30 October 2018
The House of the Master of Dykes, a site to visit for understand the Marais poitevin
Located in the heart of the Marais poitevin in Chaillé-les-Marais (Vendée), the House of the Master of Dykes is a true emblematic site. Far away from the Green Venice and its yearly floods, the water management of agricultural land from the dry marshes of Vendée has always been a major issue. From the 17th century up to 1970, this role had been given to a man from the marsh, the Master of Dykes.
Water management, a historical issue of the Marais poitevin
A fundamental element of the Marais poitevin, whether it is wet or dry marsh, water us a very important and disputed issue since the creation of dykes. With the second phase of development of the Marais poitevin in the 17th century came a new role: Master of Dykes. Chosen among the members of the “Syndicat du Petit Poitou” – an association of marsh land owners – this expert had to manage the water levels in order to preserve the quite delicate balance between the wet marsh and the dry marsh. He watched over the canals and hydraulic structures. Often in the middle of conflicts or even power struggles, the Master of Dykes was up to 1970 the man who had the most important decisions about this topic in the South of Vendée.
Room in the House of the Master of Dykes in the Marais poitevin regional nature Park
An emblematic place of the Marais poitevin in Vendée
Open to the public as an eco-museum, the House of the Master of Dykes will let you learn more about the living conditions and activities of the former residents. During the visit, you get a close look at the daily life of those men, filled with memories. In what was once the official accommodation of the Master of Dykes, the tour is playful and explanatory. A first film traces the origins of the dyke and its issues, while another one gets focused on the features and difficulties of the job. Bakery, barn, living room, animals like goats and Poitou donkey: you learn at each step of the visit more about the simple yet full lifestyle of men and women who lived there.
A costumed visit for everyone
booklet game for kids
During the summer period, every Tuesday is kids’ day. Storytelling by the chimney, visit of the house with headdresses and hats, carriage ride or on a donkey: activities tend to be playful and adapted to youngsters. The game booklet, available for kids aged 7-12, will let them participate in the search for Margaux, the water fairy.
For older people, a guided tour is available on Thursdays. Guided by the Master’s wife, you will learn about the house and the daily routine of this essential character of the Marais poitevin.
At the same time playful, well documented and staged, the House of the Master of Dykes of the Marais poitevin in Chaillé-les-Marais, in Vendée, is an essential place if you want to learn more about water management and housing in the 1900s. Faithful reconstitutions, exhibitions, explanatory videos and guided visits resurrect this place full of memories!
House of the Master of Dykes
7 rue de la Coupe du Rocher – 85450 Chaillé les Marais
+ 33 2 51 56 77 30
Book your ticket to visit the House of the Master of Dykes