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.
Porte du Marais Poitevin.
Headquarters of the Community of Communes Autise Sevre Vendee.
It is logically the abbey dedicated to Saint Vincent, founded in 1068, which constitutes the major heritage element of the locality. Eleanor of Aquitaine, who would have been born there in 1122, granted him the status of royal abbey. Ruined after the Wars of Religion, it was abandoned by the monks and the Revolution, lands and buildings were sold as National Properties. However the abbey is one of the few monastic ensembles of the Romanesque period in the region having preserved an abbey, a cloister with its four galleries and buildings almost intact. 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 terminals allowing everyone to know the history and operation of an abbey. Open daily from April 1st to the end of September, every day except Tuesday from October to March. Closed the last three weeks of January. Entry: 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 but equally significant history with the Maison de la Meunerie, a heritage building formed around a mill erected on the course of the Autise in 1728 and which was the subject of a restoration in the 1990s. The visit includes the discovery of the mechanics of the mill (large paddle wheel, flint wheels), the manufacture of flour according to the ancestral methods, and the reconstituted dwelling of a miller and his family in the nineteenth century. The free-range visit is animated by a playful scenography (Suzanne looks for her cat in the various parts of the site and goes to meet the characters who lived there). Demonstrations, animations and workshops (on the themes of milling and bread) frequent, especially in July and August. Note that the Maison de la Meunerie manufactures its flour during its opening season. Open from 14h to 18h Wednesday to Sunday from early April to early November and every day from 10:30 to 12:30 and from 14h to 19h in July and August. Entry: 3.50 and 5 euros. Information on +33 2 51 52 47 43.
The castle of Vignaud, dating from the First Empire, is also worth a look. We will particularly appreciate the shaded 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 historical overview of Nieul-sur-l'Autise is rounded off with the Champ Durand neolithic camp unearthed in 1971. Protected by enclosures and ditches, the 3-hectare site probably housed a place of trade and housing... Accessible via a adapted signage, the camp is visited thanks to information panels punctuating this amazing testimony of the life of our distant ancestors who lived in these places a few thousand years before our era.
For walking enthusiasts, a discovery trail linking 21 sites, buildings or places presenting the most interesting elements of the local heritage has been created. Educational signs or panels are installed in front of or near each of them. Leaflet and information at the town hall, and +33 2 51 52 40 12.
At the margins of the marsh domesticated over the centuries, Nieul-sur-l'Autise and its surroundings are also conducive to many walks to apprehend a unique historical and natural heritage. Trails and circuits to go on foot or mountain bike or even horse were designed. Maps, brochures and information on +33 2 51 47 88 20.
Romanesque Church History Monument.
Notre Dame the 11th century.
For the curious: a mausoleum.
Features: small private museum in Mill Pacouinay.
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.