Welcome to the destination Niort – Marais Poitevin, mysterious land where mingles famous people et legendary beings. Over time, many people have participated in the creation of this territory with a Story and cultural heritage. exceptional. Let yourself be carried away by their stories…

Legendary beings

GO69 – Wikimedia


Melusine, Celtic deity with serpentine shapes, means “wonder” or “sea fog”. Builder Fairy, she works by moonlight until the rooster crows. If a curious person surprises her, she stops her work. This way, for example, the last stone of the spire is missing. Notre-Dame church of Niort.

The legend of the Soldier and the Dragon of Niort

He is described as a huge amphibious winged snake raging as well in the Swamp close and the Sèvre Niortaise than on dry land. Legend has it that he was killed by Jacques Allonneau, a deserting soldier, who was promised pardon if he managed to destroy the monster who was desolating the entire country. This courageous soldier managed to mortally wound the Serpe by forcing him his sword in his throat. Believing the beast dead, he removed the glass helmet that protected him from the venom, which led to his downfall, because the dragon poisoned him in a last breath. So they perished together. The legend echoes the dragonnades, name given to the persecutions directed in the 17th century, under Louis XIV, against Protestant communities. Indeed, it was the Dragons, the king's army corps, who were responsible for converting the Huguenots by force.

In 1992, this local legend is illustrated by the installation of four bronze dragons on rue Amable Ricard. In 2011, they were unbolted to allow work to pedestrianize the street. In order to materialize the entrances to the city center, two heads were transferred in 2012 to the top of rue Ricard and the other two to rue du Temple.

Lighthouse Imagery
dragon-city center-niort-marais-poitevin
Gustave Doré – National Library of France – Wikipedia

The legend of Gargantua or the birth of the Marais Poitevin

It happened that Gargantua, coming from La Rochelle, and heading towards Niort, following a prolonged drinking binge, was forced to stop to evacuate the excess of his libations. Setting foot on the cathedral of Luzon in Vendée, the other on the bell tower of the church of Niort, and turning towards the west, he made the liberating gesture which, while relieving him, flooded a country which he thus watered all the way to the sea. This is how the Marais Poitevin was designed!

Famous people

Eleanor of Aquitaine (Nieul-s.-l'Autise, 1122-Fontevraud, 1204), 1st great politician

She's there granddaughter of William IX the Troubadour, 1st French lyric poet; daughter of Duke William, says the Toulouse man, and Aénor de Châtellerault. At 15, she is heir to more than 2/3 of the kingdom of France, an immense domain running from the Loire to the Pyrenees and from the Ocean to the Auvergne! Wife of the king of France, then of England, she is the mother of 10 children and dies at the canonical age of 82! In 1203, it confirms the charter of free commune of Niort, granted in 1199 by his son John Lackland. Thus, the city became one of the first communes in France, a small medieval republic administered by a mayor.

Frederick Sandys – National Museum Cardiff – Wikipedia
ElanorGamgee – Wikipedia

Richard the Lionheart (1157, Oxford-1199, Fontevraud), the knight king

Son of Henry II Plantagenet, king of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitou. According to the black legend of his mother, he would be born from a relationship with the Devil. He grows up to Poitiers, writes poetry and composes music. In 1170, at the castle of Niort, Eleanor presents her favorite son, Duke of Aquitaine at the age of 13, to the Poitevin barons who swear allegiance to him. When his father died, he becomes king of England in 1189. The following year, Richard was at Parthenay before leading in his wake the great vassals, except Hugues 1st Larchevesque, towards a new crusade in the Holy Land. Returning from the East, he would have imported a defensive technique of vertical shooting, the machicolation bow, which he used for the first time in Western Europe in dungeon of Niort. In 1199, wishing to monopolize the treasure of Châlus (Limousin) to improve the Château-Gaillard and increase his number of mercenaries, the knight king mounted an attack on the fortress of Count Aymar of Limoges without first putting on his headdress. hood and lace up his chainmail. Wounded by an arrow in the shoulder, he died in Fontevraud whose recumbent figure is still visible today.

Madame de Maintenon (Niort, 1635-Saint-Cyr, 1719), almost queen of France!

Françoise d'Aubigné was born in housing in the former prison of Niort (5 rue du Pont) where his father was locked up. She lives her childhood of poverty in Mursay, near Niort. Following the death of her husband, the poet Paul Scarron, she became the governess of Louis XIV's bastards. The king offers him the marquisate of Maintenon and married her at night in 1683. She founded the Saint-Cyr institution instructing the poor young girls of the provincial nobility.

Pierre Mignard – Wikipedia
Centro Virtual Cerventes – Wikipedia

Jacques de Liniers (Niort, 1753-Cabeza de Tigre, 1810), Niort adventurer and Argentinian hero

Page at 12 years of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, then officer in the French cavalry, before serving in the famous Spanish armada, Jacques de Liniers became a senior officer in 7 years by boldly seizing several British ships. But, it is Buenos Aires that he meets glory with two victories resounding attacks against English troops seeking Spanish-American possessions. His military qualities like his charisma and his human qualities make him the idol and viceroy of an immense and rich country, the Rio de la Plata comprising the territories which today belong to the Argentina,Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and Brazil.

But, remained loyal to the King of Spain, he was shot by Argentine separatists on August 26, 1810. His ashes have rested since 1862, near Columbus at the Pantheon of the Navy, in Cádiz, where a monument was erected by the Argentines and on which is inscribed “Last hero of the ancient homeland”, first martyr of the new homeland. HAS Niort, his bust has been enthroned since 1910 at the corner of Alsace-Lorraine and Bernard d'Agesci.

Augustin Bernard alias Bernard d'Agesci (Niort, 1756-Niort, 1829), 1st curator of the Niort museum

Ce designer, painter et sculptor, grand prix of Rome, comes from an old nationally renowned Niort family. At the age of 23, he entered the Paris Academy where he befriends David. During his seven-year stay in Italy, he is the resident of the Villa Medici in Rome and the Bologna school of painting. Then he returns to Paris. But revolutionary unrest forced him to return to Niort where he is in charge of the management of the municipal library. In 1792, he founded the departmental revolutionary museum (which today bears his surname) and a free drawing school in 1804. He added d'Agesci to his name to Italianize it and had the Tuscan-inspired Villa Rose built in Niort, rue Alsace-Lorraine.

Bernard d'Agesci – AMOPA – Wikipedia
Niort Wiki

Pierre-Théophile Segrétain (Niort, 1798-Niort, 1864), 1st architect of the Deux-Sèvres Historical Monuments

He's departmental architect of Deux-Sèvres at 26, then 1st architect of Historical Monuments of the department and finally diocesan architect. His friend, Prosper Merimee, 2nd general inspector of Historic Monuments, has a poor opinion of Niort, because, in his report written in 1840, he said: My dear President, where shall I begin my lamentations of Jeremiah? and the same year, from Bordeaux, to a friend: Niort, this ugly hole... But the prolix Segrétain brushes aside these criticisms by signing the prefecture, the prison, the court, St-André churches et St-Hilaire… Likewise, he constructs or restored thirty churches, castles, public and private buildings, aqueducts and bridges in Deux-Sèvres. Exhausted, he died at his work table, struck by a devastating apoplexy!

The teacher Ernest Pérochon (Courlay, 1885-Niort, 1942), Goncourt Prize 1920

In 1920, this rural teacher receives the Goncourt prize for his novel Nêne. Ernest Pérochon then decided to leave teaching and settle permanently in Niort (25 avenue de Limoges) and produced 25 novelsIncluding 7 books reading for children, translated into ten languages ​​including Serbian and Japanese ! His name was even given to Niort Center for Contemporary Photographic Art “Villa Pérochon”.

Léon Salvan – Bernard d’Agesci Museum
Maixentais – Wikipedia

Edmond Proust (Chenay, 1894-Niort, 1956), father of Niort mutualism

His predestined name comes from valor. Rural teacher by profession, denominational Protestant and a convinced Freemason, in 1934, with Jean Lauroua, he founded MAIF, the first historic mutual insurance company in Niort, whose motto is "One for all! All for one". In 1940, captain in the 32nd RI, he was made prisoner and interned at Nuremberg. Released in 41, he joined the resistance and in 43 became the departmental head of the Secret Army. Clandestine, he takes the pseudonym Colonel Chaumette, commands the Free French Forces and liberated Niort on September 5, 1944. In 1947, he created CAMIF which was the third mail order company.

Henri-Georges Clouzot (Niort, 1907-Paris, 1977), the French Hitchcock

Coming from a family of booksellers, printers and publishers based in Niort since 1834, this screenwriter and director of noir films is the author of masterpieces as "Headquarters" or “The wages of fear” winning the 3 supreme awards from European festivals (the Granx Prix de Cannes – former name of the Palme d'Or, the Golden Lion in Venice and the Golden Bear in Berlin). In 1954, he filmed “Les Diaboliques”, a detective film starring Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot, his wife of Brazilian origin. Ambient views of Niort, shot by the filmmaker's general manager, were used transparently in certain scenes. In 2017, the Cinémathèque française pays a national tribute to the country's child on the occasion of the Cannes Film Festival and the Lyon Lumière Festival ; it is also in the spotlight in Niortais, particularly during the Regards Noirs festival of 2017 and 2018. In this context, a commemorative plaque was placed on November 20, 2017 – the day of his birth – on his birthplace at 22 rue Victor Hugo where he spent his first fifteen years.

Richard Texier – Wikipedia

The painter-sculptor Richard Texier (Niort, 1955-), brewer of the material of the world

Richard Texier is a contemporary artist born to Niort in 1955. He is recognized for his abstract style and his way of merging painting and sculpture. His works are exhibited in galleries and museums in France and abroad, and he has also completed several public commissions, including a monumental sculpture of 5 canvases for the city of La Rochelle. Richard Texier is very attached to his hometown and has collaborated with the Bernard d'Agesci museum of Niort for a retrospective exhibition in 2017. Visitors were able to discover more than 60 works by the artist, some of which date from his beginnings in the 80s. His contribution to the contemporary art scene and his attachment to Niort make Richard Texier an important figure of the city and its culture.

Mathias Enard (Niort, 1972-), Goncourt Prize 2015

Specialist in Arabic and Persian cultures and languages, doctor at the CNRS and translator, he is the author of several award-winning novels: “The Perfection of Shooting” (2003), “Remounting the Orinoco” (2005, adapted for the cinema in 2012 under the title “A Coeur Ouvert” with Juliette Binoche and Edgar Ramirez) , “Zone” (2008) characterized by a single sentence of 500 pages and which brings it to light, “Tell them about battles, kings and elephants” (2010), “Rue des Voleurs” (2012) . In 2015, it was brought to the firmament with the Goncourt prize for Compass, an encyclopedia on oriental culture in the form of a romance novel according to Bernard Pivot. In 2020, he released the novel “The Annual Banquet of the Brotherhood of Gravediggers”, the history of France through the destiny of Niort and Marais Poitevin, a thesis on country life in the 21st century.

Selbymay – Wikipedia

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