At the dawning of the Middle Ages, monks started work draining the marshes and building dikes in the Marais Poitevin (Poitou Marshes) to create navigable waterways in what became an area of huge economic, ecological and historical importance.
Today, this landscape with its thousands of waterways throbs to the rhythm of the many vessels which criss-cross the marshlands as they transport visitors into an enchanting natural world. Dozens of embarkation points can be found in traditional villages from which visitors can set out in canoes or small boats on guided or unescorted tours through the 37,000 hectares of wetlands. A nice place to embark is the Embarcadère de l’Abbaye in the town of Maillezais about 35 minutes from MDM.
Around 20 minutes from MDM is the lovely Mervent Forest, it is the largest forest in the Vendée at over 5000 hectares and there are over 200 kilometers of walking trails crisscrossing through the forest as well as mountain bike and horse trails. Trail maps are available from the tourist office in the town of Mervent. Wildlife includes deer, boar, and a wide variety of birds. There are lakes and rivers to explore as well as swimming and boating, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and bicycles can all be hired nearby.
There is a ‘Natur’zoo’ with over 50 species of animals and also an aerial adventure park in the forest with 4 courses through the trees, a children’s playground, bungee jumping and many other fun activities. In addition there is the Pierre Brune fun park with bumper boats, bouncy castles, train rides and other fun for the kids. See our ‘For the Kids’ section to find out more.