Best museums in the Vendée

Museums are not for everybody. We get that. Most would rather spend time outdoors while on holiday and perhaps museums invoke school trips more than family vacation. One of the coolest things about the Vendée is how well educational experiences while on vacation are disguised as super fun family activities. Many of the museums here have an interactive component in such a way that children learn while playing. As family time goes... they are opportunities not to be missed! Here are our recommendations (in no particular order). Enjoy!
Chocolate Museum

In La Roche-sur-Yon, very close to the big shopping center, is the beautiful chocolate museum of master chocolater Patrick Gelencser...

... and that is something you should not miss, especially if you love chocolate.

In this museum you go on a journey through the history and flavors of cocoa, from the Mayan civilization to modern times and everything in between. A true journey of discovery because, yes, tasting is part of it! 

The visit takes about an hour and you can see the chocolatiers at work between 10h00 and 16h00, from Tuesday to Saturday. (These times may change according to production needs).

Info & tarief – here
Access for the Disabled – yes
Dogs – no
Catering on-site – yes there is a shop and a place to have coffee
Duration of tour  1 hour
Adres – 38 Rue Paul Emile Victor, 85000 La Roche-sur-Yon
GPS coordinates – 46.69609450986997, -1.4266587906600443
Route – enter your location

Chateau de Terre-Neuve

Take your time for a tour of the important Château de Terre-Neuve in Fontenay-le-Comte. Built ca. 1590, its interiors represent some of the best remaining examples of Renaissance decor in France. The rooms are enchantingly cosy because. Six centuries into its life, the château remains a private residence. 

Terre-Neuve's most famous owner, however,  was Marquis Octave de Rochebrune (1824-1900). He created the 492 brass etchings for which he is so well-known and respected, right here in the castle.

Etchings of e.g. Chenonceau or Chambord with their incredible detail are still revered, and prints still sold today. The brass etchings can be viewed in Terre-Neuve's museum.

But this lovely castle in south-Vendée is forever linked with France's most beautiful Loire Valley château in another way. Some furniture as well as a few pieces of Moliere's stage were rescued from the hands of the revolution at Chambord and installed here.

Per French law, objects of historical importance rescued from destruction in the revolution and incorporated into another home like this, are to remain where they are and are not required to be returned to its place of origin.

Recent restauration at the chateau, a beautiful museum was added and the former kitchen was also restored.
Don't miss this beautiful home!

Open  through end October but please see website for schedule
Tip – special guide for children (only in French)
Address  Château de Terre-Neuve, 85200 Fontenay-le-Comte
GPS coordinates –  46.4628°N 0.8147°W; enter your location
Park Chateau de Terre-Neuve – superb walking and picnic spots
Images – by inthevendee

Ecomuseum le Daviaud

Le Daviaud is foremost a gateway for the marshes. You will go through its different facet, its functioning, its roots and the history of those who live here…


The wonders of this area will amaze you. Fauna and flora compose a colorful blend that give to the landscape a singular and unique character

Le Daviaud offers English-speaking visitors audio guides in English.

Open – 19/05/2022 to 07/11/2022
Info & tarifs – here

Disabilities – all paths and buildings are accessible to people with mobility issues. Wheelchairs and folding chairs available. Guide or service dogs are allowed throughout the site. Both audio, and sensory touch. Sign language coming soon.
Dogs – no
Picnic tables or catering on-site – yes
Duration of the visit min. 2 hours to a day
Address –Le Daviaud, 85550 La Barre-de-Monts
GPS coordinates – 46.879030518121446, -2.10530208534945
Directions – Enter your location

Historial de la Vendée

We daresay not just unique but brilliant! The ultra modern museum was designed to fit modular spaces and features a technical grill that overlooks the museum from a 6m height. The walls can be moved to accommodate different exhibitions and the museum is completely interactive, also featuring audiovisual projections, lighting games and shows.

Because the museum is located in a "sensitive natural space" the building was designed as such that it integrates in the rural setting, indeed it has a spectacular geometrical green roof! 

This museum is not only an architectural marvel, the only one of its kind in France, but features well-put-together permanent and temporary exhibitions highlighting some of the 19,000 artifacts of the department, as well as archeological collections found in the Vendée subsoil. 

Open year-round (except Mondays, and Christmas/ New Years day) and with a dynamic offer of exhibitions, the wonderful Historial de la Vendée is anything but a stuffy old museum. It is great to visit at any age and at any time of the year, and young children receive very special attention!

Open – Website and schedule
TIP Specific rate for camping cars: 10€ (1 entry + 4 hours of electricity and water recharge); reparation kits for cyclists 
Family visits and tours here 
Events – Night of the Museums (free entry) and Journees Patrimoines (September)
Reduced mobility access – yes
Dogs – no
Catering on-site – yes
Address –
Historial de la Vendée Allée Paul Bazin, 85170 Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne
GPS coordinates – 46° 50′ 45″ N, 1° 28′ 52″ W
Directions – Enter your location

Vendée Miniature - top choice

Imagine rural life in the 1920's in the Vendée. If nothing comes to mind, head straight for the Vendée Miniature museum where you are warmly invited by the artists to dive into an old countryside village built on a 1/10th sale.

Landscapes, buildings, trades, traditions reconstructed reveal rural Vendée 100 years ago, revealing traditions, the seasons and important events that eventually meet modern life.

The family who owns and operates the 780sq.m. (air-conditioned) structure are also the creators of incredible models, a passion project that took 16 years to bring to fruition.

There are 50 buildings, each meticulously constructed with authentic materials, 40 horse-drawn carriages  reproduced from real models. A miniature train with 030T Buffaud and Robatel locomotive and wagons totaling 2.65 meters travels around some 70 meters of rail. There are a mind boggling 650 characters and thousands of accessories. It is magical for the whole family.

Vendée Miniature is more than museum, one of the most beautiful miniature villages in France. It is also a leisure park located by the ocean on 12 hectares of wooded land featuring ample parking, a lake, picnic tables, and sanitary facilities.

Open – 01/04/2022
Info & tarifs here
TIP – pottery workshops for adults/ parents and children from 6 years old. From April to September.  7 people maximum. Reservations
Reduced mobility access yes. Site adapted to people with motor, mental and hearing disabilities
Dogs Generally not allowed. Exceptions: small dogs that can be carried (call ahead to be sure)
Picnic tables – yes

Address –50 Rue du Prégneau, 85470 Bretignolles-sur-Mer
GPS coordinates – 46.635959063209775, -1.869696927954006
Directions – Enter your location

Logis de la Chabotterie

The manor's restoration projects went beyond the interior rooms of the Logis where every piece of furniture, utilitarian item, and clothing is authentic, dating between XVth and XVIIIth centuries.  

The adjoining museum, too, about the Vendée wars is absolutely stellar!

In the house, the word 'antiques' does not begin to describe this incredible collection.

The tour, leading from the drawing room (where guests would have been received), through the dining room, the scullery, chapel, bedchamber, strategy room, the amazing study and attics, is well designed with unobtrusive, multi-lingual and easy to use technology as your tour guide.

Whilst nothing beats explanation by a personable, impassioned person, this approach does allow one to linger...

... and linger. The very detail of placement, from threadbare rugs to jackets casually thrown over the back of a chair to the ticking of a clock, makes you feel like an honoured guest just returned from a stroll in the gardens with the hosts not far behind.

The manor's interior envelopes the unsuspecting tourist in such a way they may not want to leave. More than a house, it's a real home decorated with precious items like the silk-panel folding screen in the drawing room depicting Chinese scenery, a unique guaïacum egg holder on the dining room table, ancient watering cans on the amazing scullery floor, topographic instruments in the strategy room, the delicately painted ceiling in the study...  every corner of le Logis de la Chabotterie, including the spectacular gardens, oozes cosiness.

But nothing quite took our breath away as much as the 18th century dollhouse, casually 'forgotten' in the attics. It is so exquisite, its colours seemingly untouched by the hands of time, it's impossible not to be drawn to it. Don't miss this beautifully preserved home in your quest to learn more about Vendée.

Open – Year-round, see website for schedule
Family fun – treasure hunt, adventure booklets and nature trail! 
Escape game –  by reservation - in French! Info here
Reduced mobility access – yes
Dogs – no
Picnic tables or catering on-site – yes, lovely park for a picnic. Vending machines in the lobby/ gift shop (drinks, ice cream, snacks)
Address – Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon 85260 Montréverd
GPS coordinates – 46.880089, -1.406092; enter your location
Nearby Sightseeing – don't miss the museum depicting the Vendée wars included with the visit!

Manoir des Sciences - Réamur

This wonderful museum housed in an old mansion in the village named for René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683-1757), the well known 18th century scholar who helmed the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris for some 40 years, is a kaleidoscope to the Age of Enlightenment, of science and experiments he lived in.

Reamur owned the manoir, spending three months at a time here to study nature and all its gifts.

The museum offers a discovery tour of the scientist's studies and inventions such as the alcohol thermometer (1731) which used the Réaumur scale as a reference for more than 60 years until the Celsius scale replaced it.

Also learn about the glass hive, chicken coop, metals, minerals and so much more. Enough for a family to spend the day. There is a reading room, natural history cabinet, a sensory garden that offers a brilliant window to the world as seen through the eyes of Reamur's peers, who were travelers and explorers.

Children learn while having fun, through touch, experiments etc. In the garden they can learn about insects, composting, the glazed hive which allows close observation of the bees (no risk to the children or the bees), and many chests containing a treasure trove of curiosities.

The workshops offered at the Manoir offer children aged 6 to 12 to carry out scientific experiments. If you have a child that is curious about everything nature and science, this is the place for them.

Info & Tarifs – Year-round, see website for schedule. Free under 6.
Family fun – museum and discovery. Workshops for children (ages 6 - 12). 
TIP* – annual chocolate festival with different guest countries & their cultures
TIP** – workshops every Wednesday afternoon during the schoolyear
Reduced mobility access yes
Dogs no
Picnic tables or catering on-site – yes. Coffee, tea, cold drinks
Address – 1 Rue de la Tour, 85700 Réaumur
GPS coordinates – 46.7188221356843, -0.8007448827962074
Directionsenter your location
Nearby Sightseeing – La Colline des Moulins, and Cheffois quarry are both excellent nature areas to discover.

Le potager extraordinaire - open in 2023
The Extraordinary Vegetable Garden, a beloved attraction in the Vendee, is a place where you and your family can dive into the world of plants from all over the world, and learn how to grow vegetables using different techniques. 
The approach of the Conservatoire du Potager Extraordinaire is to create biodiversity and save certain unknown and/or threatened plants from extinction by being fully committed to its continued use, whether medicinally or in the kitchen.
The association known as the Conservatory of Specialized Plant Collections (CCVS) was founded in 1989. Their goals are to:

There is a seed store on the premises, as well as the opportunity to taste and buy products manufactured from the garden.

OpenJuly 2023
Info & tarifs here
Gardening blog –  here
Dogs, picnic tables or catering on-site – no info
TIP – workshops and special events for children (e.g. Halloween)
AddressBeautour, Route de Curzais , 85000 LA ROCHE SUR YON
GPS coordinates – 46.664865716138365, -1.3579986387964393
Directionsenter your location

Mines de Faymoreau

In 1927, while digging a well nearby, it was a local clog maker who discovered coal by chance. It was an event that changed the socio-economic life for the region for the next 130 years.

It's difficult to imagine now (in the age of environmental alarms) that coal was once considered 'black gold'. In the minuscule village of Faymoreau, generation upon generation risked their lives to bring coal from the bowels of the earth, to the surface.

Those people as well as the history of environmental evolution embody exactly the reason why the mines of Faymoreau are interesting to visit at all ages.

The excellent museum is housed in the old glass factory dormitory created to consume the low quality coal that was mined, on site.

The glass factory proved to be a clever business pursuit as it allowed for the production of millions of bottles for the Cognac and Bordeaux regions, as well as jars and garden bells. Other companies that used  Faymoreau coal included the tile -and brick makers in the area, as well as the lime kilns. (e.g. Fours a Chaux in 85490 Benet)

Faymoreau was a hive of activity, at one point counting over 1000 inhabitants including migrants, many of whom Polish. But in 1950 the coal deposit ran dry. The mine closed permanently in 1958.

If mine settlements could tell stories, Faymoreau would certainly be one of them. The quaint old miner's cottages are still inhabited, earning the village the title of Petite Cité de Caractère® for its remarkable patrimony.

Also to see here are cultivated allotments, the stained glass windows by Carmelo Zagari in the Miners' Chapel.

A hiking circuit of 12km called "Chemin de la Mine" and a cycling path connecting with "Vendée Vélo" were established to highlight the area as an Urban and Landscape Architectural Heritage Protection Zone.

Open – 05/02/2022 to 06/11/2022
Info & tarifs here
ExhibitionIn 2022, the Centre Minier museum offers a delightful exhibition honoring the history of the mines of Faymoreau in LEGO® bricks!
Dogs, picnic tables or catering on-site – no info
TIP – apple farms nearby - get your apples straight from the source during the harvest
Address – la Cour, 85240 Faymoreau
GPS coordinates – 46.55529045676741, -0.6309563478220622
Directionsenter your location


Journey back to prehistoric times in this wonderful interactive museum housed in a large wooded park.

Activities and demonstrations include how to make fire, hunting, the transportation of menhirs, pottery workshops, face painting etc. 

In addition there are 3 exhibition rooms featuring media (3D, touch screens etc) to fully understand life in prehistoric times.

Open – 10/04/2022 - 30/09/2022
Info & Tarifs here
Reduced mobility access
Dogs yes on a leash (also in the museum)
Picnic tables – yes. Restaurant and shop off site.
Address  17 Rue de la Courolle, 85440 Saint Hilaire la Forêt
GPS coordinates – 46.44515119054863, -1.521510164615727
Directions –  enter your location

Musée Automobile de Vendée

Nestled between Les Sables d'Olonne and Talmont Saint Hilaire, the Giron family has created a beautiful museum that is sure to speak to the soul of any car enthusiast at any age. For more than 75 years they have been saving old-timers from destruction and restoring lovingly to ensure their heritage.

In a showroom of more than 3,300 m² , admire the over 150 vehicles (including 2-wheelers) with wealth of explanations, posters, models, and period accessories.

The Vendée car museum is definitely worth a detour!

Open – 01/04/2022 - 01/10/2022
Info & Tarifs here
Reduced mobility access
Dogs no
Picnic tables – yes. Restaurant and shop on site.
Address  D949 Avenue des Sables, 85440 Talmont-Saint-Hilaire
GPS coordinates – 46.519610644326654, -1.6469080060462014
Directions –  enter your location

Les Salines - TOP CHOICE

Discover the heart of the marsh d’Olonne and all of its natural treasures.

Boat rides take you to the Jardin des Salines where the salt workers mine their 'white gold' from the sea. 

On your journey, touch the secret routes the smugglers used to use (many centuries ago salt was a precious commodity), learn about the centuries old trade of salt, meet the salt workers, become an apprentice (harvest your own salt) and so much more.

The Salt Adventure Park also offers a unique look at the fishermen's huts of bygone years and secrets of the trade, bird life, fun and games, all in a natural setting.

Children receive the “Petit Saunier” diploma after learning to harvest. You can also rent canoes and paddle boards.

Yet another adventure park in a natural setting where learning while having fun is central to the experience.

Open  from April to the end of June and from September 1st to the end of the All Saints holidays. See website for details

Info & tarifs here
02 51 21 01 19 or online in season
Duration of visit – depends on your adventure package. Min. 2 hours
Reduced mobility access – yes, but call 02 51 21 01 19 (e.g. electric wheelchairs cannot go on the boats, regular wheelchair, 1 per boat)
Dogs –
yes, on a leash
Picnic tables or catering on-site – no
Address  Route de l'Aubraie, 85100 LES SABLES D'OLONNE
GPS coordinates – 46.51618176014869, -1.8049830021322286
Directions – Enter your location

Adult groups by reservation on 02 51 97 69 80