Hi-tech theme park north of Poitiers devoted to cinema and the moving image that attracts millions of visitors annually.
Get involved in the action, dance with robots or let giant screen images play havoc with your senses with over 25 experiences and breath-taking shows. See 3D dinosaurs of the deep in a pre-historic sea – new for 2011 – and go with Arthur on a 4D adventure in his tiny world.
Fun and mind-boggling excitement for all the family with special after dark closing show ‘The Blue Note Mystery’.
Open every day 12 Feb – 11 Sept 2011. For opening times to end of year and further information, see www.futuroscope.com
Watersports are popular on the lakes and rivers of Vienne and the area around Montmorillon is known as a ‘territory of waters’ because of the abundance of rivers. It also has indoor and outdoor swimming pools with café facilities.
Exo-Active Park on Lac de Magne at Moncontour offers a variety of watersports including wakeboarding and a nautical ski lift enabling you to water ski without a boat, using a cord and cable. A great way for beginners to learn. Restaurant and picnic area on-site. Open April to end October - daily July and August. Tel: (00 33) 5 49 98 93 67 for other times.
Gue Magne Recreation Centre includes lifeguard monitored swimming and kayaking amongst its activities.
There are wind surfing and sailing centres on the Vienne at L’Isle Jourdain and you can try water skiing at the nautical club of L’Isle-Jourdain from June to mid September. Tel: (00 33) 5 49 48 71 03 for details including baby skiing classes for 5 - 10 year olds.
Vienne offers plenty of opportunities for ramblers. Those who enjoy France’s long distance trails can join the GR364, from Vienne to the Vendee, at Vivonne south of Poitiers. The route - marked by red and white signs - crosses to Lusignan and on to Parthenay in Deux Sevres. For more information, contact local tourist offices or check the route in the French Long distance Walking Association’s TopoGuide (in French).
All the family can enjoy the many mountain bike and cycle trails around Chatellerault. Get closer to nature by cycling 20km along the banks of the River Vienne from Cenon-sur-Vienne to Bonneuil Matours. Find more information from Chatellerault tourist office, tel: (00 33) 5 49 21 05 47 or pick up maps at the tourist offices in Bonneuil Matours and Vouneuil-sur-Vienne.
A magnificent show of free flying vultures, eagles and brightly coloured parrots swooping amongst the audience with the ruins of the Bishops’ Chateau in the heart of Chauvigny as a spectacular backdrop. Open every day from Easter to 30 September. Details on www.geantsduciel.com
There are plenty of opportunities for pony trekking through Vienne’s beautiful countryside. Loudunais Riding Centre in north west Vienne offers qualified instruction to riders at all levels in day and evening classes. The centre is open everyday but Thursday and closed throughout August. Tel: (00 33) 5 49 98 05 48 for further details.
La Gatiniere Centre in the spa town of La Roche-Posay is open to visitors all year round with prior booking, tel: (00 33) 5 49 23 05 39. Qualified instructors give courses from harnessing to dressage and cross country. Lovers of horse racing may enjoy a visit to the town’s La Gatiniere Hippodrome - open July to September - for traditional horse racing. The course has trotting and driving tracks and its fine quality ground attracts famous trainers.
There’s a family atmosphere at Du Chene Riding Centre in Fleix. Caters for children 5 and upwards and adults, beginners or advanced. Outings in the forest with qualified equestrian guide and more. Book in advance by tel: (00 33) 5 49 37 26 48.
Equit’Libre Riding Centre at Liguge offers a range of activities including, driving, jumps and excursions on horseback or in carts. Certificate ‘Ecole Francaise d’Equitation’. Tel: (00 33) 5 49 43 84 60.
The rivers of Vienne present both calm and white-water areas for this popular leisure pursuit. Visitors can hire canoes and kayaks at Moussac-sur-Vienne. The Centre de Plein Air at Lathus-St-Remy is a regional centre for canoeing and kayaking. Take lessons on the local lake and quiet locations on the River Gartempe or make a river excursion. The centre provides all equipment including safety jackets. For more information, tel: (00 33) 5 49 91 83 30 or see the website
Nearby, ‘Hells Rocks’ on the Gartempe has been the venue for international canoeing and kayaking events. There are also centres at Availles-Limousine and St-Martin-l’Ars.
As in many other areas of France, fishing is a popular pastime in the fishing ponds and rivers of Vienne which has 540km of category 1 fishing, 480km of category 2 fishing and 32 hectares of lake fishing. The category 2 River Vienne offers good coarse fishing and there are plenty of pike and pike-perch in the Rivers Gartempe and Creuse.
Rainbow and brown trout can also be caught on the Gartempe as well as other grade ‘A’ streams. Trout fishing is only permissible in France from mid March to mid September. Visit http://federationpeche86.com/ or tel: (00 33) 5 49 37 66 60 for information on venues and tariffs.
Snakes, iguanas, alligators, lizards, tortoises, mongooses and more
Open all year from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 18.00 (except in July and August: from 10.00 to 19.00). For more information contact: (00 33) 5 49 91 23 45 or visit http://www.ileauxserpents.com
The famous Armoury at Chatellerault has been a Motor Museum since 1999. 150 vehicles are on show including motorbikes and cycles, plus posters and engines. Try simulated driving and see how an engine works. Special children’s area. Open daily July -mid Sept (except Tues); daily Feb - 30 June (except Mon and Tues). Children under 13 free.