Discovering Vendée: Coastal Beauty & Rich Heritage | EUROtoday

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With its superb shoreline, magical islands and luxurious marshlands, the Vendée is ripe for exploring.

They name it the Côte de Laimière and with a median of two,500 hours of sunshine yearly, you’ll be able to perceive why. The pretty Vendée division, which sits midway up France's western coast, boasts 250km of shoreline, brimming with 140km of sandy seashores, plus limitless dunes and pine forests and two of western France's most intriguing islands – Île de Noirmoutier and Île d'Yeu.

© A.Lamoureux – Vendée Expansion


There are at least 18 seaside resorts dotted alongside the shoreline, providing all ranges of lodging from rugged seaside tenting as much as four-star lodges and nearly each water sport you care to consider. Les Sables-d'Olonne is the most important of those resorts and possibly one of the best recognized. Every 4 years this pleasant city turns into the epicenter of worldwide crusing as all probably the most competent – ​​and adventurous – single-handed sailors set off on the Vendée Globe, a continuous, solo, round-the-world race which is, most specialists agree, the hardest crusing competitors of all.

To the south of Les Sables-d'Olonne is the city of Talmont-Saint-Hilaire, with its oyster port. Close to right here you’ll be able to go kayaking or canoeing on the Payré estuary, or hunt for fossilized dinosaur footprints at low tide. Further south is La Tranche-sur-Mer, a family-friendly resort with lengthy, sandy seashores, surf breaks, a nature reserve and loads of children' actions, together with an amusement park, a swimming pool complicated, karting, horse driving and – on a lake near city – learners' crusing classes. The city is understood regionally as 'La Petite Californie' and when it buzzes with exercise within the hotter months, you see why.

North of Les Sables-d'Olonne is simply as inspiring. You shouldn't miss the coastal conurbation of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. A city of two halves, it straddles La Vie, the river flowing from the saltwater marshes of the Marais to the Atlantic. On the appropriate financial institution is the fishing village, Croix-de-Vie, whereas on the left is the previous city of Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie, with its cobbled lanes and tourist-friendly retailers.

The native hero on this a part of the Vendée is the common-or-garden sardine. To get an thought of ​​simply how vital this little fish is, observe the Chemin de la Sardine, a strolling path that permits you to discover the area's fishing heritage. Be positive to pay a go to to the Atelier de la Sardine, with its museum and artwork gallery and the Port de Pêche, from the place the city's fishing fleet units sail each day. There are loads of nice eating places with sardines that includes prominently on the menu. In spring the city levels a pageant devoted to this fish known as Le Printemps de la Sardine (2024 dates to be confirmed).

A couple of kilometers north of Saint-Gilles you will see one other fantastic seaside resort – the very fairly market city of Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Here, between the city and the ocean, are three distinct landscapes. First is the pine forest, with its community of mountaineering and biking paths, operating parallel to the coast with its nice choice of campsites. Then come the dunes, the place you would possibly see horse-riders roaming round. Finally, there's the seaside – the longest single stretch of sand within the Vendée, from the Plage de la Grande Côte within the north to the Plage des Demoiselles within the south.


Further north up the coast, you ultimately attain the Île de Noirmoutier. There are two methods to entry the island: most select the D38 highway bridge throughout the strait, whereas probably the most adventurous deal with the Passage du Gois, a spectacular 4.5km-long causeway throughout the bay that solely reveals itself at low tide. Keep an eye fixed on the incoming sea in the event you don't need to get washed into the Atlantic.

Once on the island, admire the fig timber and early-flowering mimosa, proof of the gentle microclimate right here. Tourism is the principle financial driver, however you'll additionally discover salt manufacturing, tasty Bonnotte potatoes and an abundance of seafood. At the Marais de la Bonne Pogne and the Marais Mounet, you’ll be able to see salt producers in motion.

The essential island village, Noirmoutier-en-l'Île, gives one of the best eating. Top of all of them is La Marine, the place Alexandre and Céline Couillon, who received their third Michelin star in 2023, ply their commerce. One of their signature dishes is the Erika oyster, marinated in squid ink and sprinkled with Italian bacon. Rather bizarrely, it's designed to remind diners of the disastrous oil spill from the tanker MV Erika that took its toll on this part of France's shoreline again in 1999.

The Vendée's different main island, Île d'Yeu, is reached by boat from Fromentine on the mainland. After a 17km crossing, you’ll be able to then discover on foot or on a employed bicycle.

MaraisSalant_Epine-Noirmoutier, © S.Bourcier – Vendée Expansion


As you'd count on with a maritime division, a lot of the gravity leads guests in the direction of the coast. But there are many inland sights to lure you in. For sheer drama and pleasure, head for what is taken into account one of many best theme parks in all of France. You don't come right here for the rollercoasters, as you do at Disneyland Paris and the like, however for the astonishing historic re-enactments which are so reasonable you’ll be left losing in disbelief.

Puy du Fou is the Vendée's high vacationer attraction and at the moment France's second most-visited theme park, welcoming greater than 2.5m guests yearly. It brilliantly brings historical past to life by imbuing it with live-action adrenaline. There are 20 exhibits in all – many with monumental units, actors and stunt folks
all set out throughout a 500-acre property close to Les Epesses. One of probably the most spectacular and bloodiest is Le Signe de Triomphe, which sees gladiator battles and chariot races in an enormous Roman coliseum. Oodles of stage blood spatter the sand and there are even actual lions. Elsewhere, medieval knights attempt to put one another to the sword, Vikings plunder villages and musketeers swashbuckle away. The latest present is The Mime and the Starcelebrating the Belle Époque interval of the early twentieth century and the beginnings of cinema.

“With their fast-paced action and spectacular special effects, our shows are designed to be like live movies,” the park organizers clarify. “Emotional impact is always central to the Puy du Fou concept. Whether the audience bursts out laughing, jumps out of their skin in fright, or has tears running down their cheeks, every emotion is present.”

A theme park this good is of course extremely popular, particularly in summer time, so be ready to queue. With army planning you can tick all of it off in a single day-just about however you'll be dashing between exhibits. Much higher to plan for a extra enjoyable expertise and stretch your go to to 2 days by staying at one of many six themed lodges. Puy du Fou is open from April till early November (

South of right here, stretching for 970km² – a lot of it throughout the southern part of the Vendée – is the Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park. This huge maze of streams, inexperienced swimming pools, hidden marshes and ruined church buildings is nicknamed 'La Venise Verte'. Created when Dutch engineers constructed canals via the present marsh within the seventeenth century, its a whole lot of kilometers of waterways are greatest explored within the conventional flat-bottomed marsh boats, which you’ll rent at numerous piers (piers) throughout the area.

Another enjoyable option to benefit from the surroundings is to leap aboard the steam prepare that runs from Mortagne-sur-Sèvre to Les Herbiers. Called the Chemin de Fer de la Vendée, it's a brief 22km journey, however as you trundle over viaducts, you cross the Sèvre Valley and skirt the sting of the Collines Vendéennes. Dine within the restaurant automobile or, in the event you're a prepare fanatic, be part of the driving force and learn to function the prepare. (

The countryside of the Vendée is dotted with dozens of achingly fairly cities and villages and for first-time guests, it's tough to know which of them to go to. A choice of probably the most attention-grabbing falls underneath the label of an affiliation known as Petites Cities of Character, honoring these with notable architectural and panorama heritage. Among these are Mortagne-sur-Sèvre, Mallièvre, Mauléon, Mouchamps and Pouzauges within the north, and Vouvant, Foussais-Payré and Rives-d'Autise additional south.

There are additionally loads of castles to go to, some providing eating places and in a single day lodging. Among probably the most spectacular are Château de la Flocellière (in Sèvremont), Château de Terre Neuve (in Fontenay-le-Comte), Château de la Barbinière (in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre) and Château de Tiffauges, within the city of the identical identify. It was on the latter that the infamous Fifteenth-century mass-murderer Gilles de Rais or Bluebeard, as he turned recognized as soon as lived. Now that's a ghost you wouldn't need to stumble upon on a darkish night time.

From France Today Magazine

Bike roaming – Le Mazeau, © S.Bourcier – Vendée Expansion




The A87 and A83 motorways cross the area. The nearest ferry port with hyperlinks to the Vendée is Saint-Malo.


Nantes-Atlantique airport www.nantes. serves London Gatwick, Birmingham and Bristol (with easyjet) and Edinburgh, London Stansted and Manchester (with Ryanair). La Rochelle-lle de Ré airport serves Bristol, London Gatwick and Manchester (with easyJet) and London Stansted (with Ryanair).


TGV trains run instantly from Paris to La Roche-sur-Yon and Les Sables-d'Olonne.




Vendée Great South

Les Sables-d’Olonne



La Tranche-sur-Mer

Puy du Fou

Lead photograph credit score: © A. LAMOUREUX, S. BOURCIER | SOLD E EXPANSION

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