Exploring the hidden gem of the Thouet River takes you south from the Loire Valley to the Thouet’s sources in the Poitou-Charentes Region. Enchanting heritage sites along the way include remarkable churches, as many pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela (in Spain) passed this way in medieval times.
Take your time to enjoy the unspoilt setting, with kingfishers, longicorn beetles and scarce chaser dragonflies accompanying you along the way as the landscapes shift.
Heading up the Thouet Valley from Saumur to Parthenay, you go back in history, often following the historic pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela.
The route leads you along quiet roads and country tracks, guiding you through villages towards the fine Romanesque heritage dotted around, including medieval churches, chapels, mills and bridges.
Following the Thouet, you’ll also pass right by striking Renaissance castles, the towns of Parthenay, Thouars and Saumur, designated Villes d’Art et d’Histoire thanks to their rich heritage, plus Petites Cités de Caractère, especially delightful small historic towns or villages, that include Airvault, Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet, Le Coudray-Macouard and Montreuil-Bellay.
The tourist operation entitled ‘Open churches, welcoming churches’ encourages you to explore the mysteries of some 15 exceptional local religious edifices dating from the Romanesque period to the French Renaissance, going via the Plantagenet, or early Gothic, style.
Enjoy the magical site of Pougne-Hérisson with its festival, together with the events staged for the Jeux à Parthenay and Musiques du Monde et de l’Aborigène at Airvault (focusing on world music and aboriginal music) that punctuate the summer along the Thouet. Also look out for all manner of nature outings and the odd night-time event that incite you to get to know this land of legends even more intimately.