Parthenay is a town in the Deux-Sèvres, in the Aquitaine region, 50 km north-east of Niort.
The city is considered the capital of the natural and historical region of Gâtine, which makes up the central third of the department, between the Vendée in the west and the region of Poitiers in the east.
The locality whose territory is vast of 11 km ² developed on a spur dominating a loop of the course of Thouet. Step on the pilgrimage path to Saint-Jacques, it is strengthened by its lords who combine with the opportunities with the Counts of Anjou or Poitiers and change alliances during the Hundred Years War.
Affected by the wars of religion, Parthenay then found some prosperity thanks to its famous livestock fair, then in the nineteenth century the establishment of textile units and then its food industry.
Now with almost 11,000 inhabitants, Parthenay and its surroundings are labeled Country of Art and History, thanks to a heritage preserved and highlighted. But the city is also appreciated for its green environment and cultural vitality.
Long nicknamed "the small Carcassonne of the West", Parthenay offers visitors a wide range of heritage buildings (citadel, castle, ramparts, churches and number of old houses with timber sides) justifying long walks in this city too rich than picturesque.
Among the must-sees, the old seigniorial castle built in the eleventh century, of triangular shape, and which remain the defensive elements in granite. The lodgings are gone.
From the medieval wall, which was marked with 30 towers, were preserved several testimonies.
On the religious level, the church of St. Peter "Parthenay le Vieux", slightly eccentric, Romanesque style, dates from the eleventh century and we appreciate its rich ornamentation outside (sculptures). The Notre-Dame de la Coultre church, former chapel of the castle, dismantled by the wars of religion and during the Revolution, remains a remarkable Romanesque portal where sculptures evoke "the announcement to Zachariah of the birth of Saint John the Baptist "," the Annunciation to Mary "or representing" the Christ surrounded by angels and the six old men of the Apocalypse ". Note that some bas-reliefs are preserved at the Louvre Museum in Paris. We will still include in a circuit the Sainte-Croix church, former collegiate church of the castle, built in the twelfth century. It has undergone many modifications and restorations over the centuries and its portal has been razed.
On the civil level, to see also, the door of the Citadel (or clock tower) with its two almond towers (XIII), surmounted by a belfry built in the fifteenth century, and had a guard room overlooking the rampart walkway. As for the gate of the Citadel, it is the link between the city and the fortified wall, from which one enjoys a view of the picturesque district of Saint-Paul.
Other sites or buildings of this "small Carcassonne": the Bastille of Richemont (XVth century) built to reinforce the castle because of the progress of the artillery, and the turns of Powder and Harcourt (XIII) are still worth look.
Guided tours of the entire historic heart are proposed by the Tourist Office (information on +33 5 49 64 24 24).
As for the Interpretation Center for Architecture and Heritage, it offers exhibitions, a documentary center and a teaching area. Information on +33 5 49 94 92 31.
A visit to the city museum provides a better understanding of the history of this ancient city through collections of archaeological objects, ancient documents, models and, in another tradition, a splendid collection dedicated to knowledge -make local in terms of earthenware. Open all year from Wednesday to Sunday. Closed during Christmas holidays. Free entry. Information on +33 (0) 5 49 94 90 27. The museum is housed in the House of Cultures de Pays, at the foot of the emblematic Porte Saint-Jacques, where there is also a space dedicated to live shows. Information on +33 5 49 64 85 10.
In terms of culture, the Cordeliers Chapel (Gothic style, dating back to the 13th century), is now dedicated to hosting artistic exhibitions from the end of March to the end of October. Contact at +33 5 49 64 85 10. And lastly, there is the Archipelago hall, which was built in what was the tribunal under the Revolution, and which includes a studio and spaces dedicated to singing and dancing, and the Diff'Art hall devoted to contemporary music and a program of numerous concerts. throughout the year (jazz, rock...). Information on +33 5 49 64 85 10.
After these sites dedicated to heritage and culture, place the many parks and gardens of the city.
Starting with the leisure center adjacent to the campsite, bordering the Thouet, vast 7 hectares for walking and relaxation. There is also a sports course, picnic tables and playgrounds.
In the center, the Férolle garden was laid out in the medieval spirit of yesteryear. Are gathered an orchard, a "terrace of simple" dedicated to medicinal plants, around a fountain, a lawn and flowered area, the "meadow", and a kitchen garden.
Decidedly rich in the matter, Parthenay still has the garden of the Avenue General de Gaulle, the park of Loges (classified site), which includes a course around a pond lined with trees, the Prée, space natural green, from which one enjoys an exceptional view on the ramparts and the castle, and finally the space Chico Mendès, which are all pleasant places to walk.
For larger hikes, other routes and circuits are marked from the city or crossing, such as the greenway on an old railway or the GR36 (which connects the Channel to the Mediterranean via the Deux-Sèvres). Maps and information on +33 5 49 64 24 24.
In terms of sports and recreation, the city has a bowling alley (contact +33 5 49 65 07 70), a 4-hectare motocross ground accessible to visitors and tourists, a skate park and finally an aquatic center that combines swimming, games and relaxation (25 m pool, beaches and solariums, giant slide, beach volleyball...). Price: 3.10 and 4.30 euros. Information on +33 5 49 71 08 90.