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Marais Poitevin - Poitou marshes


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Site map - France, French Atlantic Coast, the Marais Poitevin (the Marsh of Poitou),  boat trip in the Venise Verte (Green Venice)

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The Marais Poitevin

to discover

Marais Poitevin

Marais Poitevin, landmarks

Tour of discovery

Coulon, Green Venice

Practical information

To see, north to south

The "Marais Poitevin"

La Rochelle

Island of Ré

Island of Aix



Madame Island

Island of Oléron




La Tremblade


La Palmyre









To do


Boat trips





The market


Drives through the vineyards

Drives through the marshes

Drives through the forest


To know

The Romanesque Art


The Citadel of Brouage

The Citadel of Blaye

The lighthouses

The forest of La Coubre

The marshes

The "Marais Poitevin"

The carrelets

The ostreiculture

Vine and wines

To taste






Sea food

"Terroir" products

The restaurants



Marsh - Home


Coulon tour of discovery

practical information

A Boat trip in the heart of the Green Venice (Venise Verte), starting from Coulon

At Coulon, you can take a trip on a boat from numerous jetties, either by yourself or accompanied by a skipper who'll steer and will give a running commentary on your river trip.

He will tell you about his marsh sincerely and with passion.

He will also show you the different aquatic plants and will describe their individual perfumes and flavours, as well as explaining the medicinal values of some of them.

Enthusiasts can taste them and you will be in good hands if you get an enthusiastic and competent skipper such as Joachim, nick-named "Machin". 

This young man, a student in Tourism, has navigated  his grandfather’s boat, since he was six years old.

He knows everything about the fauna of the marsh and in particular on coypu rodents (ragondins).

If I had the talent of Philippe Delerme, I would describe all of this to you,  but the next best thing is to come and see and listen for yourselves.

Firing the surface of the water

Joachim also knows how to fire the surface of the water with a lighter.

Witchcraft or magic? Neither of them, simply: chemistry.

Pockets of methane are formed from place to place in the bottom of the water, by the decomposition of plants.

"Machin" knows where to find these gas pockets.

He stirs up the bottom of the water with his paddle to make the gas rise to the surface.

He then just lights the lighter and the gas ignites.

Not all of the skippers will let you discover this natural magic.

Here is a tip to help you choose the "right" skipper: if he has hairy arms, he won't make the small orange-coloured flame shine on the water; if on the contrary, he has smooth arms, he is an expert because he has burnt all the hairs off of his arms !

By continuing along the canal, you will pass plots of land surrounded by ditches, where thoughtful-looking cows, the  "limousine breed", will stare while ruminating, at the curious tourists in the small flat boats with squared fronts, boats which formerly served for transporting them (the cows) from one bank to another.

"Machin’s boat" continues to glide slowly along the  canals, which are covered with a film of green weeds, that merge with the marshlands.

The legend of the red arm

It is said that numerous children were drowned there long ago.

A legend arose from these dramas:

The children were told that when they found a green carpet at a lower level than the bank,  they had to stop two metres away from the carpet, otherwise a red arm would move out of the water and would catch them.

It seems that this tale decreased the number of children drowning.

I don't know if today the "red arm" would frighten the children ?

"Oh! Already!"

Finally, the trip ends at the "Bridge of the Sighs ", so called because the skipper says when arriving:

"Ouf! It's finished!".

And the passengers sigh as they finish the trip, saying:
"Oh! Already!".

I like the authenticity and simplicity of the places and people from this area.

If you wish, you can continue your trip by car and go and discover the other towns and the other wild and mysterious sites, strewn with jetties, where you will also have the pleasure of discovering by yourself or accompanied, the bewitching scenery of the Marais Poitevins.

Note: this trip was made in September

La Trigale

6, rue de l'Eglise

79510 Coulon

tel. 33 (0)5 49 35 14 14


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