Today was the UNESCO man and biosphere accredited 22,000+ hectare Maison du Marais experience.
This region is comprises of marshes throughout which small channels run, all fed by the Aa or canal d’Aa. In operation since 13th century and the only French marsh to undergo continual cultivation,
it is in this fertile landscape that generations of people have earned their livelihoods.
What a history this region had. More than a millennium ago, the Benedictines realised what a boon this marshland could be and commenced the process of its draining, thereby creating strips of land connected by a maze of channels.
Bob and I had a delightful excursion upon one of the traditional flat bottomed boats constructed by the last of the marshland’s boat builders.
Ponds created from the old peat bogs, reed beds, meadows, marsh and woodland with their animal life are all here: it is difficult to believe modern human habitation is only metres away.
- The landscape is formed by the region’s geography: coastal plain, the land of Flanders, and the Artois hills.
- There are 69,000 residents
- Wateringues, or water management canals, assist in the prevention and management of flood waters.
- In total, there is 700km of canals, 300 species of plants, in excess of 200 species of bird and 26 fish species.
- Today, there are 440 hectares of market gardens in which close to 50 varieties of vegetables are cultivated.