The Marais Poitevin, situated to the west of Niort, is a 'grand site de France' and the second largest wetland in France. Often referred to as the 'green Venice', it actually comprises three distinct areas - the wet marsh, the dry marsh and the bay d'Algiron. The area makes for a lovely day out where you can rent flat bottomed boats or canoes for self-exploration, or just relax on a guided tour. You can also rent bicyles or just stroll through the many pathways.
Situated in St Hilaire la Palud, there is an interesting bird sanctuary, with over 8 acres which can be visited on foot or by barge.