Wednesday, October 31, 2018

La Vendée

A few steps from the house we rented is the Vendée River, a small river full of fish and other wildlife that is part of the Marais Poitevin (the Poitevin Marsh) region. Parallel to the river where we were is a mixed-use trail system for hikers, bikers, and other recreational users. Sections of the trail are closed to vehicular traffic, making it a good place to walk the dog.

The river at the end of our road, with a small parking area and a few picnic tables.

The land on either side of the river is mostly agricultural. We saw many pastures for cows, fields for corn and other crops, and up on the heights were a few vineyards. The fields are criss-crossed by hedgerows and called bocage, a landscape feature that we don't have here in the Touraine where we live.

A house on the heights above the river.

We each walked Tasha along the river both in the evenings and in the mornings. On the morning walks we were pretty much alone save for a few fishermen on the banks or in small boats, and a small group of cows munching on grass. There were plenty of birds, too. Many ducks and other water birds and some others that I didn't recognize.

If you look closely, you might see the guy in his boat arranging his fishing gear for a morning outing.

On two mornings I saw a couple of ragondins (coypu or nutria) scurrying along the opposite bank and swimming in the river. At first I thought they were big rats, and they are related, but I'm certain that they were coypu. Apparently they dig their burrows along river banks to feed on plant stems. I saw a brown one and a white one. They steered clear of the dog.


  1. From my book on "The Bocage", the hedges aren't "bocage"... but the system of small fields is...
    "Les parcelles de prés sont fermées par des haies naturelles, offrant un paysage de bocage."
    The Marais is a vital area for biodiversity... it is the last refuge of the European Mink [like the fur Mink, but with a white chin]
    It is interesting that you saw a white Ragondin.... it must've been an albino, or similar... but, they are more closely related to Guinea Pigs than rats... like the Capybara [which is actually kept as a pet by some people in France....] They are not only bred & killed for their fur, but they are good eating!!
    Where you were, you would have been able to buy their pâté.... "Pâté du lievre de Marais".... marsh hare paté!!

    1. Need to find out where you were, Pauline and I haven't had a "holiday" since we moved here!!

  2. This really does look idyllic. What a nice escape... from your equally beautiful lives at home.

  3. The Vendée river looks very bucolic and peaceful.

  4. You were lucky to have such a nice area to walk Tasha. I bet she enjoyed the new smells.

  5. tim, we did see some pâté de ragondin in the markets. It didn't tempt me.

    mitch, it was nice to have a change of scenery.

    chm, it was quite calm, the typical "lazy river."

    judy, I knew the word, but never really knew what one looked like.

    evelyn, it was great to have a place where she could be off the leash.


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