moulin places of interest
ACCOLADES OF EXCELLENCE
recent international awards on local tourist attractions
2013 The city of Nantes was designated EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL
2012 Historical and Cultural 'Theme Park' PUY DU FOU won top THEA AWARD out of 700 sites in 40 countries
2012 Region of POITOU-CHARENTES was nominated in the TOP TEN tourism sites in the world by LONELY PLANET
Poitou-Charentes is an administrative Region presently comprising the departments of les Deux Sèvres, Vienne, Charente-Maritime and Charentes. Le Moulin du Chemin is in the department of les Deux Sèvres.
LESS THAN 1 HOUR BY CAR from le Moulin du Chemin
Plenty to see in Vouvant, Climb 120 steps in 13thC Mélusine’s Tower for views of the village, forest of Mervent and the bocage. Take a one-hour stroll to see the Ramparts, Postern Gate, XI century Church and the “Roman” bridge. Stop for a drink at one of the agreeable pavement cafés. Follow the 11km waymarked forest walk. (Vouvant is 20 mins drive from le Moulin).
A colourful country market takes place at Coulonges-sur-l’Autize on Tuesday mornings. Local produce is sold including live chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits. Creamy local honey is worth taking home as well as fat garlic (end of summer), both sold in the market. There is a shaded garden behind the Château on the main square and several
welcoming bars, in case a cold beer beckons! (20 mins).
Faymoreau Striking modern stained glass (shown above) by famous French artist Carmelo Zagari can be seen in the miners' chapel. There is also an appealing exhibition of the lives of coal miners and their families in the area between 1827 and 1958 and a pleasing 10km rural waymarked walk. (14 mins)
Pescalis the fishing enthusiast’s paradise. Hundreds of acres of rivers and lakes dedicated as an international centre of angling and nature – unique in Europe. (10 mins).
Climb to the top of the promontory for lovely views of lake and forest at Mervent. Follow 5km or 11km waymarked trails through a magnificent mixed deciduous forest. Take a rest at a lakeside bar (40 mins)
Appreciate the poetry and silence of the Marais Poitevin, also known as Venise Verte or Green Venice, an immense region of rural watercourses constructed in medieval times to tame the delta of the river Sèvre Niortaise where it flows into the Atlantic. The curious village ports of Coulon, Arçais, Damvix and others are well worth exploring – they take on a festive air in summer. Take a trip with a fine young boatman or rent a barque and follow a watery waymarked route.
Rent a bike (or if you are on a Cycling Holiday, we will take you and your bike) to enjoy the flat terrain. Visit the vineyard at Vix in the strange land of the “dry marsh”, taste and buy some distinctive, good quality wines. Much of the Marais Poitevin remains unexplored by outsiders. There are a lot of unusual birds in the Marais Poitevin including bee-eaters, short toed eagles, bluethroats and many more – a birdwatcher’s paradise. (40 mins).
At le Grand Parc du Puy du Fou there are a series of world-class spectacular “shows”. For example, there is a 6,000 seat Roman Stadium with live chariot racing, a stunning falconry display (upwards of 200 raptors from hawks to condors) with a spine-tingling music system and, among other exciting attractions, a wonderful demonstration of stunt riding with some superb dressage. Puy de Fou is situated among pleasant lakes and cool woods. On weekend evenings throughout the summer the Château de Puy de Fou engages 2,700 actors, 60 horsemen huge amount of the latest technology in what can only be described as an incredible show. It starts at nightfall, never fails to thrill, and plays to capacity audiences of 14,000 (after the show the car park is clear within one hour - it's very well organised). The backdrop of the 23 hectare stage (true, not a typo) is the ruined château of Puy de Fou. It’s necessary to book in advance (internet) or you’ll be lucky to get a place. Puy de Fou is highly recommended by day or night. (55 mins).
Eleanor's Abbey Don’t imagine this just another dusty old abbey. The site at Nieul-sur-l’Autize has been sympathetically restored and animated with innovative use of computer effects. It is easy to spend two or three hours at the abbey - properly know as the Abbaye de St-Vincent (St-Vincent’s Abbey) - and the adjacent la Maison Aiénor (Eleanor’s House) and be absolutely delighted with the experience. Eleanor, whose mother is buried at Nieul-sur-l’Autize obtained an accord in 1141 whereby the abbey was granted royal status, which meant that the abbey was thereafter protected by the monarch (until they guillotined Louis XIV!), giving rise to the name of Eleanor’s Abbey. Eleanor married the English Henry Plantagenet and was mother to Richard the Lionheart. This site is so well done that it is interesting even for folk who think they have no interest in history. As with most places of interest in the region, the abbey is unlikely to be heaving with other tourists. (35 mins)
Explore the extensive remains of the XII century fortified Abbaye de Maillezais. If you like historical sites these are very rewarding with plenty to see and learn. Maillezais is on the edge of the Marais Poitevin (see above). (40 mins)
Niort is a medieval town with a pleasing unrushed air about it. It has an excellent covered market – open Tuesday to Sunday. A XIII century donjon, museum and pleasant cafés. Niort also has two highly acclaimed (by our guests) perfumeries and is a locally well known retail therapy centre!! XII century ruined fortifications may be seen at nearby at Château du Coudray-Salbert. (40 mins).
Le Cébron is a 275 acre wetland reserve where more than 150 species of birds have so far been recorded. Fishing and windsurfing are also available nearby. (60 mins).
The 4,500BC megalithic funeral site, Tumulus of Bougon provides an insight into pre-history. The site has been extensively re-excavated and is open to the public with an interesting museum of prehistory. (60 mins).
The fascinating medieval town of Parthenay was allegedly created by a wave of fairy Mélusine’s wand. (Mélusine’s wand also created the tower of Vouvant – see the first paragraph above. She was clearly inclined towards overachievement!). Parthenay was an important stop on the pilgrims route to Santiago de Compostela. A three hour summer guided tour takes in the drawbridge gate, citadel and several other points of interest. Parthenay has one of Europe’s largest cattle markets on Wednesdays and numerous beckoning bars and cafés. www.gatine.org (30 mins).
Mouton Village (sheep village) at Vasles keeps twenty-two varieties of sheep from around the world, in a delightful setting, as well as an exhibition of the history and husbandry of sheep. A Château and a Golf Club are situated nearby (60 mins).
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BETWEEN 1 AND 2 HOURS BY CAR from le Moulin du Chemin
The sophisticated city of Nantes was nominated European Green Capital, in 2013. The historic city is very interesting to look around, especially if you are arriving or departing from Aeroporte d'Atlantique de Nantes (1½ hours).
A visit to the Loire Valley is highly recommended if you have the energy and inclination to visit some of the seventy-five magnificent Chateaux de la Loire. There are also many other attractions in the Loire Valley, we can provide further information (1½ hours).
Saumur on the Loire is the Equestrian Capital of France. It is home to le Cadre Noir and l’Ecole Nationale d’Equitation (French National School of Equitation). Shows and open-days are frequent and you can take a daily guided tour round the facilities. The charming Château of Saumur is also worth a visit. (1½ hours).
Doué la Fontaine has a well-arranged zoo and several former troglodyte settlements to visit as well as an ancient, mysterious carved cavern. (1½ hours).
Futuroscope has the latest in cinematic and simulation technology on a spectacular 175-acre site. More than a full day is needed for a complete visit, but a partial visit can be worth it! www.futuroscope.com (1¼ hours).
Renaissance Château d'Oiron made over to a permanent exhibition Contemporary Arts. It is a little eccentric, a little surrealist, a little bizarre, a little amusing and totally agreeable. http://www.oiron.fr/ Great for an inclement day, or in case of a heat wave - the thick walls of the château will keep you cool. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_d'Oiron. (1½ hours)
Linger in a waterfront café in the Old Port at La Rochelle or savour the character of the Old Town, which is also home to a fashionable shopping centre. La Rochelle has a variety of other attractions and is also famous for excellent seafood restaurants. Well worth a visit if you are passing through la Rochelle en-route to le Moulin (1½ hours).
The Baudet de Poitou is a large donkey with huge ears and Rastafarian hair. It used to be crossed with Mulassier horses to produce a very large mule that was a beast of burden for military and industry in days gone by. The National Research Institute near Dampierre-sur-Boutonne has rescued the Baudet de Poitou from near extinction and continues to cross breed with Mulassiers. Open to the public. There is a Renaissance Château nearby. (1½ hours).
Fascinating tours are available of various Cognac producers’ facilities, most times of the year. In recent years Cognac has been associated older people which has resulted in reduced popularity of the product(no disrespect to older people intended). Cognac producers have made a big marketing effort, including revamping their tours of the Cognac facilities in an attempt to recapture a dwindling market, so the tours are particularly well worth a visit just now. (2 hours). www.hennessey.com www.martell.com etc
Spéciales are raised at Marannes, the Oyster Capital of France. There is an informative tourist centre and a wonderful view from the 180ft (and 291 steps) observation platform. (1¾ hours).
World class Zoo de la Palmyre at Royan. 6,000 animals well cared-for and presented. www.zoo-palmyre.fr
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What to do in PARIS Fat Tyre Bike Tours has been highly recommended by our guests Karen and John Curry "It was a real highlight of the trip." September 2013 http://paris.fattirebiketours.com/
Where to stay in Fougeres (north east of Rennes in the direction of Caen) Château-de-Montbraullt proprietors Erwann & Yannick Dores-Leray www.chateau-de-montbraullt.com Here is what Moulin guests Brian and Sue Wilson had to say about it in September 2013.
"Would we recommend it? Probably yes, though it depends what you want. It was a beautifully restored small chateau, very tastefully decorated, with two large en-suite bedrooms and offering a good breakfast. The owners were friendly (with limited English). It’s in a lovely setting, with outdoor areas, a swimming pool and countryside views. The downsides are that: a) it’s a 15 minute drive into Fougeres for an evening meal; and b) the decoration is more formal than it is homely. Not exactly a cheap option, though you do get quite a lot for the price."
For further details see Michelin® Tourist guides. Copies are available at le Moulin for reference.
auberge: Carolynn Grimaldi, 2 lieu-dit le Moulin du Chemin, 79240 Scillé, France
+33 (0)5 4995 9487 – firstname.lastname@example.org