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Legendary Creatures

The legend of Gargantua or the birth of the Marais Poitevin

It so happened that Gargantua was on his way from La Rochelle to Niort. Because he had been drinking heavily, he had to stop to relieve himself. Putting one foot on Luçon cathedral and the other on the bell tower of the church of Niort, he turned towards the west, and as he relieved himself, he flooded the countryside right across to the sea. And that is how the Marais Poitevin was born !

The legend of the Soldier and the Dragon of Niort

Described as an enormous amphibious snake coming out of the river Sèvre Niortaise as well as out of the nearby marshes or on the dry land. The legend says that the monster was killed by Jacques Allonneau, a soldier who had deserted and who had been promised grace if he managed to kill the snake by stabbing it in the throat. Thinking that the beast was dead, he took of his helmet which protected him from the snake's venom and that was his downfall, since the dragon poisoned him with its last breath. So they perished together. The legend refers perhaps to the “dragonnades”, the name given to the persecution directed in the XVIIth century under Louis XIV, against the protestants. In fact it was the dragoons, a corps of the king's army which was charged with the conversion using force of the Huguenots. In 1992 the local legend was illustrated by four bronze dragons placed in rue Amable Ricard. In 2011, they were moved during the pedestrianisation of the streets. In 2012 two heads were placed at the top of rue Ricard and two others in rue du Temple, in order to indicate the gateway to the town center.


Mélusine, a celtic divinity with a snake-like shape, means "marvel" or "sea fog". As a fairy builder, she worked in the moonlight until the cock crowed. If a curious person interrupted her she would stop her work. So, for example, the last stone of the spire of Notre Dame church in Niort is missing.

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