Le Marais Poitevin

Sunday Pascale and Jacky picked us up and took us to see le Marais Poitevin, which is classified as un grand site de France. 

Le Marais Poitevin
Le Marais Poitevin

But before we got in a barque we had a bit of time to wander around the town:

Les Roses de Coulon
Les Roses de Coulon
Coulon, Marais Poitevin
Coulon, Marais Poitevin

And then had a traditional grand dejeuner here:

Auberge de l'Ecluse
Auberge de l’Ecluse
Auberge de l'Ecluse
Auberge de l’Ecluse

We ordered way too much food. The set menu included entrée, plat, fromage (optional extra), and dessert. First course for me, fois gras:

Entrée (first course): fois gras
Entrée (first course): fois gras

Then le plat or main course, where I misunderstood the menu and managed to order veal kidneys for both David and me. Jacky asked if I understood what I was ordering, but I assured him yes. David was, of course, at my mercy, since it was all written and discussed in French. Jacky also chose this, so here’s what three of us ate:

Rognons de Veau
Rognons de Veau

Pascale had an assortment of things, including eel, which we tasted and actually liked. Definitely a new experience. Then, the cheese course. I wasn’t able to finish any course but the first, not even the two small slices of chevre, and explained to the waiter, “J’avais les yeux plus gros que le ventre.” This is a well-known French expression just like the English expression, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” But because it was part of the set menu, here came dessert after the cheese course. When the waiter set mine down, he said quietly to me, “Désolé.” (“Sorry.”) Too cute. Here’s dessert for me:

Ile Flottante
Ile Flottante

Fortunately, the top part of an Ile Flottante is a very light meringue, mostly air, and the creamy custard part was fabulous. Still, I could only manage to eat a  few bites. After this feast, Pascale and Jacky rented une barque, like one of these, for une petite balade in the marais.

Coulon, Marais Poitevin
Coulon, Marais Poitevin

Marais can be translated “bog, marsh, swamp,” none of which seem to evoke how beautiful and tranquil it all was. Pascale and Jacky were smart enough to rent the boat WITH the guy on the back, le pilote, to do all the paddling.

Une Barque avec  un Pilote
Une Barque avec un Pilote

At one point we caught up to a barque sans pilote, stuck sideways, blocking the entire canal, and the guys paddling managed to get it unstuck only to get stuck again, which was–let’s be honest–hilarious. Other than that, though, it was remarkably serene considering how mobbed the town was.

Marais Poitevin
Marais Poitevin

We glided along, completely relaxed, taking pictures and settling into the peace of the place. I kept feeling the urge to recite from The Wind in the Willows, especially after catching a quick glimpse of Ratty (or one of his French cousins) right before he dived under the bow.

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” * 

I agree, especially if you can do it on a perfect Sunday afternoon with delightful friends.

*Rat to Mole in The Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. See the quotes page for newly added quotes from Kenneth Grahame. 

7 thoughts on “Le Marais Poitevin”

  1. Dear Sunny: We miss you and David around here. Beautiful blog and pictures. So glad to know you are having a grand time and making the best of your time there. So many adventures to have!
    I think you meant to say “J’avais les yeux plus gros que le ventre” instead of “vent” =wind. 🙂
    I will be visiting home this summer and can’t wait to be back in Europe. Hugs to you two!

    1. Hahaha. See what I mean about making mistakes in French every day? And I even supposedly know both of those words! I’ll change it right now. Thanks! Hugs back to you!

  2. Sunny: I wish you a very happy birthday. When I recently told one of our friends that my daughter is in France, he asked, “Where in France?” Then I got curious about where La Rochelle is – and looked it up on Bing Maps and Wikipedia. Wow! The history goes back to the 10th century and includes the Hundred Years War and hundreds of years in other wars. Apparently, La Rochelle is worth fighting for! Also, I learned that La Rochelle is virtually unique in being a major seaport not at the mouth of a river. I wish you and David a great summer in France. Dad

  3. many years ago my sister, who believed she had a great command of French came to travel with us. in Alsace, she ordered ” rognon d’agneau” –what she thought were veal medallions. i was quiet after i asked her if she really wanted that. i almost exploded with laughter later as she valiantly struggled with the kidneys on her plate.

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