Drive straight in to a walled garden with lawns, cedars and acacias, within strolling distance of Coulon, the prettiest village of the Marais Poitevin. These two gîtes, converted from a long barn, have their own entrances and a beautiful, bright, contemporary feel. La Colomberie has views over the pool, a cosy wood-burning stove in the sitting room and an antique dresser crammed with books; south-facing Le Pigeonnier has a charming dining room and a sweep of tiled floor. Each for a family get-together or a group of friends, they have hugely functional kitchens with plenty of space and a friendly, sunshiney feel. Bedrooms are done in nautical or farmhouse style: shell pictures, white tongue and groove walls, wooden floors, super rainshowers, beds dressed in cool cottons. Marylyn and Anthony, consummate B&B hosts, are a delightful pair. The pool is shared with their guests but there are plenty of private corners in the garden. As for ‘Green Venice’, it’s a magical, watery region tailormade for walking, cycling, punting and birdwatching. Visit La Rochelle’s old port, stroll round Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Abbey.