So you love donkeys – right? And you love France too? Of course you do or else you wouldn’t be reading this right now. So, let’s talk about my special Poitou donkey friend.
This beautiful Poitou donkey called Mascot belonged to our neighbour. She was always waiting to greet us when we walked by her field. She liked nothing better than some chopped up carrots and a good back scratch. Mascot was a true gentle giant and she was a Poitou donkey.
The breed originates in the Poitou region of France in Charente Maritime and is one of the largest donkey breeds. Poitou donkeys have a very distinctive shaggy coat called a cadanette which looks a bit unruly. The coat hangs in long, ungroomed cords that resemble dreadlocks.
On the Île de Ré – an Island about 40 minutes from La Maison Blanche there are some wonderful Poitou donkeys that wear stripey pyjamas! This custom relates back to the time when they were used in the collection of salt from the nearby salt marshes. To protect their legs from mosquitos and bugs, their owners would cover their legs with material.
Today these wonderful pyjama clad donkeys just give rides to delighted children when they visit the island in the summer months for their holidays.
In Dampierre-sur-Boutonne which is about 55 minutes from La Maison Blanche there is a Poitou Donkey Nature Sanctuary. Many activities are available for all ages throughout the year. There are guided or non-guided tours, carriage rides, hikes with the donkeys and there is an education centre where you can learn all about this rare breed.
Unfortunately Mascot is no longer with us but I hope you like my watercolour painting of her. She was a very dear old donkey.