A visit to France would not be complete without taking in Marais Poitevin, the perfect place to unwind and escape from the stresses of life. There is something about Marais Poitevin that seems to slow life down as soon as you enter it. Located in the western part of France, Marais Poitevin is a stunning and tranquil area of marshland.
The eastern zone is called the wet marsh and it consists of islets that are criss-crossed by numerous picturesque canals. The western zone is near the sea and known as the dry marsh. Every year the entire marshland area attracts numerous visitors to marvel at the unique landscape.
Below are some of the popular attractions in the area.
The Green Venice
This is basically the area known as the wet marsh. It has natural water channels, meadows and man-made canals that stretch for miles. Green duck weed covers the canals, thus the name Green Venice. There are also fens and dykes inhabited by wildlife. Poplar trees that rustle and bend in the wind dominate the landscape. Taking a boat or canoe ride is one of the best ways of exploring this beautiful area. One can also opt to walk, take a bike ride, use a horse-drawn carriage or join an organized tour.
There are a number of beautiful villages worth visiting. One of the most popular is Coulon, known as the capital of Green Venice. It is located on the banks of River Sèvre Niortaise and features picturesque marshlander houses with brightly coloured shutters and white washed walls. There are also more elegant houses with white stone walls. By the river, there is the famous Mison de Marais Mouilles where river taxes were once collected. It is now a museum popular with visitors.
This town is popular because of its unique history. It was the home of Benedictine monks who drained the Picton gulf and it is also the site of a ruined abbey originally built in 1003. Visitors are able to view the seven halls of the abbey's monastic buildings that include a kitchen, refectories, dormitories, salt store and a cellar. They can also view remains of the cathedral which are very imposing. The town also has a church dating back to the 12th century. The abbey hosts numerous events during the holiday season including night-time spectaculars.
This area has some designated nature reserves and places with wildlife watching facilities. The most popular reserves are Baie de l'Aiguillon, St. Denis du Payre, Reserve Biologique de Nalliers-Mouzeuil and le Poire-sur-Velluire. These nature reserves are packed with numerous species of wild birds and some rare wild animals such as checkered fritillary, deer, European otter, herons and Rosalina alpine.
Marais Potevin is a curious and unique region that seems to operate on its own timescale. Apart from its numerous attractions, this region has restaurants and accommodation for all types of budgets. As soon as you enter here, life seems to slow down and you can definitely expect to have the time of your life. It is definitely an area not to be missed.
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