The Vendée is one of the 5 departments (counties) of the region Pays de la Loire, and, with more than 250 km of coastline and a vast array of different beaches, it is one of the famous holiday regions of France. Originally a poor and under-developed region, the Vendée has evolved and became one of the most visited holiday area in Europe with a lot of new touristic activities. Fortunately, small villages, like Brétignolles sur Mer or Brèm sur Mer, kept their original charm and French way of life. Other well-known sites, like Saint Jean de Monts, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie , Les Sables d’Olonne or La Tranche are better known, but also more crowded and expensive .
La Roche sur Yon is the capital of the department. The city was created by Napoléon, who also established one of the famous and oldest stud farms of France, Le Haras de la Roche.
A very exciting experience and a must-see on everyone’s list is to cross the sea at low tide from Beauvoir sur Mer to the Noirmoutier-island , to discover the famous sea-land aquarium and the very famous beach of “La Plage des Demoiselles”. The island can only be reached over a bridge at high tide, as the road will otherwise be flooded . Please check tide calendar and schedule to be safe.
The lake “Lac du Jaunay” is waiting for angler, walkers or mountain bikers, the smaller “Lac du Gué Gorand” in Givrand is a nice place to walk, especially during broom blossom. It takes around one hour to walk round the lake.
You can enjoy a visit to Les Sables d’Olonne, with its famous zoo and the old salines, or a trip on canoe through the drainage ducts, or a walk through the district of the Ile Penotte to discover the houses with shell decoration. Fans of sailing will know Les Sables d’Olonne as the starting point of the sail regatta “Vendée Globe”, the single man regatta around the world, starting every 4 years, the next start being in November 2020.
2 x 18 holes golf grounds are waiting for avid players, Golf des Fontenelles in L’Aiguillon sur Vie (15 km) and in Les Sables d’Olonne, Golf des Olonnes (16 km).
Another interesting day trip is a sea trip to Ile d’Yeu from Saint Gilles Croix de Vie harbour. This island has a special micro-climate, with rare plants and flowers. As many owners of holiday houses brought their old cars to the island and leave them there, a lot of collectors’ cars are on site. The best way to discover the island is to rent a bike and a lot of bike shops are located at landing stage.
Children may be interested in visiting “La folie de Finfarine” in Poiroux, a park totally dedicated to bees and honey in a wonderful site, with an interactive exhibition.
Take children on a multilingual rally in La Guignardière castle in Avrillé or be part of a medieval show in Chateau de Talmont, owned by King Richard Lion Heart.
Enjoy a guided trip in Marais Poitevin, a marsh region, with small boats. This region is also known as “The green Venice”. Trips start from Chaillé-les-Marais or Vouillé, 15,000 hectares of ground with numerous ship canals to be discovered.
The famous amusement park “Le Puy du Fou”, around 90km away, is 35ha, a huge venue which offers a lot of leisure activities and shows with horses’, bird of prey and a revival of a part of French history during the revolution of 1789.
Also nice to visit are Apremont castle, the cathedral of Luçon, the harbour, the old town and the famous aquarium of La Rochelle or Nantes, with the spectacularly „Machines de l’Ile“.