A – Ranton
Southeasterly, notice the houses of the village of Ranton built like as Curçay-sur-Dive on the slopes of the chalky hillside. Halfway west, take a look at Saint-Martin’s chapel, and below nearby the Dive, the bell tower of the chapel of La Bonne Dame de Ranton. This impressive building, built on the foundations of a very ancient sanctuary, dates from the late 19th century, the golden period of pilgrimages dedicated to the Virgin Mother.
B – Moncontour et Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes
Facing south, in the distance, spot Moncontour’s keep, a powerful medieval tower from the eleventh century and redesigned in the fourteenth century during the conflicts of the Hundred Years Wars. A stunning view from its 25 meters height ! Facing the fortress on the other side of the Dive, the abbey of Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes with its mighty bell tower, treasure of Poitou’s Romanesque art.
C – Collégiale et château d’Oiron
Southwesterly, beyond the Dive and its poplar plantations, stands out two impressive and remarkable limestone buildings such as the collegiate church and the castle of Oiron. The first one is a treasure of Renaissance style (early sixteenth century) whereas the castle is famous for its seventeenth century classicism and its contempory art exhibitions (international centre).
D – Butte de Moncoué
A little further south, beyond the imposing hill of Oiron, stands the wooded mound of Moncoué. On its outskirts are established many dolmens of the Neolithic period. It is the necropolis of Monpalais which still houses six megalithic monuments that sends back to the necropolis of Chantebrault on this side of the Dive, probably down the mound of Marcoux (5 km southeasterly, in line with Saint-Martin’s chapel).
E – Canal de la Dive – peupleraies
La Dive is a small river of 75 km long, sub-tributary of La Loire. It springs in Cherves, in the Mirebalais’country (35 km south, in line with Moncontour’s keep), then meets the Thouet at Saint-Just-sur-Dive, in Maine-et-Loire, after roaming La Vienne and Deux-Sèvres.
A canal was dug from Pas-de-Jeu to export hemp and various products of the region to La Loire. This 27km long canal, an unique example in the department of La Vienne, was initiated 10 years before the French Revolution but was only put into service for the first time in 1834. The locks, tow paths and works of art, together with river boat in Pas-de-jeu (79), are the witnesses of this river adventure which did not survive to the development of the railway system.
It is easy to follow the route of the canal by following the line of greenery offered by the poplars’foliage .
F – Saint-Léger de Montbrun
From here, spot the church of Saint-Léger de Montbrun, isolated from the rest of the village, on the mound of Montbrun. The church appears in the texts from 1122. The mount called « Montbrun » was quoted in 994. Around 1160 the Templars built there a small « house » that was burned down with the church in 1568, during the Religion wars. The priest of Tourtenay, who served the parish, restored it around 1822. From the Romanesque period only the bay of the bell tower and the choir remain. The simplicity of true faith places the visitor in the best conditions to enjoy the beauty of the Romanesque sanctuary.