Built at the start of the 11th century, Vouvant is the only fortified town in the Vendée, close to the 20,000-acre forest of Vouvant-Mervent. The setting was discovered by William V, Duke of Aquitaine, while out hunting.
The village lies between La Chataigneraie and Fontenay-le-Compte, in the Vendée, and the centre of the village is dominated by the 11th-century church, the Melusine* Tower and ramparts that overlook a wide bend in the lazy river Mere. The charmingly narrow streets house a host of artists' studios.
Around the year 1000, William V, ordered the monks of Maillezais to build a stronghold, a church and a monastery on this picturesque sight. Lack of money meant that the church was not finished until later in the 11th century, and then re-built in the 12th century in the Norman style with a Romanesque portal.
The River Mere has been dammed just below Vouvant by a small modern structure, and lower downstream at the Pierre Brune Barrage. These turn the river into a lake, which, with the old ramparts, make a most attractive setting.
The narrow streets and picturesque stone houses with painted shutters and flowers growing out of the roadside and in pots make this an idyllic village to just stroll around or sit at one of the bars or cafés and just take in its easy-going ways.
For anyone wanting to go for a walk, there are well marked trails, details of which are available at the tourist office just below the Ramparts.
*There is an interesting story about the history of Mélusine, here.