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River Vendée

Sud Vendee.. Haut Bocage.. Coastal Region.. Marais Poitevin.. Marais Breton.. Bas Bocage.. Plaine.. Marais Olonne..

The River Vendée which gave its name to the Department has its source at St Paul Gâtines, in the Deux Sévre Department 14 kilometers east of La-Chataigneraie, It enters the Department of the Vendee near La Chapelle-aux-Lys and then heads southwards in a slow and meandering fashion through the rolling Bocage countryside picking up small tributaries along the way. The river  passes through the village of St.Hilaire-de-Voust then skirts around Marillet, la Verrerie and Faymoreau before turning west towards the Mervent Forest.
The Barrage d'Albert forms a lake at Chassenon le Bourg where there is a swimming area and where boats can be hired. The river at this point turns and heads north through the forest to be joined by the River Mere at Mervent.

The River Mere starts its life at La Popiniere Papin 5kms north of La Chataigneraie flowing east around the town then through Antigny on its way to Vouvant. The Barrages at Vouvant and then lower downstream at Pierre Brune along with the barrage de Mervent turn this small slow moving river into wide and tree lined lakes thereby completely changing its character. This is possibly the most interesting and picturesque stretch of the river. The steep sided  forested valleys that the river flows through are a haven for nature with a wide range of flora and fauna which includes the rare short toed Eagle, it is of course an ideal playground for man with fishing, boating, walking, cycling, climbing or any other pursuit that you care to do. It is near to the barrage at Mervent that it joins the Vendée river to continue its journey out of the Bocage and onto the plaine having first flowed through Fontenay-le-Comte.

It was at Fontenay-le-Comte that the river became navigable and the town remained as a working port well into the 20th century. The River is not tidal at this point and navigation was only made possible by locks at its confluence with the River Sévre Niortaise at l'Ile d'Elle and at Boisse where the Barrage de Boisse controlled the water levels and a loop with locks using the small river Longeves made it possible to bypass the barrage.
Below Boisse the river skirts the chalk cliffs that separate the Plaine from the Marais and it is still possible to see the remains of the small ports of Chaix, Velluire and le Gue de Velluire. It is at Velluire that the river finally leaves the Plaine behind as it enters the Marais poitevin and the slow meandering river straightens and fulfils it's major roll, that of draining the marshlands and irrigating the productive polders that were created by the Benedictine Monks many centuries before. The final stretch of its journey is around the ancient island of l'Ile d'Elle, again there was a small port here in the past, but of more importance and interest is the last 300 meters or so of its journey before joining the River Sévre Niortaise. A set of lock gates (now abandoned and in ruins) controlled the entrance, a modern barrage now controls the water levels here making the river un-navigable, but equally important and interesting is the  aqueduct that takes the Canal des Boches under the river Vendée. Though not well signposted it is well worth seeking out these interesting engineering works as in a very small area you have most of the elements that made the draining and use of these marshes possible.

Attractions along the River Vendée:

Mervent Forest
Pierre Brune Fun Park
The Parc d'acrobaties, Mervent
Naturzoo mervent

Boating on the River Vendée

Base Nautique Mervent. Mervent Forest.
2 rue du Port de la Fouarne   Tel.

Camping along the River Vendée.

Chene Tord,34 Chemin du Chene Tord, Mervent. Tel. 02 51 00 20 63.
Camping La Jamoniere. 129,rue de la Bironniere, Mervent. Tel 02 51 00 26 29.
Camping La Joletiere, La Joletiere, Mervent Tel. 02 5100 26 87.
Le Petit Booth, 79 Rue National, l'Ile d'Elle. Tel.02 51 52 00 67.

Restaurants along the River Vendée.

Le Pic Vert,  Vouvant. Tel.02 51 00 88 49.
Auberg de Maitre Pannetier, Vouvant. Tel 02 51 00 80 12.
Au Fil de l'Eau. 116 route Touristique, Mervent Te. 02 51 00 00 04
Ermitage de Pierre Brune, Mervent. Tel. 02 51 00 25 53.
La Joletiere. Mervent. Tel. 02 51 00 21 04.
Restaurants Fontenay see page
Auberge de la Riviere, Velluire. Tel. 02 51 52 32 15.
Auberge du Quaireau, 2, rue Ports Neuf, l'Ile d'Elle. Tel. 02 51 52 01 25
Le Commerce, 11,rue Commerce, L'Ile d'Elle. Tel. 02 51 00 05 28.
Route 66. Lac du Chassenon, St.Michel-le-Clouq. Tel 02 51 00 85 16

Images of the River Vendée

Return to find more Attractions of the Vendée

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River Vendee at Fontenay-le-Comte
The River Vendee at the barrage de Boisse
Photos of the River Vendee