Mucking around in the marshes.
I often write about the beautiful region of Green Venice to the south of the Vendée, so this week I thought I’d visit a region not well known to me, namely the Marais Breton. Testament to that area’s once all important salt farming industry, this delightful labryrinth of canals and rivers in now home to diverse wild life and enchanting, historical memories.
The Marais Breton is a vast area in the north east of the region and like it’s sister marsh in the south, it’s had its share or Romans, Benedictine monks, Vikings and Normans shaping its contours over the centuries but now represents a brilliantly preserved ecology.
Two treats in Sallertaine.
1. Ile aux artisans.
More or less in the heart of the region is the pretty town of Sallertaine and this is where I ended up. Once an island, in what was a silty bay, this town is home to white washed buildings and a vibrant community of artisans who come together under the umbrella of Ile aux artisans. If arts and crafts is your thing, then this represents paradise for you with this combination or artists, jewellery makers, woodworkers, textile production and more. And throughout the summer, they host 4 spectacular night time events which combine music, street theatre, shows and an opportunity to enjoy the artisan’s work.
2. La route du sel.
Another compelling reason to visit this charming little town is an opportunity to explore the ancient salt marshes by way of canoe. There are lots of different canoe trips (or walks) available for exploring this area from family outings to BBQ events, but the two that really caught my eye were the sunrise canoe and the night canoe. It’s hard to resist the magical tranquillity of slipping quietly through these waters as the sun slowly drives away the mist or canoeing in the dusk past the XIIth century remains of the Abbey at the Ile Chauvet and enjoying a candlelit dinner. You can find all the details of where and how to book at http://www.larroutedusel.com
There are lots of other reasons to visit this little corner of the Vendée, which include the 12th century Romanesque church at Sallertaine, the longest operating windmill in France or a trip down to the beautiful Atlantic coast, where I’d always recommend a quayside lunch in St.Gilles. I’d love to hear from anyone who has already enjoyed any of the above or perhaps you can recommend your own secret delight that you’ve discovered in the region.