The headquarters of the main French mutual insurance companies are based in the capital of the Deux-Sèvres, a city with a welcoming and pleasant historic centre, where you can enjoy a stroll along the pedestrian shopping streets.
As the city's flagship monument, the imposing outline of Niort Keep stands out against the landscape. A relic of the old fortress built in the 12th century by Henry II Plantagenet and Richard the Lionheart, this majestic ensemble, formed of two square towers joined by a main building from the 15th century, is one of the finest twin keeps of France! Its rooms house a museum with exhibitions about local archaeology (from the Bronze Age to the High Middle Ages), and popular arts and traditions (recreation of the inside of a Poitevin home, regional headdresses). After admiring the panoramic views over the town's roofs from the keep's terrace, head towards Niort's pedestrian streets, which are dotted with old façades such as the Governor's House, Rue Saint-Jean, and Estissac Mansion, Rue du Petit-Saint-Jean. At the heart of the historic quarter, the Pilori, an old town hall in the Renaissance style, built on the former site of the medieval pillory, has now been converted into a visual arts space that hosts exhibitions of contemporary works.
Based in an old secondary school for girls, on Avenue de Limoges, Bernard d'Agesci Museum has three collections to discover: Fine Arts (16th to 19th-century paintings, 19th and 20th-century sculptures, decorative arts), Natural History (ornithology, geology, osteology), and the Conservatory of Education (school objects and scientific devices illustrating a century-and-a-half of teaching).
Whether you are more into shopping or architecture and culture, enjoy a break at one of the café terraces in the old town! Then head to the banks of the Sèvre Niortaise, where you will have a lovely view of the spires of the Church of St. Andrew, Romanesque keep and market hall in the Baltard style. Near the old bridges lies a haven of greenery, the Coulée Verte, for a nice walk along the Sèvre Niortaise...
To stock up on fresh products, head to the market hall in Niort, where there is a market every morning from Tuesday to Sunday, as well as a big market on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
On Thursdays in July and August, the Thursdays in Niort festival takes place in the gardens of Le Roc windmill, a summer event for contemporary music.