Vouvant patrimoine - Porte de la Poterne
©David Herbreteau


a history

Vouvant is one of the most beautiful villages of France and a “Petites Cités de Caractère”. The medieval city was honoured as one of the favourite villages of the French people. Discover the fascinating history of the place where the fairy Melusine is ever-present.

An ideal stronghold

On a rocky overhang in the forest, protected by the Mère river on three sides, Vouvant is named after the Latin word “volvere” which mean twisty.

Guillaume the Great of Aquitaine

The founder of Vouvant

Around the year thousand, Guillaume the Great, the count of Poitou and the Duke of Aquitaine, went on a hunt in the forest of Mervent. He stepped upon a treasure ; a rocky overhang surrounded by a river.

He decided to build over it a castle and a monastery between the year 1016 and 1019 according to a charter given to the abbey of Maillezais. That’s how the village of Vouvant was born.

The city of the Lusignan and the Fairy Melusine

Vouvant was the subject of several changes of lord during the years after its creation, until the prestigious Lusignan family took charge of the city around 1140. From the new castle and new fortifications they built during their time, only the Melusine Tower remains.

They added about 30 defensive towers to protect the village.

Melusine, the builder fairy


The local legend claims that Melusine built the medieval city in one night by herself.

The Romanesque church of Vouvant


The Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church was constructed under the order of Guillaume the Great. It was Théodelin the abbot of Maillezais that built it in the 11th century.

The imposing portal is divided in two parts: the lower part is from the 12th century with a Romanesque style and the upper part from the 15th century.


Don’t forget to observe the apse’s capitals. You will be able to see the fairy Melusine who is represented by a mermaid with two tails and long hair.

The Théodelin nave

At the beginning, the church was huge and was three times bigger than it is now. It had 9 spans from which three were destroyed, three others were renovated in the 19th century while the remaining three are dated from the 11th century.

Those last three spans now compose what it called the Theodelin nave where art exhibitions are organized by the association “Vouvant, village de peintres”.

The 12th century crypt

The crypt beneath the choir was only discovered in the 19th century. It was built in the 11th century, modified in the 12th and then restored after its discovery.

It contains the remains of various archaeological excavations like a Merovingian sarcophagus and a knight bust.

The fortification

of Vouvant

The first ramparts were constructed in the 11th century and were made out of wood and earth. They were replaced by stone walls in the 12th century when the Lusignan decided to build a new castle on what is now the Bail square.

The Melusine Tower

Constructed in the 13th century, the Melusine Tower is the only remains of the Lusignan castle. It has a cylindrical shape and is 36 meters high. This shape was new at that time since most keeps were squared shape.

The tower has 3 level with the first level being accessible with a ladder that could be easily removed.

Then, a stone staircase leads to the upper level and then on the rooftop where you have a fantastic panoramic view of the city.

The Poterne gate

The poterne gate is a concealed door that leads to Fontenay-le-Comte. It’s the last remaining medieval door out of the three that were previously in the village.

The path on the right of the door goes alongside the rampart until the bottom of the Melusine Tower. Don’t miss it, it’s a nice one to follow since it goes along the river!

Wandering at night through Vouvant also has its charms with its narrow streets and illuminated walls whose reflections can be seen on the river. All of these elements give a magical glow to the village.