Great Country Fair in September 2018 at the abbey!

Taking place on Sunday 30thSeptember, the Great Country Fair of Réau Abbey makes its first annual appearance this year.

Housed at the breath-taking Royal Abbey of La Réau (86350 St. Martin l’Ars), deep in the heartland of the New Aquitaine, this major tourist event is expected to attract up to 10,000 visitors for the day and generate significant funds for the restoration of the Augustinian Abbey, a classified historic monument and glorious testament to the flowering of monastic art in the Middle Ages.

Réau is well-placed to host the event, given its excellent access for tourists by motorway, TGV and airport – 50 km south of Poitiers, an hour from both Limoges and Angouleme and an hour and 90 minutes from La Rochelle.

The Great Country Fair will showcase an unspoiled part of France boasting a wealth of countryside tradition among its inhabitants – all staged in a perfect riverside setting.

Based on well-known country fairs such as those held annually at Chatsworth and Burghley House, the Great Country Fair brings a fascinating French flavour to an English tradition. From 10 am to 6pm, visitors will be free to roam the paths of the 37-acre grounds, exploring exhibitors’ stands, sampling and buying wares drawn from themes of artisanal skills and produce, gastronomy and fine wine, farming and hunting, heritage, history and the environment; collecting andl’art de vivre.

There is ample space, too, for watching an exciting daylong programme of events, mixing traditional and modern – from displays of horsemanship, dressage, falconry and acrobatics to hot air balloon trips and parachute jumps. Demonstrations will span a medieval construction site with life-size “squirrel cage” and scaffolding, vintage cars, hunting fanfares, draft horses, jousting and medieval siege machines – plus competitions ranging from horse-racing, pony and donkey shows to tug-o’-war and children’s games.

The entry fee covers full access to the Fair, all events and displays, and the Abbey itself.

 The Great Country Fair of Réau Abbey is supported by a range of regional exhibitors, professionals, associations and organisations, joining together to make this as complete a rural experience as possible, in a magical environment – and a wonderful day out for everyone.

Don’t miss this spectacular celebration of country life!



 Launching an ambitious celebration of country life in our region 

The Great Country Fair of Réau Abbey hoists the flag for the Vienne, Gartempe and surrounding region with a day of festivity and fascination for all ages.

Set in the exquisite Abbey parkland, between 60 and 80 exhibitors will display the wealth of tradition in our region – be it good living, fine art and culture, agricultural and artisanal skills, country pursuits, heritage and tourism.

Our aim is not only to promote the countryside but to show the powerful ties which weave together its way of life. And of course, by introducing Réau Abbey to thousands more people, we aim to raise funds needed for its restoration.

Exhibitors and entertainment

Exhibitors will be grouped thematically throughout the grounds around the Abbey and its buildings, against a backdrop of spectacle and programmed events. There will be children’s games and activities – from pony rides to workshops and a medieval siege tower – and an atmosphere of constant interaction with, and surprises from, the performers. And of course, onsite food and drink including spit-roasted pig, hot boudin and other regional specialties and tastings.

The overall result will be an unforgettable kaleidoscope of experience, colour and the unexpected.

From near and far

As well as drawing in the nearby population, we want to create awareness much further afield that this is a day not to be missed – a “must-see” event for visitors well beyond our immediate borders. So every effort is being made to ensure that the last Sunday in September presents an irresistible cornucopia of regional riches.

We’re aiming for anywhere up to 10,000 people, weather permitting!

Communications and sponsorship

A major campaign is being launched to publicise the event, starting with the 4×3 Network in Poitiers, using advertising hoardings and buses. We will also be featuring on FR3 and Radio France Bleu, and in local press and social media.

Flyers and posters are being massively distributed and we are producing 10,000 Programmes for circulation throughout the coming months, as well as on the day itself. This will carry advertising support from our numerous sponsors*.


 Preserving traditional arts, crafts and skills

The Great Country Fair will promote all aspects of regional life, using live demonstrations to engage people in celebrating its traditions – to watch, understand and learn:

  • Stone-mason, blacksmith, farrier, ropemaker, cabinet-maker, joiner and wood-turner: stand beside each of these gifted artisans and share in their creative skills.
  • Animal husbandry of the Poitou: hear straight from the farmers of their daily routines and passionate interest in raising award-winning regional breeds – bulls, Limousin cattle, sheep, classic Baudet donkeys, goats, horses and hunting dogs – all in our very own paddocks.
  • Permaculture, horticulture, gardening and nursery farming:those who work the land will present the crops that flourish here and the trees, fruits and vegetables.
  • Produce of the soil : sample a range of selected specialities from local producers including organic goodies, terrines, beer, “appellation” cheese, and many more.
  • Wines and spirits: Cognac, Pineau, the wine houses and domainesof Haut-Poitou, Saumur and Charente.
  • Country pursuits: meet the hunting and fishing federations which work to ensure the conservation of our wildlife and the safe practice of field sports.
  • Modern heritage: cutlers, pottery, sculptors and ceramists.

Food, apple juice and bier.

Les cochons d’Antan, Pois Chic, and Bobby will serve you yummy food all day.


 Entertainment: As well as the exhibits on offer, visitors will be regaled with a wide variety of activities, with something for everyone: pony-rides, hot-air ballooning, climbing wall, team competitions like tug-o-war, sack races, battle archery. Take a guided tour of the Abbey; or join a workshop in yodelling, cooking, stone-masonry or medieval construction (exactly as done in the Middle Ages!)

Performances: In the Abbey park, the day will be punctuated by a programme of fabulous spectacles to be revealed on the day – but you can expect equestrian events including dressage and carriage races, falconry (The Giants of the Sky); tumblers and fire-eaters, the Orcs – and much more.

Art and collecting:Writers, artists, water-colourists and photographers will all exercise their talents before your eyes.

 Vehicles, airplanes, machines: Tractors, motorbikes, vintage cars, gyrocopters, microlights!

Showcasingregional tourism:  We will be welcoming many of the other fabulous tourist attractions of the surrounding area on the day, including those partnering with us to sponsor the Great Country Fair, together with local Tourist offices and businesses.

 Associations and Federations:    Firemen, Federations for Hunting and Fishing etc.

Our full programme of performers and exhibitors will continue to evolve over the coming weeks: we want to leave the door open for artists and exhibits that may come to us from other countries….


Date and time                                    Sunday 30th September: 10am – 6 pm

 Tarif for 2018 Fair     :

Adults: 10€

Children (under 12): FREE

Youngsters: (12 to 16): 5 €

Food and drink for sale around the Fair – including spit-roasted hog; hot blood pudding, grills, delicatessen, catering, fish’n chips, drinks.

Tickets & Reservations

ON SITE:                   Abbey entrance, daily from 1erAvril 2018 (2p.m.-6p.m.)

On the day of the Great Country Fair, from 10 a.m.

BY POST:                   Tickets will be sent to address provided.

Information : 05 49 87 03 08                                                      E-mail

All the informations in the media pack


Would you like to exhibit?

Exhibitors’ pack English

Contact us for any information.

We look forward to seeing you!