Green Venice

With its network of waterways, lush vegetation and verdant pastures, the Wet Marsh or Marais Mouillé of the Marais Poitevin is also known as France’s ‘Green Venice’. 

The main area of Wet Marsh borders the Sèvre-Niortaise river as it winds through the northern fringes of Poitou-Charentes towards the Baie de l’Aiguillon on the French Atlantic Coast.

Reclamation of the marshes began in earnest with the medieval monks, and their imposing Romanesque abbeys still tower over the flat landscape, where cows graze shady pastures bisected by tree-lined waterways.  Get close to nature in a traditional flat-bottomed punt (choose from self-drive or guided excursion); take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage; or hire bikes to explore the network of level towpath trails.

Relax at charming waterside villages like Coulon, home to the Maison du Marais Poitevin discovery centre, and Arçais with its authentic houses. Visit the family-friendly bird reserve at Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud and stop off in the bustling river port of Marans to climb the church tower to the glass viewing gallery.

In winter, Green Venice is often transformed into a ‘Marais Blanc’ or White Marsh, as seasonal rains saturate the landscape and provide yet another enchanting perspective on this magical marshland.

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