Discover the Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park and experience some unique activities with your children: hiking with a donkey, sleeping in a trapper tent, discovering wonderful birds, and visiting the charming village of Arçais and the Zoodyssée zoological park.
Stubborn as a mule !
To start our weekend in the heart of the Marais Poitevin, we suggested an extraordinary adventure to our daughter, something completely different: exploring Green Venice with a donkey. She loved her new four-legged friend and we decided on the 6km loop recommended by« Le Coq à l’âne », along the canals of the Marais Poitevin. This magnificent route introduces you to some very rare species: the Marais iris, the Maraîchine cow, Angelica and beautiful kingfishers. We had brought a picnic so we could stop for lunch in the middle of this unspoilt nature, as if we were lost in the middle of nowhere. We sometimes had trouble getting the donkey going, the expression stubborn like a mule was very apt.
At the end of the day, we had a crepe in port d’Arçais ; a typical Maraîchin village. We strolled through narrow streets filled with art. And we had a funny experience by taking a ride on the Bief de la Garenne: going from one bank to the other in a chain boat! You just have to get into the boat on the bank and hoist the chain to reach the other side. And finally, a calm and refreshing stroll along the canal before settling into our trapper tent for a great, well-deserved night’s sleep, surrounded by animals.
From Momo the flycatcher to coypu paté, via Le Port de Coulon !
The Marais Poitevin is a fantastic natural area. I didn’t think it would be so big! 100,000 hectares! In the ornithological park, Les Oiseaux du Marais Poitevin’, we saw 75 species in a shaded setting/ Gabrielle followed Momo the flycatcher's fun trail; she’s now an expert on migratory birds!
We then had a lovely boat trip, before having a lunch made from local produce, served in the park. Sylvain loved the Angelica jam, a Marais Poitevin speciality. Early afternoon, we set off for Le Port de Coulon, the ‘capital’ of Green Venice, to visit the Maison du Marais poitevin centre . The boatman recommended it so we could really understand the Marais Poitevin marshland. And, when we left, we understood how exceptional the Marais is, its ingenious hydraulic system, the mysterious life of the eel, the boats (even the cement ones) and their uses, the history of the Marais Poitevin through a fun show…Gabrielle even managed to complete her activity booklet, she was delighted. Leaving through the shop, we tasted Coypu paté, yes, that’s right, coypu! We bought some to impress our friends when we get home!
Did you know ?
# THE BOATMEN’S MAGICAL TOUR
During autumn, the leaves fall into the canals, where they decompose slowly. This process releases methane, a highly flammable gas, which is trapped under the silt in the canals. Using his pole, called a ‘pigouille’ in the Marais, the boatman stirs up the canal bed, releasing the pockets of methane. Then, the water is set ‘alight’, simply using a lighter on the surface.
Zoodyssée's marvels !
Today, it's Zoodyssée, about 30 minutes from the Marais, in the heart of the unspoilt forest of Chizé. Wolves, bears, lynx, raccoons, vultures, magot monkeys, bison, flamingos… 800 animals live in this magnificent animal park. It really is big and the enclosures are so spacious that it feels like you’re just taking a walk through nature.
We had lunch at the park café. Gabrielle spent a long time in the mini-farm stroking and watching the sheep, goats and guinea pigs. Zoodyssée is evolving all the time and new features are introduced each year... A great reason to come back again!
Did you know ?
# ZOOKEEPER FOR A DAY
Very committed to animal welfare and the protection and conservation of species, the park offers several events to raise public awareness. For example, you can accompany a keeper for a day and help them take care of the animals.
WHERE TO SLEEP AND EAT, WHAT TO DO?
Did Gabrielle’s adventure tempt you? On a break in this little marsh paradise, discover the 'hiking route’, some unusual accommodation on site, or even taste the famous Angelica jam (a Marais Poitevin speciality) and the delicious coypu paté. You can also go for a family donkey ride, explore the Maison du Marais Poitevin centre, and, finally, have fun with the fantastic animals at Zoodyssée.
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