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Unexpected places

Top 10 of unusual holidays and experiences

In search of an unusual holiday or experience in the Vendée? Something a bit different or unexpected? How about lunch on the orient express, going dinosaur hunting, time travel at the Puy du Fou, a trip in a hot-air, or a tree top brunch… original and surprising ideas for family outings.

1- The incredible and mythical Passage du Gois

"Le Gois" is a 4-kilometre causeway, passable twice a day at low tide, connecting the mainland to the island of Noirmoutier. Curiously unique in the world, the Passage du Gois has long played the role of the umbilical cord for the island, until the construction of the bridge in 1971. The Gois is also known for an insolite activity: gathering shellfish, which is a local family hobby.

2- Totally insolite: winter sports by the sea !

Mountain sport activities by the sea is what takes place each year in La Barre de Monts/Fromentine! During the October and February school holidays, the seaside resort of La Barre de Monts/Fromentine offers unusual holidays and fun activities by the sea. With its 7 km of fine sandy beaches bordered by the Pays de Monts state forest, it is the perfect playground for sensation-seekers. Dog sledding and snowshoe walking take place on the same beach as land sailing and kitesurfing.
Activities offered include dogsled rides, carriage rides, twilight snowshoeing, treasure hunts, mountain patisserie workshops, roller-skiing lessons...

3- Have lunch in the restaurant car of the "Orient Express”

Who has not at one time dreamed of being one of the lucky people to travel on the Orient Express, whose name epitomizes luxury, travel, insolite and adventure? Take a trip, have lunch or dinner on board in an authentic restaurant-car from the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, who travelled across Europe with the most prestigious of all trains, the Orient Express.

5- An on-board aperitif or a treetop brunch

At the Maison de la Rivière, two unusual experiences are available. On Saturday evenings in July and August, guests can spend 2 hours enjoying the contents of a generous basket of local produce while drifting along the Grande Maine river. To go up a level, it is also possible to enjoy an elevated brunch, on Sunday mornings in July and August. After a 10m tree ascent, enjoy a couple of hours with friends indulging in your well-earned brunch.

5- Unusual holidays travelling back in time with Puy du Fou’s hotels

Voted the world’s best theme park, the Puy du Fou offers a multitude of spectacular shows. Each show is totally inspired by history and plunges the entire family into various universes, from Antiquity to the beginning of the twentieth century. For a complete immersive experience into the heart of history, why not choose a break in one of the 5 hotels of the Cité nocturne? It takes only one step to go through the gateways of time! Choose a period in time: Ancient Rome with the Villa- Gallo-Roman, the Middle Ages with the impressive Citadelle, the Renaissance with the Camp du Drap d’Or. Or the Iles de Clovis for the Merovingian era and finally the Grand Siècle and the royal court of the Sun King Louis the XIVth.

6- Jurassic tracks: following in the dinosaur footprints

In Veillon (Talmont Saint Hilaire) scientists have discovered dinosaur footprints dating back more than two hundred million years. An unexpected leap back in time, around every corner.

Between the Veillon beach and Port Bourgenay, more than 2,000 dinosaur footprints, remnants of the secondary era, have been recorded! This exceptional palaeontological deposit confirms the presence of a dozen species of dinosaurs 200 million years ago. At the time, large predators such as the Eubrontes veillonensis, a 3-metre-high animal with three sharp claws at the tip of the fingers, were found on the foreshore: but also, the Talmontopus tersi, an herbivorous species similar to a Cretaceous Iguanodon. If you do not know the difference, ask your children, they will know!

7- Become a falconer for a day, a Puy du Fou immersive experience

Visitors to the Grand Parc will be able to enjoy unique experiences with the Puy de Fou® teams. Discover the secrets of their birds of prey with "Le Voyage au Cœur de la Fauconnerie", an original and unusual discovery workshop open to all ages. To participate in this experience, you need to spend the night at the Cité Nocturne (in one of the park hotels). This activity is available every day (in green and yellow calendar periods) from April to June, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in July and August.

8- The Bocage and the Marais poitevin in a hot-air balloon

As free as a bird, floating gently over the Marais poitevin and the rolling hills around Puy du Fou®. Explore this unknown countryside that arouses so much curiosity. Experience unusual sensations flying in complete safety. Drifting away on the wind...

9- Revive the unusual animals of Place Napoléon

Napoléon founded the town of La Roche sur Yon and created its pentagon shape, which is why the main square is called Place Napoléon. In the square you will encounter 13 unusual animals made from wood and steel sitting in the water. It is possible to work them from panels located around this area. Rumour has it, that they have been brought from Napoléon’s secret collection acquired during his Egyptian campaigns.

10- L’île Penotte, insolite artistic seashell murals covering the walls

Known during the Revolution as the "Lost Island", this unusual little quarter in Les Sables d'Olonne is an absolute must! The houses of these narrow and twisted streets, dotted with colourful hollyhocks, are decorated with mosaics made up of multicoloured seashells. This beautiful pedestrian area is the work of local artist Madame Arnaud-Aubin, "a Dame aux coquillages". Inspired by mythology, fairy tales, fantastic tales... she makes them with shells: bulots, bigorneaux, oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, and exotic shells. An absolute must!