At the heart of the Marais Poitevin, also known as the Venise Verte (“Green Venice”), Coulon is an atmospheric village with whitewashed marshland houses featuring colorful shutters. Interlaced with tranquil canals, the village is the capital of the Marais Poitevin (96,000-hectares of marshland protected as a Natural Regional Park).
The Maison du Marais Poitevin celebrates the regional culture with exhibits about the marshland environment, rooms decorated in the typical Marais style, and a carpenter’s boat-making workshop.
During summertime, the Maison du Marais Poitevin offers guided tours by foot and boat. Local boatmen also lead tours through the marshland on traditional flat-bottomed boats. Alternatively, tourists can rent canoes to explore the waterways at their leisure.
Coulon is the main community of the Marais Poitevin. This alluring village has a noteworthy 11th-century church and blue-shuttered waterfront houses.
Other highlights of the area include:
- Arçais, with its charming old fishing port;
- Magné, which has a gourmet restaurant (the Brasserie de la Repentie) that serves specialties of the Marais area;
- the small hamlet of Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud;
- and the villages on the Sèvre River in the area around Niort.