On the very edge of the Poitevin marshlands, the medieval city of Niort is the gateway to the bucolic landscapes of “Green Venice”. Close to the Hotel Saint-Martin, it’s a world of water and canals, a kingdom of silence, an area with unique fauna and flora and well-preserved heritage, right by the capital of the Deux-Sèvres department. Let’s explore the marshlands.
Niort is found to the east of the Poitevin marshlands: the ideal starting point for multi-faceted voyage of discovery. Water has shaped the landscapes around here for millennia. With the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the rushing water of rivers on the other, a wide flood-prone gulf lies in the middle. It has taken 10 centuries of human development for the marshlands to reach their current state. Dams protecting the highlands from the onslaught of the ocean and other water, irrigation canals and floodgates have made it possible for life to flourish. Spread across some 90,000 hectares, the Poitevin marshlands are the second biggest wetlands in France, made up of three different areas: the wet marsh, the dry marsh and the coastal area of the Aiguillon bay. A truly unique area with its contrasting, thriving and dynamic landscapes, the wet marshlands of this “Green Venice” between Maillé and Niort are strikingly beautiful. Its labyrinth of narrow canals and channels, lined with ash and poplar trees, are home to a unique ecosystem. Travel on a traditional flat boat and enjoy being taken on a tour of this fabulous aquatic maze: listen to its ancient tales, relax into its slow pulsating rhythm and keep your eyes peeled for herons, eels, tree frogs and otters. The marshlands are an ideal natural place to visit, no matter how you like to get about: by bike, on foot or on horseback.
Back on solid ground, the medieval town of Niort – and its impressive castle – are ready to welcome you. Take full advantage of everything the “Green Venice” region has to offer by visiting Maillé and its aqueduct, the abbeys in Maillezais and Nieul-sur-l’Autise and the Château de Coudray-Salbart.
Just a few miles from the Hotel Saint-Martin, the regional natural park of the Poitevin Marshlands is home to a host of treasures. During your stay, enjoy a visit to this exceptional space, find out about its history and savor a taste of its gourmet products in the hotel’s restaurant.
Photo credit : Gilbertus/Trappeur21/Antoine.gacioch