10 July 2019
The biggest canoeing event at night, the Rallye du Marais (Rally of the Marsh) is an event that gathers each year thousands of spectators and participants in the heart of the Marais poitevin. A colourful event, the Rallye du Marais is celebrating this year its 45th edition on the 29th and 30th June. Once again this big event will bring a lot of animation in the small village of Coulon for a summer weekend.
Canoes, kayaks and puzzles on the channels of Coulon
It has become one of the most popular festive events of the Marais poitevin. Each last weekend of June in Coulon (Deux-Sèvres), in the heart of the Green Venice, hundreds of crews embark on a crazy night. The Rallye du Marais is more than a simple race on the water, it is a big celebration. One of its particularities is the recommendation to wear a disguise as well as the disguise of the boat. Over the editions we can meet Captain America, Wonderwoman, a team of people wearing a “bigouden” (the traditional headdress from Brittany), a team of pirates, the Raving Rabbids, etc.
Rallye du Marais, a night-time canoeing event in the Marais Poitevin
The “Canoë-Kayak Niortais” canoeing club organises and manages with a steady hand this festive event that attracts each year more and more participants and onlookers who come to see the originality of the crews and enjoy the unconventional yet friendly atmosphere.
A festive mood in the Marais poitevin for a weekend
Departure of the Rallye du Marais on the Coulon docks
But what is this Rallye du Marais about?
In teams of minimum three canoes or four kayaks, participants enter a maze of big and small channels, at night and looking for checkpoints. In order to find those checkpoints disseminated around Coulon, they must solve puzzles that are given at the start of the race. At each checkpoint, an image helps to find a keyword. Once all the keywords have been collected, the teams can find out the annual theme of the rally. Teams have to complete the rally within five hours, or they face penalties. The ranking is done based on the time spent by the teams, the number of checkpoints found by the teams and the accuracy of the theme the team has found.
A true paper chase, the Rally is a unique experience for participants as well as spectators who come each year to see the crazy paddlers’ exploits.
Once a year, the car park of Autremont, in Coulon, looks like a giant fair. Everybody warms up, gets ready for the race and look for some warmth after hours on the water.
This giant demonstration, at the same time sporting, touristic and cultural, equally rewards the team with the best score of the race as well as the team with the most original disguise (rewarded by a jury).
But you can also take a boat trip in a more traditional way! Or take the time to visit museums and castles or stroll through the villages. Here are 12 things to do in the Marais poitevin.
To know all that is happening in the Marais Poitevin throughout the year, do not hesitate to consult the agenda.
Book now your boat trip or your entrance to a site visit.