In the leafy Deux-Sèvres and just 40 minutes from the Marais Poitevin, Pescalis is the only attraction of its kind in Europe, combining a nature reserve with international standard fishing.
There is lots to see and do whether you're an angler after some excellent fishing or simply a nature lover who loves being out in the countryside, spotting wildlife.
Over 150 hectares of nature reserve, Pescalis offers fresh water fishing for both the amateur and the professional. It also has the largest fresh-water aquarium in the Poitou-Charentes.
There are plenty of trails for walking and cycling. Or relax and take in the views whilst seated in an electric car, complete with commentary, as it takes you through the nature reserve.
Plus there are a host of non-fishy things to do such as tennis, swimming, and especially for children pony rides, farm animals to pet and a playground.
Come for one day or a few – there is a range of accommodation from holiday villages to hotels, gites and a campsite. See accommodation.
Enjoy a meal in one of the three restaurants – Carpe d'Or, La P'tite Cuiller and Saint Pierre. All offer traditional French food with dishes cooked with regional produce. Carpe d'Or will provide you with a picnic, or go shopping for provisions at the market which is at Pescalis every Sunday morning.
Fishing enthusiastes can use their own equipment or take advantage of the 'Pack Peche' (coarse fishing pack) which gives you all you need for a few hours of pleasurable fishing on your own, with family or friends. If you're looking to relieve those childhood memories of afternoons spent with a rod in hand, then this is definitely the way to do it.
Pescalis is truly a fishing paradise, whatever your skill level. There are 100 hectares of lakes to choose from, and you can fish for pike, perch, black-bass and trout as well as carp, roach, rudd, sturgeon, bream, tench and salmon. Fly fish, spin with lures, try for specimen fish or catch whatever swims your way! There is also night-fishing and regular competitions.
If you're a novice angler you can get on the spot tuition to help you improve your technique – and catch.
Pescalis follows a 'no kill' policy which means that all fish, whatever the size or species, are put back once caught – your memento of a catch is a photograph, not a dead fish! This also means that it is possible to catch some good-sized specimens such as carp of up to 18kg and sturgeon of up to 11kg. Pescalis lures are also designed to minimise the distress caused to fish.
The lakes are well - maintained to ensure excellent water quality at all times. No chemicals are used, instead a series of wetlands and buffer pools have been put into practice. As well, a lot of work has gone into creating habitats that allow the fish to thrive and reproduce, with special breeding areas.
And to ensure a mature and natural feel to the environment, a variety of fishing areas have been created, including those made from blocks of granite, scree, even submerged trees.
Pescalis also has a well-stocked fishing shop which is open every day from the end of March to the beginning of November. See the 2012 fishing rates.
Start your day at Pescalis at the aquarium. Then take a break for lunch - either eat at one of three restaurants or enjoy a picnic by the lake. In the afternoon, go fishing using the 'Pack Peche', or walk, cycle or take the electric car along the sentier des étangs. Children have plenty to choose from: pony rides, mini-electric cars & a playground.
SATURDAY, 10.30am: start your stay at Pescalis with a visit to the aquarium. Noon: time for a bite to eat at one of the three restaurants. 2pm: grab your 'Pack Peche', find yourself a spot by the water and get fishing! Or, if you prefer, work off your meal with a walk or cycle ride through the nature reserve. 5pm: time to check into your accommodation, before heading to the swimming pool for a relaxing dip. 7pm: enjoy a drink followed by dinner at the restaurant at hotel Saint-Pierre. Here enjoy dishes cooked with regional produce while you gaze upon the view of the Sèvre Nantaise valley.
SUNDAY, 10am: once you've checked out, head for the market which is here every Sunday morning. Stock up on your picnic provisions or buy a hamper at the Carpe d'Or. If you can, squeeze in a quick game of tennis, or take your picnic and go fora walk. Noon: time for the picnic! 2pm: spend the afternoon fishing. Or take the electric car through the reserve, or perhaps a horse and carriage ride. You could also play a round or two of mini-golf. Children can enjoy the mini-boats on one of the lakes and the farm animals.
The largest fresh-water aquarium in the Poitou-Charentes, see more than 30 species of European fish, including carp over 20kg and a catfish of 1.8m.
As well, there's a special tank for baby fish plus a pool that allows you to touch the fish. In the exhibition rooms, find out more about the flora and fauna of aquatic environments and children can enjoy exhibits and educational games. There are also exhibits on fishing techniques. It takes between 1-1 ½ hours.
Spend a couple of hours exploring the watery world of Pescalis on the 'sentier des étangs'. This well signposted route is 4.5km long and takes you past many of the lakes – see plenty of birds and other wildlife. Make sure you stop at the observation posts that are set in trees and reached by staircases leading up into the branches.
Opening times vary - check them out here
Route de Niort
Tel: + 33 (0)5 49 72 00 01
Aquarium: €8 (adults); €4 (children); under 6 are free.
Sentier des étangs: €2 (adults); €1 (children); under 6 are free.
Unlimited access for the year: €16 (adults); €8 (children); €38 (family of 2 adults and max 3 children)
Pack Peche: €40 (family) and €10 (per person)