Encircled by forests and great medieval abbeys, the Poitevin Marshes occupy an area that was once a marine gulf dotted with islands and limestone peninsulas, such as Maillezais. They stretch over more than 90,000 hectares of canals and wilderness. Since the dawn of the Middle Ages, Benedictine monks have dug out canals and raised dikes over thousands of kilometres.
This is a land in which freshwater and seawater mix together - a particularity which gives the Poitevin Marshes an incomparable wealth of flora and fauna – for the great enjoyment of ramblers and nature-lovers. The wet marsh made the name of the Poitevin Marshes, with an amazing labyrinth of conches (canals) and channels which visitors can navigate by boat – either alone, or in the company of a guide who will tell them the history of the marshes. They can also be crossed on horseback, on foot, by bike or even by canoe. Known as Venise Verte (Green Venice), this is a magical place, where trees and water reign in perfect harmony. Poplars and pollarded ash trees border these waterways, offering a cool, peaceful place for a walk.