Hikes and walking
The Gâtin countryside is revealed through its many paths and hiking trails which can be travelled on foot, by bike or on horseback, to satisfy globetrotters and nature lovers. Roaming, family-friendly trail, discovery circuit, geocaching... There is something for everyone!
With nearly 800 km of signposted hiking trails, two Grande Randonnée (long-distance) walking paths (GR 36 and GR
364) and 2 Grandes Randonnées de Pays country walking paths (GRP Marche Gâtine and GRP Thouet), Gâtine offers a wide range of hiking that allows you to discover the richness of its landscapes and to be closer to nature. Let yourself be surprised by these panoramas that change with the seasons and the light of day, by a ford, a mill or a chapel at the bend of a path.
Take your time, breathe!
Find all the marked hiking trails of Gâtine on the website http://randoendeuxsevres.fr/index.php. You can download free routes and descriptions.
Don't hesitate to ask the tourist offices for these routes as well as the circuits for discovering the towns and villages of Gâtine.
Gâtine offers more than 800 km of cycle routes from the Vélo Francette (link) to the Greenway (link) linking Parthenay to Bressuire via the Vélo Route de Vendée or bike loops girdling the region. No doubt you will find the circuit that will satisfy your desires for family outings or sports courses.
Discover at your own pace the riches and treasures of the territory
Find descriptions and layouts of these different routes on the websites http://randoendeuxsevres.fr/index.php and https://www.valleeduthouet.fr/thouet-a-velo-et-boucles.html
Consult our list of Accueil Vélo certified providers.
You can also ride on horseback along the paths of Gâtine thanks to the 120 km of marked equestrian routes. Find these different routes on the websites http://randoendeuxsevres.fr/index.php.
La Vélo Francette
This 627 km cycle route starts from Ouistreham (Manche) to reach the Atlantic coast in La Rochelle. The route was voted Europe's best cycling route at the FIETS show in Utrecht (Netherlands) in 2017 and in 2018 won the first prize in the cycling route by the French Cyclotourism Federation.
In Gâtine, it travels along the Thouet valley then continues south to reach Niort via Mazières-en-Gâtine and Champdeniers. How sweet it is to travel around our countryside and be charmed by its architectural and natural jewels! Wait no longer and take the time to discover this region by bicycle!
Bike loops are associated with the route to offer you a pleasant break on your tour and allow you to take the time to discover the region. Connected itineraries allow you to travel a little further and reach the neighbouring regions.
aise sur votre itinéraire et prendre le temps de découvrir la région. Des itinéraires connexes vous permettent de sillonner un peu plus loin et de rejoindre les territoires voisins.
St Jacques de Compostelle
Gâtine is crossed by one of the many European roads leading to Compostelle: the GR36.
Located on the side-lines of the four main pilgrimage routes, this route, maintained and marked out, is an ideal alternative for walkers wishing to immerse themselves in the quiet, charming hilly and wooded landscapes, and the beauty of the architectural heritage.
The Plantagenets route
Connecting the Mont Saint-Michel to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, the Plantagenets route is part of the Compostelle routes which were designated the first "European Cultural Itinerary" by the Council of Europe in 1987. In 1998, UNESCO in turn recognised the outstanding universal value of this path by inscribing 71 monuments and 7 sections on the World Heritage List.
The Plantagenets route connects Mont Saint-Michel to the Aulnay-de-Saintonge route. This path gives the opportunity to discover the many natural and heritage resources that belong to the territory: the Small Towns of Character of Airvault with its medieval halls and Saint-Loup-Lamaire with its castle, the pre-Romanesque church of Gourgé and its Romanesque bridge spanning the Thouet, the remarkable medieval city of
Parthenay where you can admire the fortifications and many half-timbered houses, or the Commanderie des Antonins of Saint-Marc-La-Lande.
The first tourist guide
A little anecdote about this trail: it was at the Saint-Pierre church in Parthenay-le-Vieux that the monk Aimery Picaud wrote the Pilgrim's Guide in the 12th century. This is one of the 5 books gathered in the Codex Calixtinus which is currently preserved in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In this book, Aimery Picaud warns the reader against bandits and ransomers, indicates the rivers with healthy water, indicates the relics of the saints that must be venerated and describes the character of the inhabitants. On this subject, there is no shortage of eulogy evoking Poitou and its inhabitants:
"By the road of the ports of Cize after Touraine you cross Poitou, fertile, superb and full of all delights. The Poitevins are athletes, good fighters, skilful in war, in the use of the bow, arrows and spears, brave on the battlefield, very fast in races, careful in the way they dress, elegant, spiritual, very liberal and generous hosts".
Discover Gâtine and its secrets thanks to Geocaching! Geocaching is a free activity, an orienteering trail in a kind of interactive hunting for treasure version. Equipped with your Smartphone (or hiking GPS) you go in search of the "cache", a small waterproof and resistant container where small treasures and a register of words are left by the players, hidden in an unusual place in the region. These caches can be anywhere: in town, in a public building, in the countryside... it's up to you to find them and declare your discovery online. These searches offer you beautiful surprises and allow you to discover the territory in a fun way.
Take on the Terra Aventura experience, a fun and interactive family walk based on the principle of geocaching! Together, pick up the clues and solve the riddles that will lead you to the treasure! You will explore the region in search of the "Grail" : the Poï'z, small characters with strong temperaments that populate the universe of "Terra Aventura" (badges to collect).Reference website: www.terra-aventura.fr
The Charter of the Hiker
RESPECT PROTECTED SPACES
In France, many remarkable natural areas (national parks, nature reserves...) are protected by regulatory systems. Learn about them before you set off.
REMAIN ON THE TRAILS
In nature, only the path is the territory of man. Stay on the paths to avoid trampling on species. Do not take shortcuts and respect fragile areas.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE SOLES OF YOUR SHOES
Without knowing it, we can harm biodiversity by bringing in the earth stuck to our soles containing seeds or germs originating from other natural environments. Remember to regularly clean the soles of your shoes, especially after a stay abroad.
CLOSE FENCES AND BARRIERS BEHIND YOU
On the trails, we frequently cross other people's property. Remember to close fences and gates after you use them.
KEEP DOGS ON THE LEASH
We consider them to be a friend, wild animals perceive them as a predator! For the comfort and safety of all, keep your pets on a leash.
PICK UP OUR WASTE
The best kind of waste is the one we don't produce in the first place. Choose the products you use. Pick up and take your rubbish with you. Make the choice to help preserve our environment.
SHARE NATURAL SPACES
Hiking is not the only activity practiced on the trails. Share the natural space with other sports activities and pay attention to other users.
DON'T PICK THE FLOWERS
They are prettier in their natural environment than in a bouquet. Do not tear off flowers, buds or young plants, but learn to recognise the flora and fauna in their natural environment.
MAINTAIN A LOW PROFILE
Wild animals are not used to hearing our noises. Keep quiet in order to have a chance of seeing them. Never touch a young animal, their mother will abandon them.
AVOID MAKING FIRES
Fire is a danger for hikers and for nature. Observe the regulations and in case of fire, call 18 or 112.
PRESERVE OUR SITES
Be a defender of quality for your hiking sites! A defective signpost, a pollution incident, a security issue... Contact the town hall of the place of the hike or the nearest tourist office to inform and help improve the situation.
CHOOSE CAR-SHARING AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Transportation is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Favour the use of car-sharing or public transport when setting off to your hiking start-point. Stay on the lanes open to vehicles and park in the spaces provided for this purpose.