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Marais Poitevin
Marais Poitevin general map
The Marais poitevin is the largest of the three area of Marais (marshlands) in the Vendee. It is what is left of the Gulf of Pictons before it was drained by the Benidictine monks. In Roman times  some 10 rivers drained into the gulf ,but today it is just the Sevre Noirtais, the Cure and the Lay rivers that now exit into the atlantic.
Three Depatments, The Vendee, Deux Sevres and Charente-Maritime all have areas of the Marais Poitevin which is the second largest marshland in France covering approximatly 0.5% of the land mass of France.
The marshland which can be divided into three parts, the Wet marshes(Green Venice or Venice Vert), the Dry marshes and the salt marshes has over 200km of canals
Marais poitevin in roman times
Gulf of Picton in Roman times
Marais poitevin in the middle ages
Map of the Marais Poitevin today
The Marais in the 13th Century
The monks from their abbey at Maillezais which was built in 1005 on the site of a ruined chapel were responsible for all the early drainage work and they had great skill as is evident by the aquaduct that was built between 1654 and 1662 on the completion  of drainage work on the marshes around Vix
Today the Anse de L,Aiguillon which once merited the name gulf consists of 5000ha of mudflats, a stopping off point for migratory birds and now a National Nature Reserve
There are three distinct regions within the marais, the upper reaches of the Sevre Niortais and Vendee rivers more commonly refered to as the Venice Vert or Green Venice where tourism along with farming in small fields with tree lined canels. A very attractive part of the marais.
The Middle section, the largest area mainly devoid  of trees where agriculture is in control, though within this area there are several nature reserves and areas of common land which belong to the communes and can be freely grazed. These areas measure between 100ha and 300ha and in total there are some 2000ha of grazing land.
The final section is that beyond the drainage control zone, a land of salt marshes and mudflats, washed at high tide by the sea and gradually silting up.

The Marais Poitevin is on of the richest natural habitats in France. There has recorded over 250 species of birds of which 130 nest in the marshes, 44 species of mammals, 23 species of amphibians and reptiles, 322 species of fish and over 700 species of wild flora. It attracts naturalists from all over the world.
The following lists some of the more interesting sites and features of the Marais Poitevin
The Green Venice
Maillezais
The salt Marshes
Le Port de Courdault
The Aquaduct of Maille
The Hydaulic Node at Bazoin
The Barrage at Boisse
The Canal Ceinture des Hollandais
Le bois de Loyaute
Les Portes a la Mer (tide gates)
The commons
Le Puits et le Lavoir de Fontaines
Le Bateau a Chaine
Le Lavoir du port d'Azire
Les anciens Marais Salants
L'ancient port de Lucon
L'Ile de la Dive
Les Polders autour de Triaize
L'Ecuse de la Pionte aux Herbes
Le Pont du Brault
La Pointe de L'Aiguillon

Les Mizottes (salt Marshes)
The Marais Poitevin today.
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Images of Marais Poitevin
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Marais poitevin by Tate