Also known as Poitevin Marsh, this is a wide area of marshlands or marais , around squareer sq mi. Le Marais Poitevin is a natural treasure, and it is best to explore its intertwined canals from a boat. Get on board a traditional boat to start your journey through a maze with the brightest green shades you have ever seen. Sailing through these canals is a unique experience, and you feel as if you are floating on a green cloud. You will be sailing in a barque , a flat-bottomed, wooden boat, used for centuries to haul lumber, grain, and livestock.
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The Marais Poitevin by boat
Around the Marais poitevin
The Marais Poitevin is a protected area covering a hundred thousand hectares, inhabited and developed by people since the Middle Ages. The word Marais is often translated as "marsh," but this is rather misleading - a better term might be wetlands or water meadows. The Marais Poitevin has both types of environment, with lush green pastureland and lower-lying wetlands criss-crossed by shady canals. As you'll find out, there's so much to do and see here — from boat trips to hiking or biking, you'll be spoiled for choice when explore this delightful protected natural area, centred on the mediaeval town of Fontenay-le-Comte. The waterways are covered by a green canopy of ash trees and poplars , a romantic and exotic getaway.
Photos of Marais Poitevin
A remnant of the former Gulf of Poitou, the Marais Poitevin is one of the most beautiful man-made landscapes there is. A stone's throw from the marshes are picturesque villages nestled around the Mervent-Vouvant forest. The Marais Poitevin is made up of , hectares of intertwined canals and countryside. It is divided into three zones: the coastal zone, the dry marsh which is used for agriculture and the wet marsh also known as "Green Venice" an area which floods in winter. There are plenty of jettys from where you can hire traditional boats to explore Green Venice's waterways. In the shade of pollarded Ash trees, barques traditional flat-bottomed boats complete with boatmen, if you so wish, will take you to the majestic doors of the Marais abbey in Maillezais. The bay of Aiguillon , is the point where the canals and rivers meet and where draining work has taken place, it is a key element in the ecological balance of the Marais Poitevin. The landscape changes with the rhythm of daily tides, from a bay dominated by extensive mud flats and salt marshes at low tide to almost total immersion of the bay at high tide limited only by man-made dykes. The bay is one of the most important sites in France for migrating birds, identified as a site for overwintering and a stopover for migrating birds of national and international importance. More information on the Marais Poitevin.
The Marais-Poitevin offers a natural environment that is unique in France. It is a region of marshes, canals and rivers and low-lying land and woodlands to the west of Niort, east of La Rochelle and south of Fontenay-le-Comte. The marshes fall within both the Pays-de-la-Loire and Poitou-Charente regions.