The Gardens of the Brèche, formerly Place of the Breach, are one of the lungs of downtown Niort. This esplanade is today one of the largest places in the West of France. De fairground to car park, from parking to gardens, it took a few years before the Gardens of the Brèche transform in a central public space in the heart of the city of Niort.

The history of Place de la Brèche

Philip Wall
city ​​center-place-breche-niort-marais-poitevin

Fairground, initially

In the 18th century, the Place of the Breach became the nerve center of commerce in the region and hosted until the 20th century major agricultural and industrial fairs. Indeed, during these years, the mechanization of agricultural tools is modernizing, we find threshing machines, mowers, sorters and presses at the fairs. 44 editions will take place on Place de la Brèche until the municipality decides to move the latter on a larger and more suitable site to respond to the increase in exhibitors but also for the arrival of visitors with easier access and parking.

Did you know?

The origin of the appellation place of "the breach" would of a breach which would have been opened in the fortified enclosure of the city at the time for the extension of the royal fairs.

Parking, secondly

It's in 1974, after the exhibition fair was moved that this place will become a parking lot. It could accommodate around 1 cars which was an advantage for a city to have a device of such a large capacity. It was a parking lot for 32 years because In 2006, a new face would emerge for this central location.


Becoming Les Jardins de la Brèche today


And green followed tar… Revitalize the Niort city center, that was the initial idea and the challenge was successful! Today it is one of the largest squares in the West of France. After several years of work, the square is transformed into a garden with its 4 hectares of green spaces. City Niort, environmentally conscious, set up a irrigation system of these gardens by rainwater recovered on site.

The Breach is divided into 2 parts. At the top you will find a cinema complex with the Mega CGR. At the bottom of the Breche, it is the pedestrian esplanade. Lined with cafe and restaurant terraces, you will then have a wide choice for satisfy your taste buds! It is also access to main streets leading inside the city center in let's go to of Halles de Niort and Donjon.


In the middle, find the Brèche Gardens, become a place of relaxation par excellence. We can come and stroll in the different thematic gardens: the garden of scents; the garden of the four seasons and the garden of insects and birds, a refuge of biodiversity. You can also come to play petanque ou have fun at water games on the 500m² esplanade dedicated exclusively to this with slides, turnstiles, basketball hoops etc.


It is also a place of meeting and sharing. You will find many picnic tables, in the sun or in the shade. It's the favorite place for walks and meeting places for families and young people.

It is also a place of cultural meeting important. Throughout the year, there are numerous strolls, shows, concerts and fairs in all genres. A meeting place for all generations!


The facilities of the Jardins de la Brèche:

  • Several playgrounds
  • An underground car park with a capacity of 530 spaces
  • A cinema
  • Drinking water points
  • Thematic gardens
  • Picnic tables

Meeting the Ladies of the Breach


At the top of the Brèche, meet the “Ladies of the Breach”, work of the visual artist Franck Ayroles.

This urban sculpture represents 2 multicultural women two meters and twenty tall sitting on a bench. This work is highly symbolic since it evokes exchange, communication between peoples, communities, tolerance symbolized by two women of different colors conversing. They unite the two northern and southern hemispheres.

“This sculpture has considerable importance in my artistic life because it sums up what I have stood for through my work for over 25 years”

Franck Ayroles

These ladies invite the passerby to sit with them, for a break, a discussion or a photo. Its ladies are an original landmark at the top of the Brèche gardens. Since its installation and thanks to Social Media, the photos of “Ladies of the Breach” travel all over the world and makes the city of Niort.

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