Nieul-sur-l'Autise is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region, bordering the Deux-Sèvres department, 12 km south-east of Fontenay-le-Comte.
If traces of Neolithic settlement and then of human activity during the Gallo-Roman period were discovered on the territory, the history of the locality is mainly linked to the implantation in the eleventh century of an abbey which benefited Of the protection of the Counts of Poitou and the Dukes of Aquitaine. The monks participated in the works of the Marais Poitevin. The abbey pays a heavy tribute to the Wars of Religion but the abbey, the cloister and the conventual buildings are preserved. Together they remain a pole of tourist and cultural attractiveness for the locality, which enjoys the label "Small city of character".
Nieul-sur-l'Autise, with a population of about 1,300 inhabitants and an area of activity, puts its historical and natural heritage in front of visitors and holidaymakers alike.
It is logically the abbey dedicated to Saint Vincent, founded in 1068, which constitutes the major patrimonial element of the locality. Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was born there in 1122, granted him the status of royal abbey. Ruined after the Wars of Religion, it was abandoned by the monks and to the Revolution, land and buildings were sold as National Goods. However, the abbey is one of the few monastic complexes of the Romanesque period in the region which has preserved an abbey church, a cloister with its four galleries and almost intact buildings. Classified as a Historical Monument since 1862, bought in 1968 by the department, it is restored and enhanced. The visit of the site is done in two stages. The guided discovery of the abbey and the buildings first, then a free visit of the adjoining houses as part of a scenography and interactive kiosks allowing everyone to know the history and operation of an abbey. Open every day from 1 April to the end of September, every day except Tuesdays from October to March. Closed the last three weeks of January. Entrance: from 4 to 6 euros. Information on +33 2 51 50 43 00.
Once visited this masterpiece of French Romanesque art, we continue in a different register but equally loaded with history with the Maison de la Meunerie, a patrimonial ensemble formed around a mill erected on the course of The Autise in 1728 and which was restored in the 1990s. The visit includes the discovery of the mechanics of the mill (large paddlewheel, flintstones), the manufacture of flour according to the Ancestral methods, and the reconstituted dwelling of a miller and his family in the 19th century. Demonstrations, animations and workshops (on the themes of milling and bread) are frequent, especially in July and August. Open from Tuesday to Sunday. Admission: 3,50 and 5 euros. Information on +33 2 51 52 47 43 or +33 2 51 50 48 80.
The castle of Vignaud, dating from the First Empire, is also worth a look. One will particularly appreciate the shady park of 4.5 hectares along the river. It is now a reception center with accommodation. Information on +33 2 51 52 43 38.
The historic tour of Nieul-sur-l'Autise is looped with the Neolithic camp of Champ Durand unearthed in 1971. Protected by enclosures and ditches, the site of 3 hectares probably sheltered a place of trade and houses... Accessible via a The camp is visited thanks to information panels punctuating this amazing testimony of the life of our distant ancestors who lived in these places some millennia before our era.
For lovers of walking, a discovery trail linking 21 sites, buildings or places presenting the most interesting elements of the heritage of the locality has been laid out. Pedestrian signs or boards are installed in front of or near each of them. Brochure and information at the town hall, and on +33 2 51 52 40 12.
On the margins of the domesticated marsh over the centuries, Nieul-sur-l'Autise and its surroundings are also conducive to many hikes to apprehend a singular historical and natural heritage. Trails and circuits to walk or mountain bike or even horseback riding have been designed. Maps, brochures and information on +33 2 51 47 88 20.
On the weekend of Pentecost, the Meunerie festival on the site of the old mill offers numerous animations on the history and local traditions but also concerts in a friendly atmosphere.
During the Festival des Nuits musicales in the Vendée romane (from the beginning of July to the middle of August), a concert is always held at Saint-Vincent Abbey in the evening (jazz, classical music or song).
On July 14th, garage sale and market of producers and craftsmen in the park of the castle of Vignaud.