Boat trip in the Vendée marshes

Boat trip in the Vend ...

The Vendée is a land of sports and adventure. There's the ocean, of course, but also the marshes. In the south of the department, the Marais Poitevin is a green Venice, a veritable cathedral of vegetation and nature that transports you through unique and wild landscapes. A veritable Amazonia, a complete change of scenery. To the north of the département, the Marais Breton Vendéen (Le Marô, 90% of which is actually in the Vendée département) also promises some interesting river adventures. Cruise the canals in a boat, the famous "plate" or "yole", which is made to move by poking the canal floor with a "pigouille" or "ningue". Choose a region, a landing stage and off you go !

Photos © Guide de la Vendée unless otherwise stated


Guided walk on the Marais Poitevin or boat rental?

Our boat guides will take you on a river trip that's as unusual as it is educational. The guardians of this natural temple will tell you all about the fauna, flora and history of the marshes. It's a fascinating journey, taking you back to the very beginnings of human know-how in land and water management. The Marais Poitevin is a true flagship of green tourism, a marvel to discover with family or friends during your stay in the Vendée. Note that most of the piers are open from Easter to All Saints' Day (April to November roughly), and it is strongly recommended that you book in advance.

You can take a trip accompanied by a boatman, or hire a boat on your own. You will be provided with a map showing the routes you can take along the "conches" or "étiers" (canals). Don't worry, there's no danger and no rapids - it's a quiet ride !

In spring and autumn, the lower-angled light is very beautiful over the Marais, revealing enchanting vistas of vegetation, eddies on the shore and the surface of the water. At the height of summer, the Marais is a haven of coolness. Contrary to popular belief, there are no mosquitoes, as the boatmen will tell you, thanks to the presence of natural predators in water that seems stagnant but is in fact always moving. Frogs protect your skin, as do dragonflies, which love mosquitoes. The fauna and flora of the Marais Poitevins in the Vendée are jewels to behold, where the calm, silence and tranquillity are ideal for birdwatching. Keep your eyes wide open !

Do you like water? And if you read our article on leisure bases and places to swim in Vendée, outside the ocean!!

Maillezais marsh boat
Go with a boatman guide or independently on the marsh

Saint-Sigismond where the canals are wide

The Dry Marsh and the Wet Marsh

There are 2 types of landscape and environment in the Marais Poitevin: dried marsh and wet marsh. The dried-out marshes exist because the wet marshes absorb excess water, keeping some of the land always dry! They are also called Polders, or Mattes, depending on the region. The wet marshes are the best known, offering a unique escape in the heart of Green Venice. A unique site in the world, the Marais Poitevin is a veritable labyrinth of canals lined with rows of trees that have been developed over time. In winter, these furrows have the advantage of absorbing excess water in the event of heavy rain, to prevent flooding as far as possible. The Marais Poitevin is rich in history, as in the past, market gardeners made their living mainly from farming and cattle rearing, whose produce was sold on the market. Cabbage, lettuce, carrots, leeks and onions were neighbours to dairy and beef cows. These crops depended on flooding, but the nutrient-rich water also provided a valuable source of fertiliser for the soil

Mallezais wet marsh
The Wet Marsh is the most suitable for the observation of fauna and flora

Where to go boating in Vendée?

There are many options for discovering the Marais Poitevin in the south of the département. In the south-east, this is where you'll find the most characteristic landscapes, with the protective and exuberant green tunnels! Take a look at the Marais Poitevin tourist map, with the list of landing stages represented by pictograms. Here is a non-exhaustive list of places to go boating. Note that you can hire a boat or get on one with a guide, but you can also go canoeing (which is more agile than boats for getting around cramped canals). Some piers also hire out Stand Up Paddles, a fun way to discover the marshes from a different perspective (as you are standing up).

Some piers have been awarded the Tourism and Disability label, which means that they are easy to get to. This is also something to bear in mind for families with young children.

Boat trips are the perfect way to discover the local wildlife, including herons, swans, sometimes deer, frogs, water lilies, coypu, dragonflies, otters, the European mink and a whole host of amphibians and reptiles... See the page on the Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park: 70 Bird Species in the Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park.

We invite you to read our article to discover the Most Beautiful Villages of Vendée!


Pier of Mareuil-sur-Lay-Dissais

Mazeau pier
The Mazeau

Mazeau pier

... As for the vegetation, you'll see plenty of poplars, water lilies, duckweed and the famous pollarded ash! There's plenty to see!

The Marais Breton Vendéen is also a 100% nature destination, where respect for flora and fauna is very important. Stretching over two departments, Vendée and Loire-Atlantique, 90% of the Marais Breton Vendéen is made up of meadows, salt marshes, soft marshes, reed beds, polders, canals and villages. Naturally alive, the Marais Breton Vendéen offers a unique experience through immense landscapes of great beauty. You can explore them on foot along the footpaths, but also by bike or on horseback along the signposted itineraries. Birds love these wide-open spaces, and in spring they are busy nesting. In autumn, geese, white egrets and avocets take up residence in the Baie de Bourgneuf, where you can watch them. In Sallertaine, Le Perrier, Notre-Dame-de-Monts, La Barre-de-Monts or Machecoul, visit the Vendée and take the opportunity to stop off at a landing stage for a trip in a traditional "yole" boat or canoe. Alone or accompanied, you'll love plunging into the heart of unspoilt nature. In Sallertaine, we can't recommend booking a guided canoe trip on the Route du Sel for a fun and unusual day out.


The Marais near Sallertaine, in the Marais Breton Vendée, the Marô

We wish you a great holiday on the canals of the Marais de la Vendée!

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