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Niort/St-Hilaire-la-Palud - The Marais Poitevin Line

Tourist coach service to the Marais Poitevin.



Nature (faune, flore)

Routes 21 and 22 (formerly the Maraîchine route) run all year round and include 6 departures from Niort (6 during school term time). They depart from the SNCF station, passing through the Brèche gardens and the Pôle Atlantique. The 21 then serves Bessines, Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan, Sansais, Amuré, Saint-Georges-de-Rex, Le Vanneau, Arçais and Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud. Route 22 heads for Sevreau, Magné and Coulon. On Saturdays, remember to book the day before, before 5pm, for 2 out of 3 timetables. For more information, visit
Only small animals are allowed in the vehicles, provided they are carried in a basket bag or cage, as well as guide dogs held in a harness and assistance dogs for people with reduced mobility.

Niort/St-Hilaire-la-Palud - The Marais Poitevin Line

Distance : 72.7 km

Step 1: Niort, ville par nature

With a population of sixty thousand, Niort is a city with nine centuries of history. From its historic centre, bathed by the Sèvre Niortaise, to the Place de la Brèche, the town boasts a rich heritage, including the imposing keep built by Henry II Plantagenet, King of England. Today, the heart of the agglomeration beats to the rhythm of the street arts, with many festive events taking place in the town centre and its neighbourhoods. From the top of its hills, Niort dominates the unique landscape of the Marais Poitevin and opens its doors. The capital of the mutualist economy, Niort is asserting its urban and natural character by reclaiming the banks of its river and preserving the city's biological and cultural diversity.

Step 2: Magné

Magné, from the Latin "Magnus" meaning great, is the former name of a wealthy Roman family who settled on an island in the Gulf of the Pictons. Bordered by the Sèvre Niortaise and the Sevreau, the village has four bridges spanning the waterways, the most distinctive of which is the metal drawbridge that bears witness to the golden age of river trade in the 19th century. This traffic was used to export pottery, an old local industry fuelled by bri marin, the clay from the marshes. The heart of Magné is centred around the church, and the town has a long tradition of promoting its river heritage. Every year, on the third weekend in July, the banks of the Sèvre play host to the International Painting Festival, attended by 300 artists.

Step 3: Coulon, capitale de la "Venise Verte"

Ideally situated between Niort and the ocean, Coulon was a busy port from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. River traffic and trade in goods ensured constant development. In the 19th century, the original branch of the Sèvre was canalized, creating the present-day layout of the town. The Maison du Marais Poitevin (Poitevin Marsh Centre) on the banks of the river will help you understand and discover the life and traditions of the market gardeners. Coulon is an ideal starting point for discovering the wet marsh on foot, by boat, by bike or by tourist train.

Step 4: Sansais-La Garette et son village-rue

This commune, located on the edge of the Gulf of the Pictons, is made up of two large villages: Sansais perched on the hillside and La Garette on the edge of the marshes. The future king Henri IV visited the latter in 1576 and later said of the Marais that "...Among these deserts are a thousand gardens where you can only go by boat...". La Garette is typical of traditional market gardening, with each house having direct access to the water. An important transit port for goods between Bas-Poitou (north) and Saintonge (south) until the middle of the 19th century, this street village was completely restored in 1995 as part of the Opération Grand Site. It has become a major stop-off point for exploring the Venise Verte. A wooden footbridge on stilts links it to the village of Coulon.

Step 5: Le Vanneau-Irleau

This market-garden and hedged commune is located in the "wild marshes". Vanneau derives from "vana aqua", meaning empty water that prevented any cultivation before canals were dug in the 19th century. Irleau is a contraction of "île Reau", where the piles of a prehistoric lakeside city or more recent fortifications have been unearthed. On the last Saturday in July, the "Market on the Water" is held at the Grand Port du Vanneau, where products from private individuals and traders are sold to over 15,000 visitors! This festive event reflects one of the region's most unique traditions: the transport of people, animals and goods along the waterways that make up the "Green Venice", the authenticity of which is carefully preserved.

Step 6: St-Hilaire-la-Palud, capitale du "Marais sauvage"

Situated in the heart of the "Marais sauvage", the emblematic landscape of the "Venise Verte", Saint-Hilaire-La-Palud gives you access to over 100 km of waterways and white paths. From the Latin "palus" meaning marsh, the people of Saint-Hilaire-La-Palud maintain their skills and traditions through the many summer events organised by volunteers. The river villages of La Rivière and Montfaucon bear witness to the flourishing river trade of the early 18th century. The hamlets of La Névoire bear witness to the brick and tile-making industry, which was once very active. The bird park "les oiseaux du Marais poitevin" now spearheads tourism that respects both nature and people.

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