An Afternoon Punting in the Marais Poitevin

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When anyone talks about punting, my mind inevitably goes to one place: Venice. I've never really wanted to go punting in Venice – the canals smell much too strong and I have an aversion to anything extremely touristy... but the thought of punting outside of Venice? Yes. What could be nicer than sitting in a boat and slowly traveling through a series of canals as you peacefully take in your surroundings? Luckily for me, I got to do just that earlier this month, in the Marais Poitevin. While we were staying at a family home in Western France, my partner's parents suggested that we explore the region and spend an afternoon in the nearby Marais Poitevin. The Marais Poitevin is a large region of marshland near the city of Niort, crossed by a series of canals. The canals are surrounded by trees and often covered in duckweed and the Marais Poitevin is consequently also known as the "Green Venice." The duckweed had disappeared in the areas we explored, but we had a wonderful, peaceful, and very green afternoon anyway.

A row of boats ready for hire...

A lone weeping willow...

There may not have been any duckweed, but the trees reflecting off the water still made for a very green waterway.

Unexpected cows along the canal... apparently now a very important aspect of my aesthetic.

Much to my pleasure, some of the canals were flanked by houses and very pretty flowered gardens and bridges.

All photos by Antoine Willemin and Olivia Lindem.