filmed in the Palais de Poitiers!

Saint-Pierre cathedral and its stained glass windows dating from Aliénor's lifetime

Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Poitiers is another important monument built at the request of Eleanor of Aquitaine. In the Angevin Gothic style known as Plantagenêt, it was inaugurated in 1162. Enter this building and observe in the choir the magnificent stained glass window of the crucifixion, representing Eleanor, Henri de Plantagenêt and four of their sons. It is the only representation of the queen made during her lifetime. THE Marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II was celebrated there. The cathedral is also remarkable for its dimensions, its hall-church shape and its imposing flat apse. Raise your head to discover its sculpted facade and its flamboyant murals, a treasure of Gothic art, discovered in 2015.

Visit Poitiers for a weekend and discover its rich historical heritage.

The remains of the ramparts of Poitiers, in Blossac park

Direction the Blossac Park to enjoy a beautiful walk in the countryside. There, you can admire the remains of the ramparts that once surrounded Poitiers. The construction of these fortifications began in the twelfthrd century at the request of Eleanor of Aquitaine and were continued until the 16thrd century. The medieval enclosure extended over 6,5 km and had between 60 and 80 towers as well as 6 monumental gates. The ramparts encompassed the “plateau”, along the Boivre and the Clain, at the location of the boulevards which today surround the hyper-center.

Central fountain of Blossac©ACAP

Remember to visit the different Poitiers parks, which give it a “green city” and nature spirit.

The Poitiers town hall and its stained glass window in the main hall

In the city center of Poitiers, follow in the footsteps of Eleanor of Aquitaine in a more contemporary building: City Hall. In the salon d'honneur, a former ballroom, is a stained glass window, made by Steinheil in the 19thrd century, which represents Eleanor of Aquitaine confirming before the aldermen the charter of the municipality of Poitiers in 1199. We see a monk copying the charter which confirms the privileges granted to the city of Poitiers.

City Hall of Poitiers©Claire COULARDEAU – ACAP

The castle of Monts sur Guesnes, to learn the history of Poitou while having fun

Enter the Castle of Monts sur Guesnes , one hour from Poitiers, for learn the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine in a fun way and one of his sons, Richard Coeur de Lion. Through 8 rooms spread over 800 m², dive into immersive scenery and relive the history of Poitou during the Middle Ages. Discover incredible destinies and epic adventures. History buffs and apprentice knights alike will be delighted with this visit.

Dress up at the castle of Monts-sur-Guesnes©Bastien SAUVE – Agence Zebrelle

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