Nieul-sur-l'Autise is a village of Vendée, Pays de la Loire region, bordering the department of Deux-Sèvres and located 12 km southeast of Fontenay-le-Comte.
If traces of Neolithic settlement and then of human activity in the Gallo-Roman period have been uncovered on the territory, the history of the locality is essentially linked to the establishment in the 11th century of an abbey which benefited protection of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine. The religious participated in the development of the Marais Poitevin. The abbey pays a high tribute to the Wars of Religion but the abbey, the cloister and convent buildings are preserved. The whole remains to this day a pole of tourist and cultural attractiveness major for the locality, which benefits from the label "Small city of character".
Nieul-sur-l'Autise, which has about 1,300 inhabitants and an activity area, puts its historical and natural heritage forward, for the pleasure of visitors and vacationers.
Gate of the Marais Poitevin.
Seat of the Community of Communes Vendée Sèvre Autise.
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 almost intact buildings. Classified as a Historical Monument since 1862, bought in 1968 by the department, it is restored and enhanced. The site visit is done in two stages. The guided discovery of the abbey and 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 every day 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 different 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 Chateau du 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 tour of Nieul-sur-l'Autise is rounded off with the Champ Durand neolithic camp discovered in 1971. Protected by enclosures and ditches, the 3-hectare site probably housed a place of trade and commerce. housing... Accessible via adapted signage, the camp is visited through information panels punctuating this amazing testimony of the lives of our distant ancestors who lived in these places a few millennia before our era.
For walking enthusiasts, a discovery trail linking 21 sites, buildings or places presenting the most interesting elements of the heritage of the locality has been developed. 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 hikes 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 classified as a Historic Monument.
Church Notre Dame of the eleventh century.
For the curious: a mausoleum.
To see: a small private museum at the mill of Pacouinay.
On the weekend of Pentecost, the Feast of the Milling on the site of the old mill offers many events on the history and local traditions but also concerts in a friendly atmosphere.
As part of the festival Nights Musical Vendée romane (from early July to mid-August), a concert is always held at St. Vincent Abbey in the evening (jazz, classical music or song).
July 14, garage sale and market producers and artisans in the park of the castle of Vignaud.