Where is the Poitevin marshland located?
The Poitevin marshland is one of the largest natural areas in France. With a surface area of 100,000 hectares, this immense wetland extends from Niort in the Deux-Sèvres to the Bay of Aiguillon in the Vendée, via the Charente-Maritime. The Poitevin marshland covers a total of 75 communes, spread over two different regions, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Pays de la Loire.
Discovery of the Marais-Poitevin
From the Atlantic coast to the Niort area, the Marais Poitevin Regional Park is home to the second largest wetland in the country after the Camargue. A former maritime gulf, the region is criss-crossed by numerous waterways and a network of canals forming the “Green Venice“. Of considerable ornithological interest, the Aiguillon Nature Reserve located at the mouth of the Sèvre Niortaise is home to a very rich flora and fauna.
In the heart of the Marais Poitevin, picturesque villages dot the countryside. Exceptional historical sites are also to be discovered, such as Maillezais Abbey, which dominates the marsh, Luçon Cathedral, or the Château de Terre-Neuve in Fontenay-le-Comte.
There are several marsh interpretation houses to visit, notably in Coulon, capital of the Venise Verte and classified as a “Grand Site de France“. Boat trips, hikes, donkey rides, cycling routes or even caravan tours, the Marais-Poitevin lends itself to many ways of discovery.
The Hotel Ile de Ré, Les Grenettes, is ideally located to discover all the riches of the Marais Poitevin
What to see in the Poitevin marshes?
The Poitevin marshes are renowned for their great ecological diversity. The walk is an opportunity to discover various invasive plants (baccharis, primrose, etc.), aquatic plants (marsh marigold, marsh hottonia, etc.), as well as those of the meadows (bastard iris, loose-leaved orchid, etc.), the banks (black alder, meadow avens, etc.) and the coastline (common loosestrife, glasswort, etc.)
The richness of the fauna is equally impressive. The marsh is home to many invasive species (coypu, American crayfish, etc.), birds (cattle heron, blackbird, etc.) and fish (roach, tench, etc.), as well as numerous reptiles and amphibians.
The Poitevin marshes can be explored by bike. Hikers can, for example, follow the seven loops of 16 to 33 km along the small roads and paths along the canals and towpaths. The more sporty will tackle the Vendée cycle paths, of which 100 km (out of a total of 1,000 km) pass through the Poitevin marshes. They can also take European routes linking Norway to Portugal, such as the Vélodyssée, 84 of whose 1,400 km total route winds through the marsh.
The Marais-Poitevin has a lot to offer to lovers of nature and rural scenery. The most popular activity is a trip in a flat-bottomed boat on the marsh canals.
There are many piers where you can hire a flat-bottomed boat for a tour of the labyrinthine marshland.
The Venise Verte is the most popular part of the Marais-Poitevin Nature Park: its canals, sometimes very narrow, lined with willows, pollarded ashes and alders offer a refreshing and enchanting water ride. You can therefore enjoy a boat trip in the regional nature park, which has been awarded the “Grand Site de France” label, near the town of Niort.
In Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud, an 8-hectare ornithological park offers you and your family the opportunity to discover the birds of the Marais Poitevin. In Coulon, the Maison du marais Poitevin (Poitevin marshland house) will enable young and old alike to learn more about the nature park, its history and its operation.
For an original and fun visit to the marshes, the Saint-Georges-de-Rex donkey farm offers donkey rides.
Discover the Charente-Maritime for your next holiday!
The Green Venice of the Marais Poitevin
The Poitevin marshes are the perfect place to reconnect with nature and cultivate the joy of living. The wetland can be explored on foot or by bike. You can also discover its biodiversity during a traditional boat trip. You can also discover its biodiversity during a traditional boat trip, which takes you through a labyrinth of canals and conches. The walk is made all the more pleasant by the lush scenery, with ash, willow and poplar trees lining the route.
Coulon, a commune located in the centre-west of the Deux-Sèvres department, is considered the capital of the Venise verte. Known for its beautiful houses on the banks of the Sèvre Niortaise, the village is a convenient starting point for a boat trip in the Venise Verte. Boat trips are also available from Arçais, another commune in the central-western Deux-Sèvres.