Parc Naturel Interrégional du Marais Poitevin is a tranquil bird-filled wetland dubbed the Venise Verte (Green Venice) due to the duckweed that turns its maze of waterways emerald green each spring and summer. Covering some 800 sq km of wet and drained marsh, the marshlands are interspersed with villages and woods threaded by canals and bike paths. There are two main bases from which to punt out across the waterways: the small honey-coloured town of Coulon and the romantic village of Arçais.
Boating and cycling are the only ways to satisfactorily explore the area; there's no shortage of operators hiring out bikes and flat-bottomed boats or kayaks for watery tours. Rental outlets in both towns offer identical services for the same price: single kayak per hour/half-day from €12/35, three-place canoe from €15/40, six-person wooden boat €10/45. Guided tours are also possible. Bikes can be hired from several operators in both towns for €5/12/18 per hour/half-day/day.
Getting to either Coulon or Arçais is difficult in anything other than your own car or – for serious cyclists – bike.