Vouvant, Pays de la Loire: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Vouvant (Pays de la Loire, France)
Vouvant is a village 12 kilometres north of Fontenay-le-Comte in the Vendée department of Pays de la Loire, on a small hill in a pretty sett surrounded by a bend in the Mère river. It is listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France'.
A significant part of the charm of Vouvant comes from its setting, with the river surrounding the village and crossed by a footbridge and a stone arched bridge, and with nicely maintained gardens also to be seen along the side of the river.
In part still surrounded by ramparts, Vouvant can still be entered by one of the original gates in the fortified walls, called the poterne. As you pass through the gate remember that it was at this place, in 1557 during the Wars of religion, that more than 200 people were killed in a terrible battle.
Within the village itself narrow streets, lined with well-preserved medieval houses, lead to the central square and the Notre-Dame Church. The church is mostly in the roman style dating from the 12th century and has a semi-circle of ornate carvings featuring animals, characters and various biblical events around the entrance (the higher part of the facade is a later addition, in gothic style).
On the edges of Vouvant don't miss the 14th century stone bridge across the river (cross the bridge to see the town washhouse) to the east, and the Tower of Melusine to the north: the remaining part of a chateau that once stood here and called the Fortress of the Lusignan, the Mesuline tower was the castle keep and watchtower. The open area next to the tower, the Place du Bail, was once the courtyard of the castle.
Note: The village associates itself with Melusine, an important legendary character in Europe, half-fairy half-snake, who was said to be from this region and to have built the castle in Vouvant during the course of a single night. You can learn more about the history and legend of Mesuline in a display at the Vouvant tourist office.
There is also a small Priory Garden, representing the plants grown in a medieval garden: vegetables; practical plants (e.g. for making dyes); medicinal plants; and flowers grown for the church decoration.
After exploring the centre of Vouvant you can follow the footpath around the edge of the village, between the ramparts and the river.
The local tourist office suggests several walks of varying difficulty starting from Vouvant - ask for details in the village.
The countryside around the village is a land of deep forests and lakes, and the marshes of the Marais-Poitevin are to the west. A landscape that has attracted, and still attracts, numerous artists to the town, drawn by the contrasts, the light and the natural beauty.
Map of Vouvant and places to visit
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Vouvant is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Vouvant, Châtaigneraie, Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendee, Pays de la Loire, 85120, France || GPS: latitude 46.573, longitude -0.768
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Eglise de Notre-Dame (Vouvant): religious monument
- Natur'Zoo de Mervent: zoo or wildlife park (7km)
- Fontenay-le-Comte: recommended detour (12km)
- Abbaye Royale (Nieul-sur-l'Autise): religious monument (18km)
- Jardins du Bâtiment: remarkable garden (19km)
- Abbaye Saint Pierre et Eglise de Saint Nicolas (Maillezais): religious monument (23km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption (Maille): religious monument (26km)
- Eglise de Saint-Eulalie (Benet): religious monument (26km)
- Marais Poitevin: grand site of france (28km)
- Jardins de Chaligny: remarkable garden (28km)
The French version of this page is at Vouvant (Francais)