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    HomeGlobal Travel'France’s Inexperienced Venice': Why Marais Poitevin is the nation’s best-kept gradual journey...

    ‘France’s Inexperienced Venice’: Why Marais Poitevin is the nation’s best-kept gradual journey secret

    Fall in love with gradual journey as you discover the Marais Poitevin by boat and bike.

    Tree branches tickle the floor of a tiny canal whereas a small wood punt lazily elements the duckweed. No, we’re not within the Wind within the Willows. We’re within the Marais Poitevin – France’s ‘Venice Vert’ or Inexperienced Venice.

    This man-made maze of streams, rivers and canals was formed by generations of market gardeners – and it’s excellent for back-to-nature biking and boating.

    A marshland second solely in dimension to the Camargue, this ‘Grand Web site de France’ on the Atlantic coast is protected for wildlife and distinctive cultural historical past. tenth century Benedictine monks had been the primary to begin digging the maze of drainage canals you may discover right here.

    The Marais Poitevin is break up into two distinct areas – the agricultural patchwork of canals, fields and villages to the west, and the wild, verdant Marais Sauvage to the east.

    One of the simplest ways to discover it’s to decelerate. Right here’s how.

    The right way to discover the Marais Poitevin nature reserve by bike

    This was the second my 5 12 months outdated fell in love together with her bike. Little legs furiously pedalling alongside the sleek tarmac, hair whipping within the wind.

    We had been biking from Taugon to fairly riverside Damvix for lunch. Our vacation spot was Le Recré – an outdated elementary schoolhouse-turned crêperie and pizzeria adorned with retro academia.

    By no means has anybody been extra happy with a 14 km journey. And by no means has anybody been extra deserving of the ‘boule de glace’ on the finish of a ‘menu enfant’.

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    Our journey adopted the river – La Sevre Niortaise – alongside quiet roads punctuated by bridges and lock gates. We handed weeping willows and tile-roofed stone homes with vibrant shutters. As a mild vacation journey, it was heaven.

    850 km of flat marked biking trails take you throughout the Marais Poitevin from Niort to the Atlantic Coast. Appropriate for all ages and skills, these hyperlink to native Vendée Vélo biking routes and embrace the ultimate part of the long-distance Vélo Francette path.

    Obtain the official routes to your telephone utilizing the IGNrando route-sharing app or try the crowd-sourced circuits on Komoot.

    Bikes might be rented all through the Marais Poitevin. A day’s rent with La Bicyclette Vert in Arçais, for instance, begins from €20 per grownup, with reductions for longer hires.

    The right way to navigate Marais Poitevin by boat

    Marais Poitevin is a spot that conjures up serenity – and there is no higher technique to expertise the area’s timeless sense of escapism than by boat.

    You’ll discover embarcadères – small boating piers – all around the marsh, however among the loveliest are within the villages of Arçais, Coulon and La Garette.

    Skilled native guides punt you alongside in conventional flat-bottomed boats, sharing the tales that formed the panorama as you glide by the inexperienced. In case you’re feeling adventurous, go it alone in a kayak or canoe.

    In Arçais, you’ll have entry to 40 km of navigable tree-lined canals. A two hour guided boat journey with commentary on the historical past and wildlife of the area with Embarcadère Bardet-Huttiers begins at €28 per individual.

    As soon as again on shore, potter across the village vintage outlets, or be a part of within the Maraisthon festivities – the primary eco Marathon on the earth – in Coulon in June.

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    For an perception into native birdlife take a small boat from the pontoon on the Ouiseaux de Marais Poitevin – dwelling to 75 native species – in St Hilaire La Palud.

    For a contact of historical past, head to the Benedictine Abbaye de St Pierre at Maillezais. Right here conventional ‘barques’ take you on a circuit of the canals surrounding the towering ruins – which as soon as stood on an island.

    Exploring past the Marais Poitevin

    When (if ever) you’ve had your fill of the Marais quiet life, attractive La Rochelle is simply 45 minutes to an hour away by automotive. Or take the practice from Niort or Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon.

    Right here, stylish fish eating places line the outdated harbour within the shadow of its historical chain towers, and boutique outlets are tucked into galleried streets.

    In summer time, the seashores of the Ile de Ré beckon. As do the moules frites on the quayside at UNESCO-listed St Martin de Ré.

    Alternatively, browse the contemporary produce on provide in Niort’s distinctive Baltard-style lined market till 1pm day by day (besides Mondays). Or, experience a historic extravaganza on the Le Puy du Fou amusement park, round an hour and a half away.

    The place to remain once you go to the Marais Poitevin

    The Gîtes de France web site lists a number of waterside self-catering retreats within the Marais Poitevin. Or select a locally-run resort, just like the Resort au Marais within the coronary heart of Coulon.

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    Additional afield, Le Moulin du Chemin guesthouse in Scillé affords easy accessibility to the Marais Poitevin in addition to surrounding sights.

    The right way to get to the Marais Poitevin

    Travelling from the UK? Pack the automotive, bikes, youngsters and canine and take the ferry to the Marais Poitevin.

    The journey from Newhaven in West Sussex to Dieppe with DFDS Seaways takes 4 to 5 hours, with in a single day sailings and cabins out there (ebook early to safe one).

    Then the five-hour drive by France is well damaged within the Loire Valley, the place vineyards and chateaux present an pleasant respite.

    4 legged companions will love the fairytale – and really dog-friendly – Chateau d’Usse. Whereas wine-lovers can cease in Vouvray – simply 10 minutes off the motorway at Excursions – to refill. Go to Francois et Julien Pinon (by appointment) for high quality chenin blanc Vouvray white wines. Or, pop into one of many Maisons des Vins within the coronary heart of the village to style (and purchase) vintages from native producers.

    Brittany Ferries additionally affords routes from Portsmouth in England to St Malo, Caen, Cherbourg and Le Havre. St Malo to Coulon within the Marais Poitevin takes round three and a half hours by automotive.

    Most electrical autos will want topping up en route. Chargefinder has a complete record of electrical automotive charging factors in France.

    By practice, the Paris-La Rochelle TGV high-speed service stops in Niort or Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon and takes round three hours. From Niort, native bus providers hyperlink quite a lot of Marais Poitevin communities – together with Arçais and Coulon – on their technique to St Hilaire La Palud.

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