Activities guide to the Massif Forestier de Mervent-Vouvant

In south-Vendée where the rivers Mere and Vendée converge lies a hilly forest of some 55 square kilometers called Le Massif-Forestier de Mervent-Vouvant. It consists of accessible private and public domain and contains nine villages: Mervent, Pissotte, Bourneau, L'Orbrie, Foussais-Payré, Saint-Michel-le-Cloucq, Saint-Hilaire-des-Loges, Xanton-Chassenon, and Vouvant - one of France's most beautiful. The villages are mere dots, leaving 5519 hectares of dense forest featuring beautiful hardwood trees. Whether it's your first visit or your fiftieth, as soon as you step foot beneath their canopy and lay eyes on meandering brooks sounding like little bells, and the abundant carpet of wildflowers, realization will strike that this forest exudes something absolutely magical. Whether you live in the Vendée year-round or like to visit with the seasons, these woods hide a plethora of activities to please the solo adventurer, the athlete, and the whole family. Use images below (and the UP arrow) to easily navigate our guide, or scroll through.
A brief history of the forest –

At the beginning of the 11th century it is said that the Count of Poitiers and Duke of Aquitaine, William the Great, became aware of the rocky ridge formation surrounded on three sides by the river Mere. The area was an excellent point of strategy against invasion (of the Normans at the time).

Together with the Abbot Théodelin de Maillezais, William ordered the construction of a church, a monastery, and a fortified castle (the very first structure would have been made of wood though) atop the mountainous ledge at Vouvant.

This ensured control over the Bas-Poitou area and the great forest on the other side of the river. Eventually there were several fortified castles in the surrounding area, remnants of which exist in Vouvant, Mervent, Bourneau etc.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), First Minister of State under King Louis XIV from 1661 until his death in 1683, developed the Mervent - Vouvant forest as a Royal Domain. Then called le Forêt Royale de Vouvant, this forest served for tree harvesting to supply the Rochefort Arsenal building of France's vast navy fleet. After the revolution, the forest became the Imperial Forest of Vouvant. It wasn't until 1965 that the name changed to Forêt-Masif de Mervent-Vouvant.

Remarkable trees –

Jean-Baptiste Colbert was aware that harvesting century-old oaks would become problematic for the future of the forest and planted new ones. There is one tree remaining from the 17th century, named the Mariner oak. It is thirty meters high and classified in the National Forest Inventory. Other remarkable trees to discover in the forest are the Hermit's oak, and the five-trunk oak. The latter is quite unusual as it developed five stems from the same bole. After the tree died (1996), artist Sébastien Krampe transformed "the five twins"  into an exquisite sculpture that seems lifted from a fantasy story and planted here to put a definite stamp of enchantment on the forest.

Aerial image credit – Alexandre Lamoureux

equipment rentals and base de loisirs in the mervent forest
Open year-round

Base de loisirs Mervent
Make reservations for equipment and/or opportunities to learn a new discipline such as archery. The leisure center on the banks of the Mervent lake offers the opportunity to rent a bike, paddle board, canoe, kayak, electric boat, sailing dinghy, and learn archery, climbing, mountain biking, orienteering, etc.
Open year-round (off season by reservation) – website
Address –  150 route touristique, 85200 Mervent

Telephone – (033) 02.51.00.22.13
Email – basedeloisirs@fontenayvendee.fr
Online reservations – here or here (includes opening hours)
Directions – enter your point of departure
GPS coordinates – 46.524238437083255, -0.7572130695686299
Other – pedalos rental (Chill-Out)
Languages – French and English
Groups – fill out the contact form
Tourism & Handicap – special care and services for the motor, mental, auditory and visual impaired. Most activities can be adapted and are provided with supervision (from 6yrs old). Most provide appropriate shoes and clothes.

Espace de Loisirs du Lac Chassenon
Located between the villages of Saint-Michel-le-Cloucq and Saint-Hilaire-des-Loges in Xanton-Chassenon offers more opportunity for family fun. Lac Chassenon base the loisirs features nice swimming area with sandy beach, waterslides, and games for children. Cycling, pedalos for hire, restaurant and bar, shaded picnic tables... A great place to spend the day or an afternoon with views of the forest.
Open seasonallyfrom 19/06/2021 to 12/09/2021
Address – Prairie de l’Aiguille, Route de Parthenay, 85240 Xanton-Chassenon
Telephone – (033) 02 51 69 83 74
Directions enter your point of departure
GPS coordinates – 46.487873829545926, -0.7071801182863642

the chateaux of Mervent Forest
Vieux château de Mervent

The oldest documents in which a castle is mentioned here date to the 11th Century (1018 and 1022) and was it probably a castrum - a wooden castle built on an earthen mound and surrounded by a wooden fence. The documents (charters speaking to a donation made to the Abbaye de Maillezais also mention mills and a chapel.

The stone castle of which we can see the ruins today probably dates to the late 12th or early 13th century, owned by the Lusignan family that also held the castle in Vouvant.

The last inhabitant of this castle would have been the Duke Jean de Dunois, better known as the Bastard of Orléans, a French military leader who led campaigns with Jeanne d'Arc during the Hundred Years War. Jean de Dunois was the illegitimate son of Louis I, Duke of Orléans and his mistress Mariette d'Enghien. His grandfater was King Charles V of France.

After the death of Jean de Dunois, the castle was forever abandoned.

Open  Ruins and park. A limestone tower, and some ramparts with towers remain, as well as the stunning panoramic views over the Mère river valley and the forest.
Local legend and folklore Read about the legend of the Fairy Mélusine in our article.
Address
 – Chemin des Douves, 85200 Mervent
GPS coordinates – 46° 31′ 26″ N, 0° 45′ 24″ W

The private châteaux
Château de la Citardière

Once wildly overgrown, this interesting castle was purchased by a young French couple and has gone through a thorough make-over. This historical monument, an unique castle whose origins rest in the 14th century, was largely destroyed in the Wars of Religion.

What you see today largely dates to the 17th century. The impressive castle including square defensive towers, large artillery room, and courtyard make it, in its current life, an ideal wedding and events venue. A double arched narrow bridge connects to the entrance of the chateau, which is surrounded by a beautiful moat.

Open  Private property, not open to the public. You can catch a glimpse from the street.
Address Chemin de Chantoiseau, 85200 Mervent
GPS coordinates – 46° 32′ 03″ N, 0° 44′ 24″ W
Website – Château de la Citardière
Social Media Instagram

Château de Bourneau

This lovely Renaissance château was constructed in 1863 on the foundations of a medieval fortified castle dating back to 1464. You might recognize its architectural inspirations in Château Azay-le-Rideau and Château d’Anet in the Loire Valley. Château de Bourneau is now a private family home and events business, and includes holiday cottages.

Private – Catch a glimpse driving through the village
Events – The owners sometimes organize events open to the public such as plays or picnics. May be open for Journee des Jardins in spring and Journees du Patrimoine in September
Address – 85200 Bourneau
Website –Château de Bourneau
Social Media Instagram

Château de la Recepte

The Château de La Recepte was built in the 19th century on the famous medieval ramparts of Vouvant near the old Porte de Bouguerin, one of three gates that allowed entry to the fortified village. The park contains the best-preserved towers of the 12th and 13th century fortified wall surrounding Vouvant. Several of the towers have their original vaulted rooms accessible at ground level of the courtyard. The remains of stone corbels supporting the walkway are still observable.

Private – Catch a glimpse from the street.
Events – owners organize the occasional summer concert or picnic in the gardens, may be open for Journee des Jardins in spring and Journees du Patrimoine in September
Address – 85120 Vouvant

Château de la Baugisière

In the XIIIth century a castle was already located here. The current installment was built in 1741 by the knight Maximilien Boutou de La Baugisièrehusband of Suzanne Fleury de La Caillère. The current owners restored the chapel in honor of the wedding of their daughter.

Private – You can only catch a distant glimpse, in fact this chateau could easily be a part of our "Hidden Corners" article. The park is open to visitors a few times each year (e.g. Journees Patrimoine and Rendez Vous au Jardins)
GPS – 46° 29′ 01″ N, 0° 44′ 00″ W
Address – 85200 Saint-Michel-le-Cloucq
Other chateaux in this village include Chateau du Bourg, Château du Mazeau (see link for restoration progress), Château de Beaulieu

Images by wikimedia (Grignonniere, de la Recepte, Bourg) and inthevendee.com (Bourneau, Baugisiere, and Mervent)

chateau de la Recepte in Vouvant
Chateau de la Recepte
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Vieux Chateau de Mervent
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Chateau du Bourg
Château de la Grignonnière Vouvant
Château de la Grignonnière
Chateau de Bourneau in Bourneau Vendee Escape to the Chateau DIY
Chateau de Bourneau
château de la Baugisière Saint Michel le Cloucq Vendee
Château de la Baugisière
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A tour of discovery
Vieux Pont des Ouillères

Once the only entrance to Mervent, this bridge made of stone from local quarries was built across a shallow point in the Mère river. Its distinctive look featuring five arches, parapet, and four starlings on the bridge-face show some parts of the bridge date to the 13th century and some to the 15th. After the construction of the dam in 1956, filling the reservoir, this beautiful gothic monument became completely submerged. Attempts and requests to move it elsewhere for its preservation have unfortunately been refused. A local legend relates that the devil, exhausted from a long journey, sat on a stone downstream from the bridge and left an imprint.
Tip – The bridge becomes visible on the rare occasion that the reservoir is drained. The information we could find reveals that every 10 years or so, the draining of the lake and reveal of the bridge draws huge crowds, some traveling great distances to see it.
More readingold newspaper clippings (click to see image)
GPS coordinates – 46° 31′ 21″ N, 0° 44′ 54″ O
Directions to Vieux Pont des Ouillères enter your location
Image – by Jules Robuchon (end of 19th century)

Vieux Pont de Vouvant

Dated between the 13th and 15th centuries this bridge was a point of access to the Porte aux Moines (destroyed in the 19th century), one of the three entrances to Vouvant in the Middle Ages. The bridge spans the river Mère and has three arches, two with round openings, and one pointed, and has starlings to ease the flow of the river. The bridge became a historic monument in 1927. The "Pont Moderne" - the new bridge within a stone's throw (route RD31) was constructed in the 19th century.
Nearby – The old lavoir (laudry basin)
GPS coordinates – 46° 34′ 18″ N, 0° 46′ 00″ O
Directions to Vieux Pont de Vouvant – enter your location
Image – by inthevendee.com

Ponts du Déluge

This beautiful bridge was built around 1860 under Napoleon III. It bears the initials of M. de Villeneuve (engineer of Water and Forests) and was constructed to span the steep valley across the Verreries stream. It has a 202.5m long parapet and measures 13.25m high.
Nearby – Beautiful walking trails
GPS coordinates – 46.538600705901636, -0.7589108306836809
Directions to Pont de Déluge – enter your location
Image – inthevendee.com

Pont de Diet

The Diet bridge with its two round arches also spans the river Mère. Its central pier bears a medallion dated 1863.
GPS coordinates – 46.533850187731055, -0.7739245877159411
Directions to Pont de Dietenter your location
Image – Mervent85

Le viaduc de Baguenard

Spanning the Petit-Fougerais, a side-river of the Mère, this bridge was constructed to allow train traffic between Fontenay-le-Comte and Breuil-Barret. The impressive bridge realized by Ponts et Chaussées engineers Jules Dingler, Alexandre Prompt and Albert-Marie de Préaudeau measures 196m in length and 35m high, weighing 500 tons. Taking nearly three years to construct, the bridge went into service in May 1880. The company Daydé et Pillé was responsible for building the metal deck which was slid into place from the embankments across the masonry pillars. In 1944, the Allied forces meant to bomb the bridge to keep it from being used by the Germans, and missed its, killing a family that lived nearby. The bridge was in use until 1954.
Nearby – Petit-Fougerais
GPS coordinates – 46.56437905657387, -0.7979903019715032
Directions to Viaduc de Baguenard – enter your location
Image – Pmeunier23

Pont de Deluge dans le Massif Forestier de Mervent-Vouvant
Pont de Deluge
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Viaduc de Baguenard
Pont de Diet Mervent
Pont de Diet
Vieux pont des Ouillères in the Mervent Forest
Vieux Pont des Ouillères
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Vieux Pont de Vouvant
Fauna and Flora in the Mervent-Vouvant Forest Vendee
Fauna and flora

Species of trees that grow in the Mervent forest include beech, birch , cherry, chestnut, hazelnut, hornbeam, mountain ash, and oak trees indigenous to temperate regions in the northern hemisphere. The trees offer shelter and shade to numerous animals from rabbits to deer and wild boar.

More exotic species live at Natur'Zoo deep in the heart of the forest.

In spring and summer the forest is carpeted with a variety of wild flowers like wild Hyacinth (bluebells), Wild Garlic, Lily-of-the-Valley (Muguet), cornette (Common Columbine), Irish Spurge, Yellow Dead nettle, White Asphodel, Male Orchis (wild orchids).

Wild orchid, yellow dead-nettle and purple dead-nettle are edible. We have tried this delicious and healthy Wild Garlic & Nettle Soup but we recommend foraging for these plants in the countryside instead.

The forest of Mervent-Vouvant is listed as a Zone naturelle d'intérêt écologique, faunistique et floristique, a natural area of ​​ecological, faunistic and floristic interest.

Abbreviation for this classification is ZNIEFF.

ZNIEFF is a naturalist and scientific inventory program launched in 1982 that indicates a special bird conservation area and/ or a special protection zone for flora and fauna, a biological reserve established by inventory which forms part of the heritage. (Bouchardeau Law of .

Seasonal mushroom foraging is allowed by invitation. Follow Parc de Pierre Brune on social media as they will make an announcement in the autumn season.
Apps to try flower and tree recognition PlantsnapPictureThis and Google Lens

male orchis in the vendee
male orchis
wild garlic is great in pesto, garlic butter, and soup
wild garlic
wild hyacinth or bluebells
bluebells
dead-nettle-wild-garlic are edible flowers
yellow dead-nettle
wild columbine
wild columbine
White asphodel
White asphodel
Irish Spurge Mervent Forest
Irish Spurge
purple dead-nettle is edible
purple dead-nettle
Lesser Celandine in the Vendee
Lesser Celandine
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Greater Periwinkle
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wood anemone
Geranium robertianum in the vendee
Geranium robertianum
fishing mervent lake in the vendee
Daytime  -and nighttime fishing

Enthusiasts can fish for pike, eel, perch and roach from 3.2 km of shoreline, or by boat on the 128 ha lake.

Even nighttime carp fishing is possible and you will not find yourself alone under the stars. Night fishing is a popular local sport in the Massif-Forestier de Mervent-Vouvant.

A fishing dock and boat launch are accessible at Mervent, near the Valley Bridge outside the village.

All anglers must hold a valid, current fishing license. You can get them online here.

Boats can be rented for half a day or a full day.

Boat Rentals – Base de loisirs Mervent, 150, route touristique. 85200 Mervent
Telephone (033) 02.51.00.22.13
Emailbasedeloisirs@fontenayvendee.fr
Online reservations here or here
Languages – French and English
Directions to boat launch and parkingenter your point of departure
GPS coordinates – 46.524238437083255, -0.7572130695686299
More fishing info on our website 
Image - pixabay

foret massif de mervent vouvant par cheval on horseback
From easy to hard loops -

The Mervent-Vouvant forest features 150 km of marked equestrian paths between St Maurice des Noues and Fontenay le Comte offering a multitude of difficulty levels, geographical terrain and vistas that morph with the seasons.

The circuits in the forest massif are marked with a yellow horseshoe. DO bring a map. It's possible to cross other circuits and find yourself on another loop. Circuits may be shared with other visitors of the forest.

Local equestrian companies (e.g. Saint Maurice des Noues Ferme Equestre) offer excursions. Please contact them for schedules and more information.

Easy circuits include:

Difficult circuits include:

Open – Open all year
Parkings – Please consult included links for nearby parkings 
Image – pixabay

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Breathtaking tranquility

The Vendée's largest forest offers an array of activities, but the most popular among locals are probably hiking and mountain biking. Year-round, the forest is a peaceful haven, a protected nature reserve that shines its enchanted spirit everywhere you cast your eyes.

From naked trees in the winter, to their chartreuse awakening, from the birth of wildflowers in spring, to welcome shade in the summer heat, and a breathtaking pallet of fall colours...

... the forest never fails to cast a magic spell and you will find yourself wondering if the Fairy Mélusine still breathes among the trees?

Open – all year round
Link to hiking and mountain biking trails –
in the forest (from easy to hard)
Address – 85200 Mervent

Popular walk (easy) – Le Petit Maillezais 5km around the lake, a walk of approximately 1h45m
Picnic areas there are 63+ picnic aread in and around the forest. Here is a list
Images – by inthevendee.com except intro image courtesy of Vendée Expansion/ Julien Gazeau

Printemps au Massif Forestier de Mervent-Vouvant en Vendee
SPRING FLOWERS NEAR PONT DE DELUGE
Footbridge Forest Massif de Mervent Vouvant
WINTER IN THE FOREST
Forest Massif de Mervent Vouvant
LONG SHADOWS IN THE FOREST
The trail Le Petit Maillezais is 5km long around the lake
LE PETIT MAILLEZAIS TRAIL FROM CASTLE (spring)
Winter walks through Mervent Forest in Vendee
AUTUMN IN THE FOREST
Mervent forest walking paths are marked but not all are loops
TRAILS ARE MARKED
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MOUNTAIN BIKING ALL YEAR ROUND IN THE MERVENT FOREST
Natur Zoo in Mervent-Vouvant forest

Natur'Zoo de Mervent Animal Park

Natur'Zoo is an animal park ideal for a leisurely family outing in the Mervent-Vouvant forest.

The zoo features over 300 animals of the bird, reptile, mammal variety including lions from Angola, meerkats and, in a nutshell, 60 species from all five continents.

The zoo is involved in conservation and environmental projects at European level.

Included in the price of your ticket from April to September, on weekends, public holidays and every day during school vacations (depending on zone and weather), are the interactions between caretakers and animals during feeing time. For the little ones there is a mini petting farm with goats, donkeys, chickens, alpacas and guinea pigs. There is also a playground with a monkey bridge, a zip line, slides and swings.

Special program for junior caretakers from 10 to 14yrs old. Activities include the preparation of food for the animals, feeding and preparation of enrichment games for the animals, and a visit behind the scenes.

There is an extra cost for this and with limited places reservations are necessary. Practical information here. You can register your child for the 2021 season via email contact@naturzoomervent.com.

Open – schedule
Tip – Follow the zoo on social media Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with announcements
Address – Le Gros Roc, 85200 Mervent

GPS coordinates – 46° 30′ 40″ N, 0° 44′ 46″ W
Directions - enter your starting location
Websitehere

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Pierre Brune amusement park in Mervent
Pierre-Brune amusement park

In the heart of the Mervent Forest lies a 12-acre recreational area.

Don't expect hair raising roller coasters here! Instead the park invites to a day of good old-fashioned amusement park fun the whole family can enjoy.

It is centered around a little train which has choo-chooed many families around since 1959.

Enjoy the trampolines, merry-go-round, a zipline, bungee jump, bumper boats, mini-golf course, and a new toboggan of some 50 meters, 6 bumps and 4 lanes! In short,  including this is a fun park featuring over 40 different games and animations to delight children, parents and grandparents, in the natural setting of a densely wooded forest.

There is also a mini-park for the littlest guests to enjoy.

Lunch can be purchased at the Snack-Bar du Voltigeur. Options include steak-frites, grilled sandwiches, homemade burgers, pancakes, waffles, sundaes and drinks. Picnics can be enjoyed at Café de la Grotte at the entrance to the Park. 

Open – schedule
Follow the park on Facebook and Instagram social media to be kept informed
Tip – Cyclists are welcome to stop by Café de la Grotte. Bike racks and repair kits are available.
Address – Lieu-dit Pierre Brune, 85200 Mervent

GPS coordinates – 47°10′53″N 0°03′06″E
Directions to the parkenter your starting location
Website here

religious monuments Mervent

Worth a look

Throughout the forest there are several religious monuments and places of pilgrimage. The most important is the Grotto of Père de Montfort, a humble missionary preacher born on January 23, 1673 in Brittany. who notably retreated to the grotto in solitude and prayer in June, September and October 1718. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave because he had cut down some trees in the royal forest without asking for permission.

Père de Montfort died of pleurisy in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, a village known as 'the holy city' north in the department, where he was buried. Upon his death, the grotto in the Mervent forest became a popular pilgrimage where mass is still held on occasion.

Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was canonized in 1947, becoming a patron saint of preachers.

In addition to the grotto, there is a statue, a cavalry and a chapel dedicated to him in the forest.

Open  Year-round
Tip – you can park nearby, then navigate a set of steep stairs set in hillside down to the grotto. 
Trail loop moderate difficulty level, departs from Père Montfort Cave in a 10km loop. Info and map
Address
  85200 Mervent
Grotto GPS coordinates – 46.54273808716116, -0.781222092795896
Directions to Grottoenter your starting point 

Chapel GPS coordinates – 46.54306356992825, -0.7803321198499235
Directions to Chapelenter your starting point 
Calvaire (Vouvant) – GPS 46.57089651639524, -0.7652018945712643
Directions Calvaire (Vouvant) – enter your starting point
Related article  more about Father Montfort who was later elevated into sainthood 

On the banks of the Mère river in Vouvant there is a replica of the Lourdes grotto with benches for quiet contemplation.

Grotte de Vouvant 46.57013761212017, -0.7668216476078926
Directions Grotte de Vouvant – enter your starting point 

Images – by inthevendee

Grotto pere de montfort mervent forest vendee
the Grotto of pere de montfort
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Cavalaire Pere de Montfort Vouvant
Lourdes pilgrimage in Vouvant
lourdes grotto (vouvant) 1958
rock climbing in the vendee
Vertical exploration -

Underneath the canopy of 30m oak trees the forest is enchanting but that vibe is penetrated by steep rock faces. The forest is located in the South Armorican Zone, part of the Armorican Massif consisting of a string of hills with granitoid rocks which can form in a tectonic environment. Yes, we do have earthquakes in the Vendée, albeit tiny tremors! 

In the Mervent-Vouvant forest, the vertical rockfaces are ideal for rock-climbing.

Height 40m
Open
  year-round
Address chemin de pierre blanche D99a 85200  MERVENT
GPS Coordinates – 46.54037638137914, -0.770221341866998
Directionsenter your location

Website – Pierre Blanche escalades
Contact 02 51 44 27 22 or 06 50 08 70 32
Ask for more info at Base de Loisirs:
Telephone – (033) 02.51.00.22.13
Email – basedeloisirs@fontenayvendee.fr
Directions – enter your point of departure
GPS coordinates – 46.524238437083255, -0.7572130695686299

Images – by courtesy of Vendée Expansion Image library

Pierre Blanche rock climbing Mervent
Pierre Blanche rock climbing Mervent
Pierre Blanche rock climbing Mervent
villages Mervent-Vouvant forest
Vouvant, a top destination in France

Resting snugly in the arms of the Mère river at the edge of La forêt de Mervent-Vouvant lies one of France's most beautiful villages. Its narrow streets demand a stroll to admire a colorful plethora of flowers that seem to burst from every crack in the pavement, and the 1000-year old architecture including the intact walls and towers of the city.

Vouvant is a village that seems to have been kissed by the gentle lips of history and tended by the loving care of faeries. Accept the challenge of discovery and you will quickly understand why it is inspiring to so many artists and is lovingly referred to as le village des peintres (our article to the painter's village).

Open – always open for a walkabout
Tip – many artists and art galleries; as well as the Eco-museum of the Maison des Amis de la Forêt an interesting museum near the old bridge featuring tools and art that has been in use by the same family for several generations.
Address –
85120 Vouvant
GPS coordinates – 46° 34′ 20″ N, 0° 46′ 11″ W
Directions enter your starting location
Images  inthevendee.com

Foussais-Payré, XIIIth century church façade

This quaint village was established in the Gallo-Roman period. There are several historical buildings to admire here but none so lovely as the church and fortified prieuré (currently the town hall). Both church and priory were established in the XIth century but saw much destruction and restoration in consequent periods. The church portal is nothing short of stunning even if some statues and carvings were decapitated during the 16th century Wars of Religion.

During the Renaissance, the village of Foussais was quite prosperous. In addition to being an agricultural area, there were spinning mills and tanneries, and a number of weavers. These businesses exported their goods to Holland and to Germany.

Open – always open for a walkabout
Not to miss – artisan chocolatier whose products will have you swoon! They also offer workshops
Tip annual week-long chainsaw sculpting festival and contest (highly recommended!)
Address –
85240 Foussais-Payré
GPS coordinates – 46° 31′ 52″ N, 0° 40′ 58″ W
Directions– enter your starting location
Nearby sightseeinghistoric lime ovens located just outside the village (private property but you can see them)
Images  inthevendee.com

Mervent, stunning views of the forest, lake and rivers

in the heart of the forest lies the village that bears the same name. Witness the beauty of the forest and the lake at different locations around the village above. It is possible to rent pedalo (paddle boats) at the lake shore (e.g. from one of the restaurants there.)

The Saint-Médard church is quite old and remarkable. The Nave with its two windows are part of the original Xth century church, and the Lords of Mervent castle (ruins behind the town hall) had the choir added in the XIVth and XVth centuries. Admire the clock mechanism, anno 1640, and still working. There is a stone font and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Open – always open for a walkabout
Tip – stunning views over the forest and river. Small grocery store in the village square.
Address – 85200 Mervent

GPS coordinates – 46° 31′ 23″ N, 0° 45′ 19″ W
Directionsenter your starting location
Nearby sightseeing Vouvant
Images  inthevendee.com

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Vouvant
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Incredible Roman portal of the Church Foussais-Payre in the Vendee
Foussais-Payré
Sculptures-Foussais-Payre from the chainsaw sculpting contest in the vendee
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Mervent
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Historic lime ovens of Foussais-Payre Vendée
Historic Lime Ovens in Foussais-Payré

The lung of the Vendée

Without a doubt the forest of Mervent-Vouvant with its running brooks, majestic hardwood trees, historic monuments, and adventure spots is one of the most timeless areas to discover in the Vendée.

Amateur photographers, sports enthusiasts or novices, solo travelers, couples, groups and families will find all they need for a memorable time in the Vendée in every season. Particularly in winter, the forest trails are perfect for hiking and mountain biking, as well as horseback riding. For these activities it is important to bring a map (or GPX) and water. Maps are available at the Tourist Offices or online.

Planning ahead: the winding roads of the forest are sometimes quite steep but they are well-paved which makes navigating cars, bicycles etc between the interesting features the forest has to offer quite easy.  You will have to set foot in the forest for spot-sightseeing e.g. to see the oldest and most remarkable trees, so it is important to wear good shoes.

Noteworthy spots are well marked with road signs and ample parking space is provided along the way. The small car park atop the Grotto of Père de Montfort is a popular spot for camper vans. Keep in mind that open fires are not allowed.

In addition to dozens of picnic areas, there are several restaurants and/ or places to enjoy an ice cream or crêpe are located in Mervent and Vouvant villages (and a couple in the forest). There is also a very good and very popular bakery in the forest where you can enjoy a coffee and treat on the terrace. Find a list here.

The Massif Forestier de Mervent-Vouvant is truly magical in every season! We hope you will enjoy it like the locals do!

Note: the popular pedagogic farm and camping is [temporarily] closed due to retirement. Hopefully new owners will be found. You might also find reference to a treetop adventure park, but it is sadly no longer there.

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