Grand Poitiers is an urban community of 143,000 inhabitants in the Poitou-Charentes region in western central France. The main city, Poitiers, is the capital of both the Vienne département and the Poitou-Charentes region. With 90,000 inhabitants, Poitiers is a historic town located on the River Clain, with a youthful profile. More than 80% of the population is under 59 years old and Poitiers is a major university city with some 25,000 students.
The historic centre, with its narrow streets, half-timbered buildings and pedestrian zones, is an attractive destination for tourists. The city also has numerous impressive Romanesque churches, notably with the 12th century Saint-Pierre Cathedral. Tourists are also drawn to the area by the nearby Futuroscope site, a combination of a science/technology theme park and a research centre. In terms of businesses, the area has a particular focus on biotechnology, life sciences and IT, along with research and training in the area of sustainable development. To support its technology firms, the Grand Poitiers area has a high-speed fibre optic service for 40 business parks, along with France Telecom telephone exchanges and educational institutions. The city has good also transport facilities and high-speed rail links to Bordeaux and Paris, with the capital just an hour and 40 minutes away. Its airport serves destinations in France and the UK.
Between university campuses, institutes and ‘Grandes écoles’, tertiary education is a major part of the city’s social and economic fabric. Founded in the 15th century and the second oldest in France, the University of Poitiers includes François Rabelais and René Descartes among its alumni.