1 - The two faces of the Vendée

The sea, the countryside and living heritage : it's all of these that make the Vendée great !


Sandy beachesFirst, and best-known, are those long (140 km), sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, which characterise the Vendée's seaside resorts. These have long been family favourites for their safety and for the great variety of activities they offer.

Offshore lie the islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu. Their whitewashed houses, coloured shutters and Mediterraneanstyle vegetation add a touch of elegance, a special style so dear to island-lovers.

The seaside is, of course, the place for yacht racing - in which the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d'Olonne (next departure: 8th November 2020), is the undisputed world leader. Surfers and kite-surfers head for the "spots" around Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, site of regular international championships.

Marais poitevinThe Vendée's architecture ranges from Romanesque churches and medieval castles to fishermen's cottages and tiny thatched farmhouses. The 12th-century abbeys of Maillezais and Nieul sur l'Autise stand on the fringes of the tranquil "Venise Verte", or "Green Venice", a charming rural landscape in the heart of Marais poitevin.

For those who prefer a world without cars, it's easy to take to simpler modes of transport such as a horse, a bike, or simply one's feet. Today, 1,800km of cycleways lead to every corner, from Fontenay le Comte (Ville d'Art et d'Histoire) to Mervent (legendary domain of the French fairy Mélusine), and from the marais poitevin northward to the unmissable theme park of the Puy du Fou®.

AOC WineThe gastronomic reputation of the Vendée rests on the fine sea-salt known as "fleur de sel" and the delicate "Bonnotte" potato; on the delicious prune sweets called "min-mins"; on "mogettes", the cooked white beans that often accompany local ham; and on magnificent giant brioches. The picture would not be complete without mentioning the wild sloes that flavour the local aperitif Troussepinette, and of the vineyards that produce the AOC wines of Brem, Vix, Mareuil, Pissotte and Chantonnay.
 

16 places of visit to discover with your family:

Coastline

- La Route du Sel in Sallertaine
- Explora Parc in Saint Jean de Monts
- Le Grand Défi in Saint Julien des Landes
- Les Salines in Les Sables d'Olonne
- Indian Forest in Moutiers les Mauxfaits
- O'Gliss Park in Le Bernard

Heart of the Vendée

- Chocolate museum in La Roche-sur-Yon
- Haras de la Vendée in La Roche-sur-Yon
- Historial de la Vendée in Les Lucs sur Boulogne

The Marais poitevin

- Natur'Zoo in Mervent
- Château de Terre-Neuve in Fontenay le Comte
- Nieul sur l'Autise abbey
- Maillezais abbey

The Bocage

- Château de Tiffauges
- Puy du Fou®

In Les Epesses

- Logis de la Chabotterie in Montréverd