After several days of swimming and beaches, we decided to explore the great outdoors and set off for the Marais Poitevin…
We came with picture-postcard images of a wild world in our heads: tree-lined canals, a carpet of green vegetation, flat-bottomed boats and marsh houses…
The Marais Poitevin, an exceptional nature park
The Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park, France’s second biggest wetland after the Camargue, stretches from the Bay of Aiguillon along the Atlantic coast to Niort. From our base in La Rochelle, we decided on a little local excursion in Charente-Maritime.
We set out late in the morning in the direction of Courçon d’Aunis, where we decided to stop because it was market day – the perfect opportunity to buy fresh products for our picnic lunch. The weather was great, and after making a few purchases, we found a sunny terrace near to this charming village’s unusual fortified Romanesque church.
A boat trip on the canals
We’d been advised to visit the village of La Grève-sur-le-Mignon to board a traditional boat for an unmissable trip. On our arrival, we discovered an imposing chimney stack and a restored red-brick building. Intrigued, we read in our guide that it’s a former brickworks.
We reached the pier and took our places on board a flat-bottomed boat for a trip through this maze of verdant canals. Our passionate guide told us all about this mysterious marshland, with its wealth of fauna, flora and traditions – he was inexhaustible. The kids were transfixed when, just like a magician, he conjured up flames on top of the water after stirring it up with his pole!
After this great trip it was time for lunch, and we decided to picnic near a pretty stone bridge across a canal just outside the village.
From the wet marshland to the dried marshland
We then headed to the locks at another pier in Bazoin, La Ronde, where we came across lots of people doing cycle tourism. That’s not surprising, because we were on a stretch of the Vélo Francette®, a bike route that crosses the marshland towards La Rochelle.
The last visit on the day’s agenda was to the Marais Poitevin Nature Park in Taugon. We left the “wet” marshland to discover the “dried” one which connects to the coast. We completed the tranquil 1.5km circuit around the pool and along the canal.
We left the marshland delighted and dazzled by the greenery on show, after an active, yet calm, day of discovery. We headed back to our seaside holiday base after one last stop at the pretty harbour of Marans on the banks of the Sèvre Niortaise River.