Vivonne is a small town with a population of 4268, situated 18 km south of Poitiers (on the N10, follow the signs for Angoulême). With three rivers criss-crossing the town, this makes it a perfect spot for nature-spotting, walking, watersports and fishing.
Vivonne’s good selection of shops, plentiful accommodation and variety of places to eat justify its classification as one of France’s ‘Village Etape’, a label given to villages or small towns of a certain standing that can be found just off a motorway or dual-carriageway.
The attractions :
The town offers a variety of things to see and do. Boasting several churches and chateaux, a natural spring and an ancient dovecote, Vivonne’s architecture and heritage merits exploration.
If it’s the natural environment that you are interested in, take a leisurely stroll around its park or selection of footpaths, or take to the river for adrenaline-pumping watersports, including canoing and kayaking. Vivonne is where the rivers of the Clain, Palais and Vonne unite, so the town has a reputation as a paradise for water-lovers. In July and August, canoes are available to hire at the park every afternoon, or you can book a special session at other times of the year.
A wider variety of shops that might be expected can be found in the centre of Vivonne. Here you’ll find more than just the basics catered for; including a bank, florist, hairdressers, pharmacies, opticians and many more.
With its hotel, camp-site, bed & breakfasts and self-catering holiday rentals, it isn’t hard to see why Vivonne won the ‘Village Etape’ label. Visit the Accommodation page on this website for the contact details of places to stay.
Whether you have the appetite of a horse or are just in need of a small snack, Vivonne’s restaurants cater to all tastes and budgets, and there’s generally something to be found whatever time of the day hunger strikes you! A waterside terrace is never far away, either.
From the annual music festival to the fairs, races, antique and bric-a-brac markets, there’s something going on in Vivonne throughout the year. See the Agenda for details.
Situated in the heart of the Vienne region, renowned for its wealth of Roman art and artefacts, Vivonne is characterised by the rivers crossing through it and its rich architectural heritage. With a medieval centre, Vivonne counts 3800 inhabitants and lies 25 minutes south of the City of Poitiers. Its picturesque buildings and green surroundings have justly earned it the ‘Village Etape’ label, signifying somewhere of interest to tourists.
What to see in the town centre:
The remnants of an ancient chateau that was built in 1077 and destroyed during the 100 Years War. The ruins conceal underground tunnels that join up with those at Lusignan, 13 km from here.
Saint-Georges church and its bell tower is of Roman origin, dating from the 12 and 13th centuries. It was entirely renovated in 2000. According to legend, it was built at the spot where St George landed after taking a gigantic leap on horseback from the slopes of the Fontrable hills. Take a peek at the ancient Angevin Gothic Priory that can be found just behind the church and then discover the former Carmelite convent, constructed during the 15th century, which today houses the post office and town hall. From here, you can admire the Vonne river basin.
The former residence of the Vounant Park today houses various local associations. The ground floor can be hired for receptions, seminars and other events. Surrounding it, you’ll find its park, where nature and calm reign.
Discover the ancient Marot spring with its reputed medicinal properties. It can be reached via a pretty bridge over the river Clain.
Take a stroll through Vivonne’s charming medieval heart, with its shops and marketplace. Witness to many a bygone market day – Vivonne’s market was reputedly one of the best-known in the region at one point – the marketplace comes alive again at the end of September each year for the Saint-Michel celebrations (take a look at the events page for exact dates and times).
Around and about the town:
3 km to the south of Vivonne lies the 16th century Château de Cercigny, nestling in a sleepy green hollow. Cercigny’s chapel is worth visiting, with a wood ceiling that is shaped like a boat’s hull.
North of here, on the road to Marçay, is an impressive 14th century circular dovecote that has been meticulously restored. Considered to be the largest in the Vienne, it can house 1336 pairs of pigeons.
4 km to the north of Vivonne is the privately-held Château de la Planche. Built during the 16th century by Pierre Régnier, a mayor of Poitiers, it is partly gothic in style but has been added to over successive centuries, though its medieval origins have been conserved.
To visit in the area
Poitiers, Futuroscope theme park, Saint-Savin Abbey, Vallée des Singes animal park, Crocodile Planet, the Domaine de Dienné (spa, treetop walks, mountain biking, horse riding, children’s activity centre …), the Vieux Cormenier Museum, the Marais poitevin, Sheep Village, Sorcerers’ Rock, the Cité de l’écrit et des métiers du livre (the City of Writing and Books).