20 July 2021
Cycle along the quiet paths and enjoy the peace-and-quiet of the wild environment as you cross through the villages of the marshland. The diverse landscapes make this the perfect place for fishing, an activity that is very easy to try here. From abbeys to museums, dive head first into the history of the Marais poitevin and the people who have worked hard to shape the area for centuries. Go, wander, admire a land brimming with flavour and secrets!
Cycle from villages to hamlets
From Niort to Aiguillon Bay, there are 850 km of cycle paths to explore the Marais poitevin at a leisurely pace. The whole area is mainly flat and there are some great bike rides to do here through the villages and alongside the canals, accessible to all.
A bike ride in the village of Marans.
The river trail
From Arçais, a village in the Green Venice, there is a very pleasant 12-km cycle route, just follow the n°2 cycle route markers put in place by the Bicyclette Verte bicycle touring company. The loop trail will lead you through Damvix where you can stop off at a craft shop selling local products.
Then the route takes you to Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud, a village at the heart of the wet marshland, that can also be reached along the Fresnes trail. From the bridge in Damvix, this 19-km loop trail will lead you along some superb paths through the wild marshland.
The locks loop trail
Near Maillezais, from Maillé harbour, take the little routes that run alongside the Sèvre and Bourneau canal, via the Bazoin locks. The locks loop trail is a 2-hour bike ride along the water’s edge. Along the way, take the opportunity to admire the gate at Maillé church, a masterpiece of Romanesque art.
Bike rides in the Marais poitevin.
A bike ride with tasting of local products
How about a guided bike ride through the Marais poitevin? Damien from “Original Vélo Tour” will guide you and provide explanations of the surrounding scenery as you ride along. On this guided bike ride, you’ll also have the chance to meet some local producers from the marshland! Depending on the trail you choose, you can taste some oysters at Les Viviers d’Arçay or Fief-Vendéen wines.
Go fishing in the Marais poitevin
What better a way to slow down the pace than a fishing expedition? Whether you choose to go to the canals or along the coast, fishing in the Marais poitevin is always an enjoyable experience in a superb natural environment, with wild fish.
A getaway to the Esnandes carrelet
The educational carrelet (fishing hut) in Esnandes.
Facing the magnificent Aiguillon Bay, the Esnandes carrelet (fishing hut) is available to hire during high tide. This place is unique in that there is a combination of saltwater from the ocean and freshwater from the Marais Poitevin. You can catch sole, eels, prawns, cockles, clams, etc. here. Contact the House of the Marais poitevin Bay to get an introduction to fishing from a carrelet hut during high tide!
Fishing on the banks of the Lay
In the village of La Bretonnière-la-Claye, there is a pontoon available to use and a boat ramp at the “Pont du Gué”. Beginners can try to catch bream and roach. Close by, an ancient iron winch was once used to regulate the level of the water in La Claye marsh.
In the footsteps of the local builders
The Marais poitevin began to be shaped by man from as early as the Middle Ages and there is still evidence of the past here. While you’re staying in the area, come and see the iconic abbeys or learn about how the locals of the marshland lived here in bygone days.
In the footsteps of the monk builders
Construction of Maillezais Abbey began in the last year of the first millennium and it was a powerful fortress, transformed into a cathedral in the 14th century. A walk around this monument in the open air is very pleasant, as you wander along the alleys of the cloister and around the ruins of the various rooms of the monastery. There is a visitor’s tour with audio terminals, explaining the history of Maillezais Abbey.
The abbeys of Maillezais and Nieul-sur-l’Autise.
Venture into the dreamlike atmosphere of Nieul-sur-l’Autise royal abbey. This monument is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture and is a remarkably well-preserved monastery. In the upper galleries, there is a visitor’s tour on the theme of music and how it is represented through sculptures. Visitor’s will learn about medieval musical instruments thanks to sound and light effects.
Visit an ecomuseum devoted to the life of the local residents
In Chaillé-les-Marais, a tour of the House of the Master of Dykes will whisk you away into the life of the locals in bygone days. For more than three centuries, generations of “maîtres de digues” (masters of the dykes) lived here with their families, and today it has been transformed into an ecomuseum. Visitors can see what it’s like inside and learn about this very specific profession of master of the dykes. You can also visit a replica of a house where a local of the marshland once lived, in Coulon at the House of the Marais poitevin. The furniture and everyday objects are all from a family from Magné and they show what life was like in the 19th century for residents of the marshland.
The House of the Master of Dykes and the house of the Marais poitevin.