Vendee holidays guideCategorized | Les Bois, News, Vendee

Vendee holidays guide

Posted on 26 July 2015 by

26.07.2015
Vendee holidays guide

Tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Loire, the department of Vendée offers all the elements of the perfect family holiday. Pictures and words by Gillian Thornton.

What to Expect

Most southerly department of the Pays de la Loire region, the Vendée is an hour’s drive from the airports of Nantes and La Rochelle.   But most families arrive by car – a drive of between 250 and 500km from the western Channel ports and around 630km from the eastern Channel ports and Eurotunnel.

With 140km of fine sandy beaches and 18 seaside resorts, the Vendée has long been popular for family holidays. Try Saint Jean de Monts which offers a wide range of child-friendly facilities as well as 8km of level sandy beach with no currents, and explore the maritime heritage of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, location for a number of high profile nautical events.

And don’t miss Les Sables d’Olonne, starting place for the legendary Vendée Globe race every four years. The town’s vast beach is lined with cafes and boutiques, and you’ll find all kinds of free events taking place along the sea front during the summer months. Turn your back on the mainland and you can also visit Vendée’s two enchanting islands, Noirmoutier and Yeu.

Inland, the varied Vendée countryside includes forest, wetland landscapes and more than 100 natural, protected areas. There are plenty of activities to try too. Play a round of golf at Vendée’s five 18-hole and one 9-hole courses, and enjoy a day at Le Puy du Fou, one of France’s most popular theme parks.

Cycling in the Vendee

If you love cycling but don’t like taking the family on busy British roads, you’ll love Vendée. The departmental cycling network now stretches for more than 1,060km, making it the largest network in France with quiet, safe tracks to suit all abilities and more being added every year. A further 1,000 km of circuits are organised at local level.

Must-see Sites

Puy du Fou – Thrill to five all-action history spectacles; visit the largest show stables in Europe; and meet more than 500 residents in the Birds of Prey centre.  New this year is Renaissance World, with four new attractions including a haunted castle.

Cinéscénie du Puy du Fou – Big is beautiful in this fabulous evening show (Friday and Saturday 20 June to 13 September) – 1200 actors and 24,000 costumes in a legendary 100-minute show.

Noirmoutier – nicknamed The Mimosa Island thanks to its exceptional microclimate and lush vegetation. Expect 40km of beaches and beautiful Belle Epoque villas, but remember that the 4-km causeway can only be used twice a day at low tide!

The Marais Poitevin – France’s ‘Green Venice’ is shared between the Vendée and the Poitou-Charentes region. Second largest wetland in France, its unique flora, fauna and cultural heritage is best explored on foot or flat-bottomed boat.

Marais Poitevin in the Vendee

Indian Forest, Moutiers les Mauxfaits – at 20 hectares, the largest adventure park in France. Expect zip wires, mini-golf, challenge circuits and a water jump that caters for beginners and sensation-seekers alike.

Hidden Gems

Heritage communities – don’t overlook historic towns such as Fontenay-Le-Comte, northern gateway to the Marais Poitevin or ‘Petites Cités de Caractère’ such as Nieul sur l’Autise, birthplace of Eleanor of Aquitaine and home to beautiful St Vincent Abbey. The ruined Abbey of Maillezais is another stunner.

Explore heritage towns in the Vendee

Family fishing – try your angling skills on lakes, rivers and reservoirs, or search for shellfish on high tide days when you’ll see pickers filling their baskets all along the coast. Then cook your harvest for that authentic French fish supper!

Logis de la Chabotterie – visit nine furnished rooms in an 18th century chateau at Saint Sulpice le Verdon. Discover the story of Vendée’s part in the religious civil war through a new audio guide and then relax in the beautiful park and garden.

Local Flavours

With so much Atlantic coastline, it’s no surprise that seafood is a popular feature in local restaurants, but Vendée’s combination of soil and climate – the famous French terroir – produces plenty of other mouth-watering produce. Try succulent Charolais beef or salt meadow lamb, poultry from Challans and charcuterie cured with salt marsh products such as fleur de sel sea salt and samphire.

Maybe start your meal with soup made from traditional mogette and Bonnotte de Noirmoutier beans, and accompany local dishes with an AOC Vendée wine. And for that final sweet fix, choose from a selection of small cakes, fritters and fruit pastries. The region also does a fine line in delicious cheeses with Curé Nantais and Trois Cornes two to look out for.

Front Page News

Recently listed as a GR by the French Rambling Federation, walkers can now tour the Ile d’Yeu on the 28-km coastal path now known as the GR80.  To enjoy just part of the trail, simply hop on the ID Bus service which runs daily from April to October, connecting Port-Joinville to the start point of your choice.  Or try five new short routes or sentes.

Tourist information from www.vendee-tourisme.com

Where to stay

Siblu’s Le Bois Masson and Le Bois Dormant sit across the road from each other, so guests can share the facilities of both, including indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, children’s clubs and superb evening entertainment. Find out more about our family holidays in the Vendée, or visit our website dedicated to buying a holiday home in the Vendée.

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