Marais Poitevin: France’s Green Venice

Wetlands can be dismal swamps, or they can be beautiful vacation destinations like Venice. But you don't have to go to Italy to experience a wetland that's lovely enough to inspire utter tranquility. France has several lowlands, including the huge Marais Poitevin that encompasses 370 square miles -enough to draw tourists without being crowded. They call it la Venise Verte, or the Green Venice.

A maze of islets intersected by strikingly attractive canals covers a third of the marais, known as the wet marsh. Duckweed often covers the surface of the water which is how the place got its sobriquet. The place oozes peace. If you want tranquility, here you have it. Yet it was not always so.

Many paths were cleared across the land during the Roman period and it was settled by the Picton tribe who also gave their name to the nearby city of Poitiers. Later centuries would see raids by the Vikings, which forced the local population deeper in to the wildest areas of the marsh where they subsisted, living the life of hunter-gatherers in to medieval times. Yet almost each year their huts would be flooded by rising waters.

Marais Poitevin was engineered to be more stable and habitable in the 11th century, and is picture-perfect today. See lots of those pictures at Kuriositas. 

(Image credit: Gilbert Bochenek)


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