A landscape between land and sea, the meandering marshes have been crossed, shaped and dammed by their inhabitants for centuries. Under the expert hand of the lock-keepers, the canals known as "étiers" (waterways) sometimes manage the influx of seawater for the salt marshes, sometimes fresh water for the crops.

A little history

The Marais Breton Vendéen or Marô (in local dialect) is not just a place, but a culture: maraîchine culture! The marsh has a repertoire of songs and dances, including the maraîchine, a traditional dance accompanied by the veuze (a typical instrument).

A maraîchin travels around in a yole (flat boat) or with a ningle (large pole over the étiers), leading a simple and independent life, essentially based on rearing cattle, ducks and chickens. The house in which he lives is a "bourrine", a traditional house.

Stéphane Grossin

The villages of Sallertaine and Bouin were once islands: the sea covered our region as far inland as it could go!

The Maraîchine breed

Stéphane Grossin

The Maraîchine is the result of a long-standing genetic selection historically associated with grazing wet meadows. It is renowned for its rich milk and tasty meat. A group of enthusiasts saved it from extinction in extremis, and today the population is made up of some 1,300 females.

It appears to be a variant of the Vendée breed, also known as the Parthenay breed, shaped by marshland meadows. The Maraîchine is distinguished above all by its remarkable size and dairy qualities. The animal is often described as less uniform in shape and type.

The dialect

Maraîchin patois is a Poitevin dialect spoken in the Marais Breton Vendéen region, from the Pays de Retz to the Pays de Riez. Have you ever heard these words and expressions?

  • Daily newspaper : O va taü? How are things? - Ou vas ben Things are going well - A tché faites À coming soon - La boune nouit Good night - Merci, a toe la parélle Thank you, you too - A mail collector A dustpan - Passing since Mopping - ...
  • Leisure activities : Baesér a veràie Have a drink - Jouquaï Perched like a bird - Garocher Throw something - Making yourself big Getting a tan - Scraping Making noise - ...
  • Animals : Lés agrous Poultry - In chevàu A horse - The cow and the bodét The cow and the calf - An egg A ewe - The quenart The duck - In parpillun A butterfly - La pibole The ladybird - Les grolets The crows - Lumas Snails - ...

The village festival

There's no shortage of celebrations in our towns and villages that have a real local flavour. It has to be said that sharing, hospitality and a sense of festivity are in the DNA of market gardeners.


Old-fashioned fair

Simon Bourcier

If you want to immerse yourself in local traditions, the old-fashioned fairs put on every summer by the volunteers from Autrefois Challans are an experience not to be missed! For four Thursdays, the town centre closes to "modern" traffic and comes alive as it did in the good old days. It's a well-oiled machine that takes you back in time, with a funfair, traditional games, wagon rides, a farm produce fair, demonstrations of old trades, vintage shops and cars, market garden dances and shows... all free of charge and all in traditional costume.

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