The fortified village of Vouvant nestles into the rambling countryside at the north end of the Mervent-Vouvant forest and claims to be one of the prettiest in France. (15 min. drive)

The Mervent forest has excellent walks, a lake with bathing facilities, a zoo, a fun park and numerous cycle routes (20

Base de Loisirs de L'Etruyere, La Tardiere, 4 miles distant, has a small lake with pedalos and crazy golf. It also has a small pool that is particularly suitable for smaller children. The pool is open July and August.

Le Puy de Fou, (40 min. drive) is an historical theme park which brings to life periods of history in a spectacular manner. Gladiators battle and charioteers race in a Roman stadium; Vikings rise miraculously out of a lake on a longship; English and French armies fight over a medieval castle; and birds of prey swoop over head. During the summer months there are also illuminated evening performances when 1,200 local volunteers of all ages recount the history of the region.

The town of Fontenay-Le-Comte sits astride the River Vendee. It is the home of Le Chateau Terre Neuve, built in 1580. An indoor and outdoor market is held on Saturday mornings. (25 min. drive).

The medieval walled town of Parthenay is very interesting to walk around. Visitors can reach the top of the gatehouse which provides views over the River Thouet and the lower part of the town which is lined with medieval timber-framed houses. Many of the houses retain the wooden ground floor shutters that folded down to form a stall. (30 minutes drive).

The Marais Poitevin. The landscape is criss-crossed by a system of canals lined by willows and poplar trees. The canals are covered with green weed which gives it its name of Venice-Vert or Green Venice. Dotted along the banks are many pretty little stone cottages. The marshlands support a variety of flora and fauna, many of which are rare and unique. Much of this is best viewed either from the flat bottom boats on hire all along the canals or by taking a stroll along the many quiet footpaths. (45 minutes drive).

Maillezais is 12 kilometres east of Fontenay le Comte. It is is one of the major embarcadere (landing places) on the Marais Poitevin. The 11th century, Abbaye St Pierre, is now in ruins but its impressive remains are a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The port city of La Rochelle and the coast are approximately 70 mins drive away. At the Old Port of La Rochelle, two medieval towers guard the entrance. It is possible to take boat trips from the Old Port. The city also houses one of the largest aquariums in Europe which includes a gigantic shark tank.

The Loire Valley Châteaux are approximately 50 miles north.

Niort, has good shops and a market on Thursday (40 min drive).

Poitiers, the ancient regional capital, is 50 miles distant. It is also the home of Futuroscope, the European park of the moving image, where there is plenty to amuse the whole family for a day or more. At night during the summer there are fireworks, fountains and laser shows.