Children and television violencelink to document abstractslink to short briefings documents link to news zone        news resources at interesting site links at abelard's news and comment zone orientation at abelard's news and comment zone article archives at abelard's news and comment zone
site map Energy - beyond fossil fuelsLoud music and hearing damageWhat is memory, and intelligence? Incautious claims of IQ genes economics and money zone at - government swindles and how to transfer money on the net   technology zone at how to survive and thrive on the web France zone at - another France visit abelard's gallery

back to abelard's front page

motorway aires: 19

france zone logo

motorway aires[1]
in poitou-charentes
- the A83 autoroute


interactive map: hover with your mouse,
clickable areas in pink change to a hand icon


Click for motorways and motorway aires in France.
This page helpful?
Like it ! Share it !


new! Cathedrale Saint-Gatien at Tours  Cathedrale Saint-Gatien at Tours

Romanesque churches and cathedrals in south-west France updated: Romanesque churches and cathedrals in south-west France

 the perpendicular or English style of cathedral  Manchester cathedral

the fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris
the fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris
cathedral giants - Amiens and Beauvais

Stone tracery in church and cathedral construction illustrated
stone in church and cathedral construction

stained glass and cathedrals in Normandy illustrated graph

fortified churches, mostly in Les Landes

cathedral labyrinths and mazes in France
using metal in gothic cathedral construction

Germans in France
cathedral destruction during the French revolution, subsidiary page to Germans in France

Click for an introduction to cathedrals and stained glass in France.

on first arriving in France - driving
France is not England
paying at the péage (toll station)

Click for motorways and motorway aires in France.

Transbordeur bridges in France and the world 2: focus on Portugalete, Chicago, Rochefort-Martrou
Gustave Eiffel’s first work: the Eiffel passerelle, Bordeaux
a fifth bridge coming to Bordeaux: pont Chaban-Delmas, a new vertical lift bridge

France’s western isles: Ile de Ré
France’s western iles: Ile d’Oleron

Ile de France, Paris: in the context of Abelard and of French cathedrals
short biography of Pierre (Peter) Abelard

Marianne - a French national symbol, with French definitive stamps

la Belle Epoque
Grand Palais, Paris

Click to go to pages about Art Deco at

Click to go to 'the highest, longest: the viaduct de Millau'

Pic du Midi - observing stars clearly, A64
Carcassonne, A61: world heritage fortified city

Space City, Toulouse

the French umbrella & Aurillac

50 years old: Citroën DS
the Citroën 2CV: a French motoring icon

the forest as seen by Francois Mauriac, and today
Les Landes, places and playtime
roundabout art of Les Landes

Hermès scarves

Hèrmes logo

bastide towns
mardi gras! carnival in Basque country
country life in France: the poultry fair

what a hair cut! m & french pop/rock

Tour de France 2023s

Le Tour de France: cycling tactics illustrated

New translation, the Magna Carta






the A83
Aire de la Vendée
Aire de Sainte-Florence
Aire de Grissay
Aire de Chavagnes en Paillers
the Marais Poitevin -Poitevin marshes
end notes

interactive map: hover with your mouse,
clickable areas in pink change to a hand icon

Motorway aires are designed to provide a suitable environment for relaxing, refreshing and recovering during the long, hard journeys. As well as facilities of often dubious nature, picnic tables and seats, a telephone kiosk, there are often optional extras such as a play area or a display related to some local interest or event.



This motorway is lined by marching windmills on the flat, agricultural expanses. They are not the biggest, but are beautiful in their arrays of five or six. Note that there are several sound-break banks alongside the motorway which, while they protect locals from noise, also protect travellers for views of the surrounding countryside.

Windmills beside th A83

We travelled mostly from south to north, but many of the comments apply in the southward direction as well.

The aire most replete with distractions, the aire de Vendée, is huge, providing many facilities for an extensive stop.


Aire de la Vendée

On the northbound direction, between junctions J6 and J7, there is a quiet service station, complete with a Wifi point. Go under the motorway by the road tunnel and there is the rest of the aire, including lots of parking.

Here, on the south side of the motorway is a very large and dispersed aire, connected by decking and paths.

orientation plan for Aire de la Vendee

There is an extensive picnic area,

Part of the extensive picnic area

children’s play areas

children's play areas

and a mini Vendean marais (marsh). this is part of the exhibits showing the way of life in the Vendée marais (marshes).

mini Vendean marais (marsh)

advertising disclaimer

Then there is the ‘museum’, open every day during July and August. It has many fairly realistic dioramas of water birds, local people from former times and their daily work, as well as a 3-D model of a farm. Note the building’s floor, which is a glassy green, evoking the water of the canals that help drain the marshes.

Decking walk, with museum and exhibition buildings to left and right.
Decking walk, with museum and exhibition buildings to left and right.


Cafes at Vendee aire, A83

and a large gift and local products shop.

large gift and local products shop

Local products include the Vendée brioche and caramels [fudge] made with butter salted with Île de Ré salt,

Local products: bonbons, flavoured salts, honeys
Local products: bonbons, flavoured salts, honeys

and even Vendée cola!Vendee cola


aire de sainte-florence

As well as the large aire de Vendée, with its features, cafés and shops, there are several smaller, quiet aires de repos - rest areas - on the A83. Sainte-Florence, on the northbound carriageway, going towards Nantes is one. It is so quiet, you can hear birds trilling and chattering to each other above the background whoosh of the motorway traffic.

Every second picnic table and bench area is covered, so visitors are sheltered from any rain (from above at least). If you want less action and more peace, this is a good place to come. And here there are places where those with too much energy can plough through the long grass.


aire de grissay

And going south, facing the aire de Sainte-Florence is the Aire de Grissay. This aire has a very similar layout to Sainte-Florence, with a picnic area on a loop of road away from the parking for the sanitary area and telephone. Like Sainte-Florence, this aire is very pretty and very quiet.

Now a little gastronomic diversion. Go to a supermarket beforehand, and buy some supplies for your picnic. As well as fresh baked bread (pain aux céreales is tasty) and seasonal fruit, try the locally available cheeses. From Vendée are several tasty cheeses, try fleur d’aunis, misotte or herbillette (made from goat and cow’s milk). We also encountered bleu de causses, one of several good blue cheeses available. Bleu de causses is better than most stiltons!

aire de chavagnes en paillers

Going further north on the A8 is Chavagnes en Paillers. This aire includes a filling station, with a similar layout to other aires on this motorway, though not quite so pretty. It is substantial, so you can easily find more than adequate places to pause away from lorries and other travellers.

Then there is Remouillé est, small and empty except for the lorry park at the aire’s entrance. When we visited, the honeysuckle was better than at the other aires!


the Marais Poitevin - Poitevin marshes

The Poitevin marshes originally were covered by sea - the Gulf of Pictons. As the sea retreated, it left a marshy area that evolved, over more than ten centuries and with human help, into a mosaic of landscapes. The marais covers over 970 square kilometres, and three départements: Vendée, Deux-Sèvres, and Charente-Maritime. These marshes are only second in area to the Camargue, part of the Rhone estuary.

Map showing extent of the Marais Poitevin

Feudal lords donated parts of the marsh, from the seventh century, to local abbeys. The monks developed this land for crops, livestock, salt production and fisheries. They dug canals, channels and ditches to drain the area. This drainage and improvement of the land, with its development mostly for farming, has continued to the present day.

There are ‘dried’marshes, in the west and nearer to the sea, used for farming and animal breeding. To the east are the ‘wet’marshes, a patchwork of islets intersected by picturesque canals, nicknamed The Green Venice (la Venise Verte), the canals being filled with grren duckweed. Visitors can have a pleasant outing on the canals, hiring a traditional barque (type of punt) from one of several embarcadères, or piers.

The natural history of this region is very rich. There are over 250 birds that live here or who visit, over 80 species of butterfly, 38 fish species, otters, bats and 126 plant species, of which 78 have protected status. (Of course, what you may see depends on the season.)

Poitevin marsh. Image author: Gilbert Bochenek


end notes

  1. aire: in this context, an area —
    aire de loisirs: recreation area;
    aire de pique-nique: picnic area;
    aire de repos: rest area;
    aire de services: services , motorway (GB) or freeway (US) service station.

  2. We have used the letter J, signifying the English nomeclature of junction for access points on motorways/dual carriageways. The French name is Sortie, exit. However, as this would lead to using an unfamiliar (to Anglophones) letter S, in this instance we are remaining English.

  3. Bleu de causses originates from the Tarn valley and it production extends from Lot to the Aveyron and Lozère.
on first arriving in France - driving motorway aires, introduction
travelling by rail to and within France individual aires                                             
A75 autoroute from Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers and its aires Les Pyrénées, A64 Poey de Lascar, A64
A89 autoroute from Bordeaux to Clermont-Ferrand and beyond - aires Pic du Midi, A64
Hastingues, A64
Dunes, A62
Mas d’Agenais, A62
A7 - aires on the busy A7 autoroute from Lyons to Marseille Pech Loubat, A61
Port-Lauragais, A61
Mas d’Agenais, A62
Garonne, A62
A9- aires on the motorway to Spain Ayguesvives, A61
Renneville, A61
Catalan village, A9
Tavel, A9
A62 - aires on the autoroute of two seas three aires on the canal du midi, A61 Lozay, A10
Poitou-Charente, A10
A65 : the autoroute de Gascogne, from Langon to Pau Carcassonne, A61 Les Bréguières, A8
A64 and A61 - aires on the other autoroute of two seas  
A83 motorway in Poitou-Charentes - aires A63: the French Wild West, Bordeaux to the Spanish border - formerly the N10
A837 motorway in Poitou-Charentes - aires A20 - aires on the Occitane autoroute, from Brive to Montauban
A42 and A40 motorways - aires from Lyon to Switzerland and Italy A87 motorway and its aires in Poitou-Charentes

abstracts | briefings | information | headlines | loud music & hearing damage | children & television violence | what is memory, and intelligence? | about abelard

email abelard email email_abelard [at]

© abelard, 2010, 22 march

all rights reserved

the address for this document is

900 words
prints as 8 A4 pages (on my printer and set-up)