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Cycle Route 4 - Mauzé/Epannes/La Rochénard

Cycle through the Green Venice!




Nature (faune, flore)

If you like long bike rides but also like history, this tour is for you! Discover a series of villages typical of the Marais Poitevin, and immerse yourself in their history, heritage and all the riches they have to offer, thanks to the explanations provided on our map.

Safety instructions - Wearing a helmet is highly recommended. I ride on the right. I respect the rules of the road. I check the condition of my bike (brakes and lighting). Stay on the marked paths. I respect the marsh, a sensitive and classified site.

Cycle Route 4 - Mauzé/Epannes/La Rochénard

Distance : 36.5 km

Step 1: MAUZE-S.-LE-MIGNON : la patrie de l'explorateur René Caillié

At the crossroads of the Poitou and Aunis regions, Mauzé takes its name from "Mauseacum", meaning "in the middle of the waters". Built on the banks of the river Mignon, the town grew up around the seigniorial castle and near a tollgate. In the 17th century, it was the scene of the Dragonnades, with Protestant Jean Migault taking refuge in the Breuil-Barrabin district of the town. The wine and brandy trade gave the town a major economic boost in the 18th century. After the phylloxera crisis, flour millers and dairy farmers gradually replaced coopers and wheelwrights. Mauzé is also the birthplace of the adventurer René Caillié, whom it honours every year.

Step 2: USSEAU : berceau de la grand-mère de l'Europ

Usseau derives from "Ussena" meaning a hillock planted with vines. The commune is made up of 5 hamlets known locally as "écarts". Situated at the crossroads of an ancient Roman road leading from Saintes to Nantes, the village recounts 2000 years of local history at the Pierre-Henri Mitard cultural centre. Remains of several ancient sites have been revealed. Usseau is also the birthplace of Eléonore Desmier, who was born in Olbreuse in 1639 and married the Duke of Brunswick-Lunebourg-Zell, Elector of Hanover. Through a series of marriages, her descendants can be found in 17 European dynasties, hence her nickname of "grandmother of Europe". Every two years, a summer pageant is held in the courtyard of her castle to honour her memory. In 2019, Usseau will join forces with Priaires and Thorigny-s.-le-Mignon to form the new commune of Val-du-Mignon and become its administrative centre.

Step 3: LA ROCHENARD et son château d'eau observatoire

The village's name certainly dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries, when people settled on the heights for defensive purposes. Its founder was called Enard. At the heart of a limestone plain, the village is grouped around its water tower, now a tourist observatory. Its main prosperous activity was wine-growing. In 1881, phylloxera forced winegrowers to switch to livestock farming, followed by mixed farming. After the Second World War, La Rochénard was one of the first towns to be electrified, to set up a mobile launderette and to found a retirement home for workers. In the 1950s, two farms in the valley began growing lavender, whose essential oils were produced in a mobile still and delivered to a perfumer in the south of France.

Step 4: VALLANS 100 % nature

On the edge of the Marais Poitevin, the commune nestles in the Courance valley. The seigneury was first mentioned in 1093. During the siege of Frontenay in 1242, Louis IX slept in the local priory. An altar is dedicated to him in the church where he is said to have come to pray, and the main street in the village is named "rue St-Louis" in memory of this royal visit. In 2018, the commune was awarded the "Territoire bio engagé" (Committed Organic Territory) label for having achieved 29.45 % of its usable agricultural area in organic farming. Located on the GR 36, the commune offers three walking trails and is preparing a discovery trail of the village. Similarly, the Départementale 1, which runs through the village, is very popular with regional cyclo-tourists.


The oldest names for Epannes suggest that Spaniards were involved in its foundation. Perhaps they were Iberian legionnaires at the time of the Roman conquest of Gaul, for whom the village would have been an ancient military station? On his return from a crusade led by Saint Louis, Robert de Béchillon was made a knight and given the fiefdom of Epannes as a reward for his bravery. Subsequently, several families succeeded each other at the head of the seigneury. In 1853, Louis-Jules de Cugnac bought the château, which had been rebuilt in the 18th century. Nestling in the Courance valley, the church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine watches over its flock.

Step 6: LE BOURDET et son Sentier de la Maraîchine

Until the French Revolution, the parish belonged to the general government of La Rochelle, the election of St-Jean-d'Angély and the seigneury of Frontenay. In 1419, Jean de Rochechouart shared the fiefdom of Bourdet, which reverted to Aimery Acarie in 1496. In 1647, Catherine Acarie married Charles de Cugnac. Louis-Philippe de Cugnac emigrated in 1791. Most of his property was sold, except for the château and some land, which he recovered, and he died at Surimeau in 1809. His estate was then divided up and bought back. Seven mills were in full operation at Le Bourdet in the early 19th century. In 1856, there were 643 Bourdet residents, compared with 322 in 1982 due to the disappearance of farms. Lined up along a main street and crossed by two millstreams and the Courance river, the village has kept alive this farming tradition.

Step 7: PRIN-DEYRANCON ou la Guerre des boutons

In 1402, Dey-Rançon was the largest commune in the département. After the French Revolution, the two main villages were united to form Deyrançon. However, throughout the 19th century, a strong rivalry developed between the inhabitants of the peaty marshland and the wine-growing plain. The town hall became ungovernable, and Petit-Breuil became the main town in 1856. To put an end to the quarrels, the Prinois demanded the construction of a town hall and school in Dey the following year. In 1903, Deyrançon was divided into Prin-Deyrançon and Le Petit Breuil-Deyrançon. In 1971, the plan to join Le Petit Breuil to Mauzé-s-le-Mignon was put into practice. This peaceful village, with its 12 km of waterways, has a lovely countryside feel and is an ideal place for long walks.

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