Promenande en barque avec guide à Maillezais
Poitevin marsh,

The secret of fire on water

The boatman’s magic tricks !

It’s a tradition, with every boat ride in the Poitevin marsh, the boatman offers a unique show : the art of making fire on water with the help of its oar. But how does it really work ?

Everything begins during fall


In fall, the trees and plants surrounding the canal lose their leaves. They all fall in the water and slowly decompose. This decomposition creates carbon dioxide.

A layer of mud will form above the decomposing leaves and little by little, the mud will set methane pocket up at the bottom of the canal.

How to light the fire on the marsh’s water ?

Each boatman has his own technique to make it more spectacular, but it’s actually quite a natural phenomenon.

We will give you here all its secrets.

Fire and water :
a surprising show


Once the gas goes up to the surface of the water, the boatman will bring his lighter out and the magic happens, a beautiful flame appears. They will move along the boat and extinguish afterwards. Don’t worry, the boat will not burn !

The demonstration is even more amazing at night with the mix the blue, yellow and orange colours that reflect on the water… It’s just magical!

When the oar comes out


With his oar, the boatman moves the bottom of the canal and the mud to let the methane escape. This natural gas is extremely flammable ! If bubbles form at the surface of the water, it’s a good sign ! Some parts of the marsh are richer in vegetal than others, but the boatman will be able to notice them.