Tourist Information, Vendee History, Accommodation, Photos, Reviews, Maps,
Breton,now officially called the Marais-Breton-Vendéen, is an area of
marshland which covers some 45,000 hectares, and is probably the least
known yet best preserved wetland in France. It bridges the Departments
of the Vendée and the Loire-Atlantique, and runs from Moutiers-en-Retz
to St.Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on the coast and Machecoul to Challans inland.
The Marais Breton is part of the ancient Bay of Brittany which was once speckled with islands, however today the Ile de Noirmoutier is the only remaining island. Bouin, Beauvoir and Sallertaine
were at one time islands but due to sedimentary deposits by the coastal
currents from the Loire and the Charente and the many smaller rivers
that flow in the Atlantic, they have now become a part of the mainland.
The first drainage ditches in the marshes were dug by the Romans as
early as the 1st century and these were expanded upon by the Benedictine
monks from the X1 to X111 centuries. In the Middle-Ages
the Marais Breton was known for (its) the production of salt and from
the 15th to 18th century up to 30,000 tons per year were produced, with
the trade being centred on Bouin
and Bourgneuf. Production gradually decreased as the bay silted up and
eventually died out with the trade moving to the Mediterranean.
Recently the area has seen a resurgence in the production of salt,
predominantly on the Ile-Noirmoutier, this is due on the one hand to the tourist interest, but and on the other due to the quality of the salt produced.
As a result of building the digues (dikes) along the coast and the
Étiers, the canals that control and allow sea water to enter the marshes
oyster farming is now prolific and has become a major contributor to
the local economy. Oyster farming occurs all along the coast but is
particularly concentrated in the area between the recently modernised
port of Les Bouchets and the picturesque Port du Bec
(Chinese port). At many of the oyster farms one may taste and buy the
oysters and at the ports there are shops and markets that supply not
only oysters but other marine delicacies, regional products and the
obligatory souvenirs. Offshore Mussel farms in the Baie du Bourgneuf and
fishing, especially for crab and lobster, are also important local
Marais Breton has one of the best preserved ecological systems in France
attracting a plethora of migratory birds and is also home to a variety
of rare and varied Flora and Fauna. It is without doubt a nature lovers
paradise, and is a place where even in the peak of the holiday season
one can find solitude and tranquillity.
Throughout the Marais-Breton-Vendéen there are well signposted and
excellently maintained routes for cycling and walking and are the best
way to discover and enjoy this natural environment which is as
incredible as it is beautiful. Along the way signs and information posts
direct one to the different places of interest and give information on
the nature of the particular area. A list of the various walks and cycle
paths can be obtained from the local tourist office along with
information on the length of the route, the estimated time it will take
to complete it and the important points of interest along the way. A
word of caution though, go prepared, the marshland is exposed and there
are few places to get refreshment, so taking plenty of water and
protection from the sun is essential as the temperatures can be really
fierce during the summer. The Guide would also recommend that one
carries a repair kit for your bicycle and a mobile phone in case of
emergencies. For those who are less mobile or who have less time, it is
possible to explore the marshes by car or motor bike.
are many routes that will take you through almost deserted countryside
and enable you discover those marshland villages and ports, take in the
oyster farms along the coast and see the natural beauty of the
The inhabitants of the marshes (maraichian) have over the years
struggled against adversity. As well as having the elements to wrestle
with along with the harsh environment, the maraichan have been involved
in many conflicts. After the Romans left the area was fought over by
many opposing factions including the Vikings and the Normans. This was
followed by the 100 years wars with the English, the war of Religions
and then finally the uprisings of the Wars of the Vendée.
Eco Musee Daviaud.
This popular museum is dedicated to the History, workings and life of
the Marais-Breton-Vendéen and should be on anyone’s list of must see
attractions if they have any interest in this unique region.
This water tower in the middle of the Marais-Breton-Vendéen has an
exhibition on the cycle of water and its importance, it is possible to
go to the top of the tower where one can get a panoramic view of the
Marais, the Island of Noirmoutier, the Baie de Bourgneuf and in the far
distance and on a clear day the Ile d'Yeu.
Bike Hire Marais Breton;
La Barre de Monts: La Barre a Roues, 161, Ave Estacade. Tel.02 51 39 22 50.
Beauvoir-sur-Mer: Marais Prom'nade, La Canardiere. Tel. 06 14 01 67 78.
Notre-Dame-de-Monts. CyclLove Evasion. Tel. 02 51 58 43 86.
St.Jean-de-Monts: Barreau. 6,Ave Foret. Tel. 09 63 54 61 49.
Cycl'love. 11,Ave Demoiselles Tel.02 51 59 04 31.
Le Cycl'hop. 6,Ave Foret. Tel. 02 51 58 04 81.
Maheau Philippe. 9, Ave Gen. De Gauille. Tel. 02 51 58 27 83.
Bloobike Tel.06 22 60 53 21.
Canoeing Marais Breton;
Sallertaine. 49 rue de Verdun.
P.I.N.T.A. La Route du Sel
Tel 02 51 93 03 40
Next to the bridge and also a
shop in the village.
Challans P.I.N.T.A. 21, rue Gambetta. Tel. 02 51 49 22 17.
Bois-de-Cene. P.I.N.T.A. La Cour Tel 02 51 49 22 17.
Le Perrier. Promenade en Yoles 06 86 06 01 52
Towns & Villages in the Marais Breton
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