If you’ve never visited the Vendée, it’s time to pack your bags. Nestled in the west of France, an hour south of the Loire Valley and a couple of hours north of the Dordogne, it has some of the best weather in France and a million and one other delights and charms which are all set to steal your heart.
How do you get there?
Our preferred route is via Eurotunnel and Calais, from where it will take you between 6 and 8 hours driving. The journey takes you down through Rouen, round Le Mans and Angers and past Cholet. But you can also catch the ferry to Dieppe, St. Malo or Caen which will shorten the drive considerably. Better still, you can fly and there are three airports all within easy reach of the Vendée, namely at La Rochelle, Poitiers and Nantes.
So what’s the Vendée like?
The first thing you might notice about the area apart from the fabulous weather and large open spaces, is that it’s very diverse. The Bocage area which rolls round the top of the Vendée and down the eastern side is known for its undulating countryside, historic towns and villages, fields of sunflowers, vineyards, sleepy rivers and woodland. Then to the west of the region is the Atlantic coast, with mile upon mile of unspoilt and often deserted beaches, fishing villages and holiday towns. The coast is both rustic in its charm and yet cosmopolitan too. Must visits include St. Gilles Croix de Vie, the islands of Noirmoutier and Il d’Yeu, Les Sables d’Olonne and La Faute sur Mer.
Finally wrapping round the southern half of the Vendée and spreading from the Atlantic coast to the department of Deux Sevres, is the Marais Poitevin, a unique and strangely wonderful marshland divided into to the dry and barren in the west and the ridiculously idyllic in in the east.
What is there to do?
Whether you’re a couple, group or a family with young children, the simple answer to that is, lots. The great thing about the Vendée is that it’s large enough and unpopulated enough for you never to feel like you’re treading an overly busy tourist trail, particularly if you avoid peak season.
It’s a region that is renowned for its great walks, cycling and fishing with hundreds and hundreds of miles of dedicated tracks and waterways. But it’s also rich in culture, history and heritage and there is an abundance of medieval and renaissance villages, churches, abbeys, castles and towns as well as a vibrant arts scene. For children and families you’re spoilt for choice with some really fun and also very unusual parks and attractions such as the world famous Puy du Fou, the Indian Forest of Adventures, water parks and much, much more.
I hope by now you’re getting a feel for why I love this corner of France quite so much and an idea of some of the many reasons to visit the area. Now all that remains is for me to tempt and tease you with my blogs and as together we take a closer look at this wonderful region.