Forget the rush to Futuroscope; these two contrasting centres offer a wonderful focus en route to South West France, the Dordogne or the Loire Valley. The Puy du Fou is an exciting, informative, historical kind of a theme park, where you can wander into a show in the Gallo-Roman Amphitheatre, complete with its lions, then on to the Medieval or 18th century village, the Viking Village or the display of dozens of birds of prey, flying spectacularly over you heads in a castle setting. There are lots more settings, with additions being made each year. The highlight in the evening is the 'cinescenie'. An outdoor theatre gives seating across the lake of the chateau. From here, you are treated to a history of the region, through its villages, told by present-day villagers, including children, exquisite horses and hundreds of farm animals. The show is unforgettable. Two days here are really needed to cover the whole park well. These will be busy, fun and hectic days.
So, what better to follow those days, than a day on the Maris Poitevin, just a little further south. This is a wild area of marshland, which has developed over the past thousand years and is now known as 'Green Venice' , reflecting the green of the willow on the banks of the canals and dykes. You can hire a flat-bottomed rowing boat or take an escorted boat trip. Maps and life jackets are provided, routes are discretely signposted, the banks are lined with wonderful trees, bushes, flowers and occasional sightings of otters and other wild life. Nothing to do but relax and enjoy the gentle lapping of the oars through the still water of the narrow marshland canals. A wonderful start or end to your holiday!
BP25, 85 590 Les Epesses, France
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The Maris Poitevin is a watery expanse to the west of Niort. The small town of Coulon offers a good base and accommodation.
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