“Venise Verte ?” Surely that just means “Green Venice” doesn’t it ? Yes, it does.

The Venise Verte in question is more properly named the Marais Poitevin, or just the “Poitevin Marsh” if you’re a stickler for translating it into English.

It’s an area of marsh lying in between Niort, La Rochelle and Fontenay-le-Comte which is now heavily farmed, but towards the Niort end there’s a little bit that is essentially still full of little canals which are used primarily for tourism. This is the part known as the Venise Verte.

I’m not sure where we read about this area, possibly in our Lonely Planet guide to France, but it looked like somewhere that might keep us busy for a day, so off we went. The weather was fiercely hot (again).

Our first stop was the village of Coulon, which sits nicely on a bit of canal that is quite broad and open (by local standards) and which houses a load of very photogenic little boats, which presumably can be hired out if you’re that way inclined. We weren’t.

We walked around here and took a few photos, which kept us busy until lunchtime. I seem to remember we sat in quite a nice restaurant here to grab some lunch, and that during a part of that I held a fairly creditable conversation in French with one of the other patrons. A lot of the discussion was about where we’d come from, and a lot more of it was about Ami, who was doing her best to be cute and not at all irritating to other customers.

After lunch we took a bit more of a walk in the area of Coulon, which involved walking over a couple of fields, sitting down for a bit (because it was hot) and spotting some cows.

Venise_Verte_20 Coulon Canal.jpg Venise_Verte_19 Coulon Canal Bridge.jpg Venise_Verte_18 Coulon Canal Bridge.jpg Venise_Verte_17 Coulon Canal House & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_16 Coulon Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_15 Coulon Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_14 Coulon Canal Houses & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_13 Coulon Canal Houses & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_12 Coulon Canal Houses & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_11 Coulon Canal Boat.jpg Venise_Verte_10 Coulon Ami on the Grass.jpg Venise_Verte_09 Coulon Canal Boat.jpg Venise_Verte_08 Coulon Cows in a Field.jpg Venise_Verte_07 Coulon Cows in a Field.jpg Venise_Verte_06 Coulon House & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_05 Coulon Canal & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_04 Coulon Canal & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_03 Coulon Canal & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_02 Coulon Canal & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_01 Coulon Canal & Boats.jpg

From here we moved over to the village of Arçais, which is in the “proper” hard of the wet bit of the marsh. Arçais has a number of little piers where you can rent a small boat or punt for a few hours and go for a wander around the canals. We decided to give it a go here and were rewarded with a pleasant couple of hours punting around a series of small and confusing canals, not really going anywhere but enjoying the fact that the canals all had overhanging trees and so were mainly in the shade. Lush !

Once we’d finished in there we needed to let Ami run around a bit, so we disembarked from our boat and she had a run around on a open paved area near a tourist information centre in the middle of town, which was also close to some old small-scale dock loading machinery.

It turned out to be an excellent if rather hot day.

Venise_Verte_22 Arcais Quay.jpg Venise_Verte_23 Arcais Lavender.jpg Venise_Verte_24 Arcais Quay.jpg Venise_Verte_25 Arcais Street.jpg Venise_Verte_26 Arcais Canal & Boats.jpg Venise_Verte_27 Arcais Crane.jpg Venise_Verte_28 Arcais Crane.jpg Venise_Verte_29 Arcais Crane.jpg Venise_Verte_30 Arcais Crane.jpg Venise_Verte_31 Arcais Crane.jpg Venise_Verte_32 Arcais Kas on a Wall.jpg

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