Apart from flying into the airport, and making a visit to the Harley Davidson shop, we had never been to Poitiers before. Both of those places are on the outskirts so they hardly count as a visit to the city. We found that actually getting into the city was hard work.
We fought our way into the centre in heavy traffic and tried to find somewhere to park. It wasn't easy. All the car parks appeared full and we circled round the centre of town a couple of times until we spotted a space on the roadside. It didn't cost a lot to park using the parking meter, once we had actually found the meter, but the maximum time allowed was only two hours.
We are always fairly choosey about where we leave our car, not wanting to come back to find a dent in it - we have often cringed at some of the manoeuvres we have observed in France when people are attempting to park a car.
We found that Poitiers is a lovely city. There are many beautiful old buildings in the city centre and it is a smart and bustling place with shops and restaurants a-plenty. Which is a good job, as we had to keep diving into them during the heavy rain that occurred every few minutes all afternoon.
The place had a very grand feel to it. There were also lots of young people around suggesting the presence of a college or university. It was lively and cosmopolitan - well it certainly seemed so to me, as I fast become more of a country bumpkin each day. It's history goes back to Roman times and you can read a bit about it here.
Not being too good at remembering names, dates and details, I won't embarrass myself by attempting to give a history lesson on Poitiers here. Suffice it to say, Poitiers has been the site of many a gruesome battle over the centuries, some of which profoundly changed the future of France and what we now know as Europe.
There were no battles on the streets the day we were there, except for those people who were trying to hang on to their umbrellas in the wind.
During one particularly heavy cloudburst, we dived into a shopping centre and sat at a little table, watching the world go by whilst we had a coffee. The rain pounded on the glass roof of the building. The street outside became a little river and people splashed as they dashed along, jackets held over their heads.
Minutes later, the sun came out again. It was suddenly blue sky and warm sunshine. So we took our opportunity to find our way back through the maze of elegant streets, with its old-fashioned shops right next to modern fashion emporiums, to our car which was, thankfully, still in one piece, exactly where we had left it.
I am not really a city person any more. When I was younger, I loved the hustle and bustle of shops and cafes. Nowadays I prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside and felt slightly out of my depth in such a busy place. Having said that, I would definitely go back to Poitiers to explore the place and its history some more. That's if I can find somewhere to park the car for more than just a couple of hours.