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Mélusine on the banks of the Sèvre

Follow the Mélusine fairy along the Sèvre Niortaise to discover the rich heritage of this beautiful region!




Culturel, Nature (faune, flore)

Mélusine accompanies you from her château in Coudray-Salbart, along the calm banks of the Sèvre Niortaise, to old hamlets and ancient dwellings with imposing dovecotes.

Have a good walk and remember that you are not alone on the paths you are going to take. We invite you to respect nature: avoid picking flowers and plants, do not leave any rubbish behind, respect inhabited areas, stay on the paths, keep dogs on a leash.

Mélusine on the banks of the Sèvre

Distance : 12.0 km

Step 1: Le village d'Échiré

Échiré (Eschiré in 1218) takes its name from Scauriacum, the Gallo-Roman domain of Scaurius. Numerous remains and Merovingian sarcophagi, now lost, bear witness to this ancient existence. The 19th-century church overlooks the famous old dairy, whose butter is appreciated by all the great European restaurants.

Step 2: Le château de la Taillée

Château de la Taillée and its two 17th-century defensive dovecotes can be reached by a 500 m round trip. Built in 1566 by the de Gascougnolles family, Château de la Taillée is not open to the public. The dovecotes, listed as historic monuments, have a stone roof, small windows at the top and couleuvrine holes at the base for defensive purposes.

Step 3: La Sèvre

The concavity of a meander reveals a viewpoint over the Sèvre valley.

Step 4: Château du Coudray-Salbart

This impressive 13th-century fortified castle, attributed to the legendary fairy Mélusine, was at the heart of the battles between France and England. It prevented the crossing of the Sèvre Niortaise, the southern border of the lords of Parthenay-Larchevêque. A barbican followed by a bailey and a winch drawbridge lead to the castle, which still has six different intact towers (Portal, Bois-Berthier, Double, Saint-Michel, Moulin and Grosse Tour): round or beak-shaped; barrel vaulted, ribbed vaulted or with a cupola pierced by an oculus; monumental fireplaces; vast arch niches; latrines. They are linked by a corridor (a shaft) lit by rare loopholes. Le Coudray-Salbart is currently undergoing major restoration work and is open for part of the year.

Step 5: Le lavoir de Salbart

Château du Coudray-Salbart is closely linked to the destiny of Mélusine, the fairy builder of Poitou.
As for the wash-house at its foot, it is haunted by the fairy washerwoman, who does her laundry out of sight. Any other woman who ventures out before dawn to spread her sheets in the cold water is whisked away!

Step 6: La fontaine Braye

The lack of water, a sensitive issue in the early 18th century, led to the construction of a number of public fountains in towns and villages, with the gradual elimination of wells and water carriers. The standpipe with swing and tap proved more practical than the winch wells, but from the end of the 19th century onwards, some of them were destroyed to make way for motorised traffic.

Step 7: Moulin neuf et son lavoir

The washhouse is a convivial place where only the women of the village meet.
People sometimes fight over seats, but they also help each other out. News is exchanged and gossip is rife: "The only living room where people talk! Family secrets are revealed here: "All your private life can be read in the linen". Hence the expression "Laver son linge sale en famille" ("Wash your dirty laundry in the family"). The judgements of others and rivalries often encourage backbiting, which is served up by a formidable vocabulary. The volume of the voices and the sound of the beaters in full action sometimes provoke complaints from the neighbours, but the laughter and familiarity of the washerwomen help to nurture the village community.

Step 8: La ferme de Milan

The Milan farm was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman villa known as "Villa Milon", given by Clovis in 567 to the monks of Saint-Maixent and which was the origin of the first fortress of Le Coudray.

Step 9: Château-Gaillard (privé)

The former feudal manor house, owned in 1678 by the squire Jacques de Liniers, was converted into a dwelling at the end of the 19th century by Mr Fouquet de Massogne; the dovecote dating from 1720 has been preserved.
The château's outbuildings housed the classic car collection of transport entrepreneur Roger Baillon, who died in Brûlain in 1996. The wreckage of a Talbot T26 Grand Sport; a Ferrari 250 GT spider California, once owned by Alain Delon; three Delahaye coaches, post-war type 235 models built in the workshops of Levallois coachbuilder Henri Chapron were auctioned off at the Rétromobile show in Paris in 2015.

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