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Tried and Tested: 2018 Journées Européennes du Patrimoine in the Vendée

OUR verdict is IN! Les Journées Européennes du Patrimoine are awesome! All it took was a little research & planning, a full tank of petrol, and our trusted GPS. Oh, and the alarm clock to rouse the family. What are the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine or European Heritage days? – Created by the Ministry of Culture in 1984, national museums and historic monuments are opened to the public for free or at a reduced rate on the third weekend of September every year. All weekend long, well-organized guided tours, animated demonstrations of old techniques, concerts, theatrical performances, and more, shed a special light on French heritage. We were intrigued by the notion that sometimes the public is given access to things that are not normally open. This year we tried and tested it for you in the Vendée. We’ll tell you where we went, what worked and what didn’t, and… how much …

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Tour de France 2018 in the Vendée: a photo journal

In the Vendée would like to thank Vendée Tourisme, team Direct Energie, Christian Prudhomme and everybody who lobbied to bring Le Tour 2018 to our beautiful area! In addition to the event itself, the anticipation and build-up started many months in advance. Children, the elderly, and other groups worked together to create a festive atmosphere in all of the villages. Roundabouts filled with flowers and painted bicycles were sometimes accident-worthy. The sculpture in the Roland Berland roundabout at La Châtaigneraie, which honours French cycling champion Roland Berland, is simply stunning! It was created by artist Renaud Création. Therefor we would like to thank the Vendéen volunteers, merchants and organisations who participated in and contributed to the event. From start to finish, Le Tour de France 2018 in the Vendée was a fun and beautiful experience! Your hard work and passion is appreciated. Merci! Share this Post

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A Day Trip to Oradour-sur-Glane

Truthfully, it was a bit of a drive from where we live near the Marais Poitevin in the Vendee, but Oradour-sur-Glane had been at the top of my imaginary list of places in the world “to shoot”. A poor choice of terms, I realize. But photoshoots in decaying, urban settings or ruins are actually “a thing”, even if amateur photographers like me must achieve their subject using dubious ways and the most unimaginable backdoors. The village, located in the Limousin area of France, is quite famous among photography enthusiasts. I’d say it is as coveted a subject as the fairy tale worthy, Neo-Gothic Chateau Miranda was (located near Brussels in Belgium, it was -sadly- demolished in 2016), or even Chernobyl (of the infamous nuclear disaster), though Oradour-sur-Glane is much easier to reach, doesn’t require bribes or radiation meters, and once you arrive doesn’t require breaking and entering. After a leisurely …

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A sail round the Marais Breton

I often write about the beautiful region of Green Venice to the south of the Vendée, so this week I thought I’d visit a region not well known to me, namely the Marais Breton. Testament to that area’s once all important salt farming industry, this delightful labyrinth of canals and rivers is now home to diverse wild life and enchanting, historical memories. The Marais Breton is a vast area in the north east of the region and like the Marais Poitevin (its sister marsh in the south), it’s had its share or Romans, Benedictine monks, Vikings and Normans  shaping its contours over the centuries but now represents a brilliantly preserved ecology. Another compelling reason to visit this charming little town is an opportunity to explore the ancient salt marshes by way of canoe. There are lots of different canoe trips (or walks) available for exploring this area from family outings to BBQ …

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Day trip to Mont St. Michel by night

We may be semi-permanent travelers these days so it’s probably a little snooty to admit that we don’t enjoy huge masses of tourists. But we do avoid those hot spots where possible. We can’t help it. Our introverted nature means we seek tranquility. Tranquility is one of many reasons we chose to live in the Vendée. Another is the fact that Le Mont-St-Michel, one of our favourite spots on the planet, is just an easy drive away. With October and Halloween just around the corner, I have been thinking about the last time we visited The Mount. We left late in the day for a romantic dinner there, and were surprised to discover that between 8pm and 8am (20h00 and 08h00), the famous Unesco World Heritage site folds itself back in time all the way to its pilgrimage roots. Before our first daytime experience at Mont-St-Michel, we purposefully read nothing about it. …

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In the Echoes of History

In our first six months in the Vendee, we lived near a beautiful abbey called the Prieurie de Grammont. Sitting like a romantic cube in a vast stretch of farmland, the abbey is built of stacked golden sandstone and oozes an air of mystery in the off-season. There are few windows and the sun-bleached doors are firmly shut for most of the year. Several times a week we took our dogs to run around in the garden, and to walk the dirt roads slicing through surrounding fields for some thorough exercise. We loved it, savoring the wind in our faces and snoots, and relishing the changing colors of farm life. The fields went from brown, to green, and sprung bright yellow with colza flowers. We greeted sheep and cows, making note that the fences moved to other pastures with the livestock, so there was always wide open space to take …