Last Sunday, my sister and her little family came to visit us. Accustomed to the urban hustle and bustle, they aspired to go green. I immediately thought of Cenon-sur-Vienne which, from 1900, welcomed city dwellers in search of nature. At the time, the steamboat “L’Hirondelle” provided the connection from Châtellerault. The passengers thus reached the Pointe de Forclan to relax at the Mother Fradin tavern.

12 p.m. Picnic at Forclan Point

So I take the happy troop out for a lunch on the grass in this large park, with a view of the confluence of the Vienne and the Clain. While pecking at the food taken out of the basket, we remember the festive and costumed event “A Sunday 1900”.

In fact, we had already found ourselves at the Forclan point, two years ago, to relive the tradition of canoeing on the river. The discussion drifts to the pre-war era, when Joséphine Fradin was renowned, miles around, for her tavern and her goujon omelette. Wearing hats and boaters, the customers sat under the arbors to drink the little white wine. It was the Belle Époque. A scent of the banks of the Marne still floats today.

16 p.m. Captain for a day at the mini-port of Cenon

The teenagers are starting to get impatient: I pull out my joker by offering them a ride in an electric boat on the Vienne. Faces light up.

Philippe, the manager of the mini-port, welcomes us. Two routes are available to us: “ The first, very natural, lasts about an hour and will take you to the Chitré mill. With a little luck, you will be able to observe beavers and herons. The second, more urban and twice as long, is punctuated with bridges and beautiful villas. » After discussion, we chose the second in the direction of Châtellerault, since this is the route taken by the famous sightseeing boat “L'Hirondelle”, which I spoke to you about a little above.

Patient and pedagogue, the referent of Cenon mini-port explains to us the few safety and navigation instructions, as well as the points of tourist interest of our cruise. Because the main attraction of this activity, in my opinion, lies in the autonomy offered. We will be alone at the helm of the boat. No need for a license to drive up to 10 km/hour… This provides a real feeling of freedom.

Made up of 100% Ruban Bleu brand machines, the fleet includes four Scoops (7 seats), more recent and faster, and three Derbys (5 seats) with an elegant vintage look. We opt for Scoop to take advantage of the central table, very practical with children. On this hot afternoon, I appreciate the shade of the protective canvas (or sun awning in maritime language – thank you Philippe for the glossary!).

Only a few minutes are necessary to tame the slight gap between the human maneuver and the expected effect. My successful passage under the first bridge gives me confidence. Let's go for 1h30 of discovery of the Vienne valley… Very quiet, the boat allows us to fully appreciate the landscapes. Arthur, my youngest cabin boy, stays on the lookout for wildlife sounds. We respect the advice: navigate well in the center of the river to avoid algae, branches and fishermen's lines. There are many of them who tease the roach. Around them, majestic trees curtsy before his highness the river.

On board, all generations are won over by this soothing ride along the water, an authentic timeless break.

To know :

  • No reservations (except for groups of 9 people or more)
  • Boarding in order of arrival. The apprentice sailors wait pleasantly in the adjoining park with playground
  • Possibility of calling to find out the waiting time
  • It is not necessary to know how to swim as a life jacket is mandatory
  • Emergency paddles and telephone number for assistance provided
  •  At least one adult per boat
  • Children accepted from 5 years old
  • Lifting gantry for boarding people with reduced mobility.

Mini-port Rue de champagne 86530 Cenon-sur-Vienne

information: 06 71 33 21 84

Open every day in July and August, from 14 p.m. to 18 p.m. Weekends in June and from 1er to September 13.
Prices depending on the size of the boat: rental of half an hour (9 to 13€), one hour (15 to 21€), one and a half hours (20 to 27€), two hours (25 to 34 euros).

19 p.m. Unusual night in a caravan

After a snack in the Grand'Maison park, at the entrance to the mini-port, I accompany my sister and my brother-in-law to a hamlet near Cenon-sur-Vienne. Tonight, they will sleep in a trailer!

We go around the guest house to enter a lovely little private garden where the accommodation is parked. An imposing fig tree, a small vegetable garden, a well-hidden henhouse, a mini-pond recalling the proximity of the Pinail Nature Reserve and a greenhouse currently being renovated set the scene. Welcome, you are in the countryside!

Amélie and François, the new owners, moved in at the start of the year and took advantage of the confinement to carry out renovation and decoration work. “ We named the place Le Chant des Etoiles because, coming from the city, we were immediately struck by the variety of sounds of nature that reign here. We never tire of listening to the birds, the frogs... », relates Amélie.

Unusual question, they already knew a lot about it. In fact, the couple is melted by ballooning and organizes the European Cup Hot Air Balloon Hopes in Grand Châtellerault.

An invitation to travel par excellence, this wooden caravan makes you want to pack your bags there. My sister and my brother-in-law were among the first residents of Chant des Étoiles.

I climb the four steps, just to visit: a bed for two in the back room, a shower room with WC, an entrance-office that can accommodate a child's bed if necessary, and a mini-terrace. All the modern comforts are present in this cozy little space, including Wi-Fi. As for decoration, Amélie has found a retro clock, a rattan armchair, a dame janne… After being curious, I slip away.

The next morning, satisfied with the breakfast made from local products (strawberries from Oyré, apricots from Vergers des Savoies, etc.) prepared by François, my sister tells me that this bohemian-style accommodation generates a real feeling of escape. “ A bit as if we had gone on an adventure for an evening ».

The Song of the Stars

23 Route de la Croix, 86530 Cenon-sur-Vienne Tel: 06 09 93 02 76
Price: €80 per night, breakfast €7 optional.

See you soon for new bucolic escapades…


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