A Boat trip in
the heart of the Green Venice (Venise Verte), starting from
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
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
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,
Pockets of methane are formed from
place to place in the bottom of the water, by the decomposition
"Machin" knows where to find these
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 ?
Finally, the trip ends at the
"Bridge of the Sighs ", so called because the skipper says when
"Ouf! It's finished!".
And the passengers sigh as they
finish the trip, saying:
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
6, rue de l'Eglise
tel. 33 (0)5 49 35 14 14