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William Chevillon invites us to discover Fontenay-le-Comte

While we are invited to rediscover the nearby territories without travelling too far, the Centre vendéen de recherches historiques (Sorbonne-University Scientific Council) is publishing a new book on the history, heritage and development of Fontenay-le-Comte. “À la découverte de Fontenay-le-Comte” is a book designed to offer a comprehensive look at the town, from prehistory to the present day, in all its diversity of landscapes and heritage.When I was offered this project on the history and cultural heritage of Fontenay-le-Comte, I thought it would be interesting to draw on what already existed and not simply evoke a past as glorious as often looked back on with nostalgia. Writing about a city is not just writing about people and monuments, it is also about trying to make people understand a global structure and to inscribe, for example, social housing and public art in the continuation of the primitive constitution of an urban …

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Petra of Le Puy Ardouin tests own Tiny House accommodations during lock-down

After a long search for the perfect spot to live in France, Dutch couple Petra and Jan fell for their rustic farmhouse  ‘like a ton of bricks’. We can understand why! Among the ancient trees, across a sloping terrain, one can almost touch the sound of silence. Le Puy Ardouin is an earthly place that speaks for itself, that brings you back to simplicity. Sunday, March 15th. We’ve just completed a training course in the Netherlands and plan to drive to France tomorrow morning. We hear that from 18.00 that evening all restaurants in the Netherlands have to close their doors. We’re worried about making it back to our place in France, Le Puy Ardouin, because there’s a threat of a lock-down. That’s why we decide to leave immediately and drive through the night. On Monday morning we’re relieved to be greeted by our dog Lola and our friend Peter, who …

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These Atlantic Coast beaches in the Vendée are open for Social Distancing

With its abundance of thriving wildlife, tropical flora, windmills and ancient history, old customs, and outdoor activities, the Atlantic coastline of the Vendée must be one of France’s best kept secrets. We miss our temporary residents and visitors terribly and can’t wait for you to return, but for now the locals are surely not unhappy to have the endlessly golden Vendée beaches all to themselves for just a little while.Superb vacationing year-round –  The western border of the Vendée is comprised of more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) of unspoilt coastline with 160 km of golden sandy beaches that are as inviting for summer reading as they are for invigorating winter walks. In addition, each of the nearby islands supplies its own history and charm. Located in the Bay of Biscay is Noirmoutier, accessible at low tide via the famous Passage du Gois causeway. Île d’Yeu, situated around 32 km (20mi) …

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The silver lining of lockdown at B&B Au Passage du Gois

When we asked to find a title or tag line for their blog post, Martine told us that she thought the motto of footballer Johan Cruyff was appropriate to describe their almost 2 months of lockdown. She found a balance in routine, in sunshine and in the wildness of her husband Hemko’s confinement beard.It doesn’t happen often, but for the first time in a long time there was something you couldn’t find on Google. What is a COVID-19 confinement in France, how does it work and when will it be over? But there wasn’t much information initially so, we thought… well, we’ll need to come up with some sort of answer ourselves. We sat around the table and made some kind of a plan of action. We said to each other: we will not be sleeping in, but get up at our normal time and get to work, because time …

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Owners of L’Etournerie Gites & Camping Vendée look to the future

We have asked a few Vendéen small business owners to discuss their plans for the future whilst coping through enforced quarantine. In a first installment, allow us to introduce you to Renée, René, Jacky, Emma & Mariecke, a Dutch family who own L’Etournerie Gites and Camping where tranquility, good food, and flowers are central to Dutch-French hospitality in the Vendée!In 15 years, you develop habits. Or maybe a rhythm. At the beginning of the year, you start looking at everything that needs to be done before you can announce that you are ‘open for business’ once again. You tick off all those things and then you put up the sign “OUVERT”. Only this year, a pandemic with the inevitable French government’s announcement of a complete lockdown starting March 17th, threw a spanner in the works. At the beginning, everything was so focused on China that no one in Europe was really …

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Vendéen private chauffeur goes the (social) distance

We have invited a few Vendéen small business owners to discuss how they are coping with the pandemic. In this installment, please allow us to introduce you to Anne, private driver and proprietor of Melkhior, who has used recent weeks to work on building passenger confidence post-quarantine.Hello! I am Anne, a professional driver in my company Melkhior. I offer private chauffeur services in a seven-passenger van equipped with leather seats, USB socks and Wi-Fi on board. The service is quite simple. We accept reservations by phone, text or email and provide a quote that determines the cost in advance. A typical workday means working with companies and individuals traveling any distance for tours, airport transfers (Nantes, Paris, La Rochelle), accompanying them on business or to touristic sites. From the start of tourist season, I transport many British, Irish, and Dutch passengers as well. More recently, in March, I was being hired to travel …

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Tourism & hospitality in the Vendée: surviving the immediate future

We have been asked to share our thoughts about whether or not there will be tourism in the Vendée this season. To address this, means we feel it important to address tourism & hospitality in general, as that will inevitably affect what happens in our department. The following are musings and logical thinking as having lived – and survived – 9/11 working for a major airline and related hotel industry, applying the gravity of a pandemic and its possible repercussions. 1/Is Covid-19 here to stay? The answer to this question seems quite logical: as long as the disease spreads and without a vaccine to inoculate the masses, yes, unfortunately Covid-19 is a long-term global health crisis we’ll have to deal with or work around. If we reach back to 9/11/2001, the world came to a standstill in the wake of a shocking terrorism attack that delivered a gut-punch to air …

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Expatriate in lock-down France

In recent years, the thought has crossed my mind many times that if anything could keep me from my mother in Belgium, it might be World War III. Never had I considered a virus-related near-global quarantine. But the very first day of lock down in France my worst nightmare as an expat and as an only child, delivered a punch in the face: my mother, who lives independently, took a nasty tumble down the stairs in the middle of the night. It was the third time she would be in hospital this year, and the eighth time since my husband and I moved to Europe from the US after announcing she didn’t want to fly anymore, anywhere, let alone across the ocean. But when I think back in my expat life of twenty-eight years, it is only the third time that I have experienced a roller-coaster of stress as extreme …

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Journées Régionales de la Visite d’Entreprise – Open Door Days Vendée

For the fourth time since its inception, the public is offered a chance to go behind the scenes of small, medium and large companies spread throughout Pays de la Loire’s departments, including our own beloved Vendée. From October 24th through 26th, sectors such as industry, craft industry, agribusinesses, building, environment, oenology, fashion, transport, services and more open their doors to the public.What are the Journées Régionales de la Visite d’Entreprise ? Over the course of 3 days, the group Visitez nos Entreprises and participating businesses bring the visitor to the heart of their production workshops, manufacturing laboratories,  farms and factories to showcase the quality and diversity of products created or grown in Pays de la Loire and thus, also in the Vendée. The open doors are a unique opportunity to allow young and old, families and schoolchildren, job seekers or the  curious, to discover company histories, to get an idea of the …

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Landmark English Bar Le Clemenceau in Mouilleron-en-Pareds closes its doors

We are sad to announce the closure of our beloved Bar Le Clemenceau, a charming English run café-restaurant in the heart of Mouilleron-en-Pareds (Mouilleron-St-Germain.) Owners Ali and Tim Goodgame closed its doors permanently on Friday, 27th September 2019 after a busy night during which many loyal customers stopped in for the last Vendée Chippy’s fish and chips event in the popular location. For five years Tim and Ali have successfully brought locals, expats, and tourists together through beer, conversation and events. Their hospitality and the lively spirit of the bar played an important part in the community far beyond Mouilleron-en-Pareds. In fact,  whether you stopped in for an apéro or a cream tea, you could always count on a cacophony of languages at Le Clemenceau. Ali says: “We have absolutely loved the last 5 years, but after much thought and quite a few tears, we have decided we would like a …

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Support Fête de l’Agriculture de Vendée & your local farmers!

We bid you caution: large machines and fascination ahead! Let us tell you all about how and where you can support our local farmers and the young Vendées farmers association  whose annual festival is one of our top recommended events in the Vendée! We don’t even mind telling you: we had so much fun during the 2018 edition we gave up on taking pictures so we could fully immerse ourselves in the experience!France, land of agriculture – with over half of its territory dedicated to farming, France is responsible for nearly one fifth of agricultural revenue in Europe (or 1.5% of French GDP). The raising of livestock and cultivation of crops is as important now as it was centuries ago. Nurturing the flavours of the land (terroir) and the trade that follows, has not changed. Consumer demand, however, has. The average Joe’s lifestyle is bigger and busier than ever; we travel farther, …

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Make it a Saturday in Fontenay-le-Comte!

Located on the banks of the Vendée river and historically the former capital of the Vendée, Fontenay-le-Comte is picturesque at any day of the week. But on Saturday mornings there’s a popular market we don’t want you to miss!A brief introduction to the architectural pearl of the Vendée… City of Art and History  – Like the rest of the Vendée, the area of what is today the beautiful city of Fontenay-Le-Comte has seen settlements since prehistoric times. The land was rich with game for the hunting, and at the time the area bordered the Gulf of Poitou which meant abundant fishing. For a long time, Fontenay was a port on the ocean. On the small islands dotting the Gulf, abbeys were taking shape under Roman rule. Throughout the next centuries, monks used an ingenious way to claim the land and make it fertile, creating a vast landscape of canals used …

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Fête de la Musique: a worldwide phenomenon rooted in France

Let’s be honest… what better way–major sporting events, war or natural disasters aside–to find solidarity and companionship, other than experiencing [live] music?! Don’t you agree? Should it be any surprise that the Fête de la Musique (or Music Day, or Make Music Day or World Music Day), has grown to be a world-wide phenomenon each year on 21 June? Music is so many things! To the ears, to our sense of rhythm and self-expression, to our emotions and need for togetherness, to being lost in a performance, music speaks a common, universal, language. But to what do we owe the annual celebration of music and why is it on June 21st? American musician Joel Cohen came up with the concept it in 1976 when he worked at Radio France-Musique in Paris. Celebrating music on the longest day of the year was his idea to give the station a boost. It was the first and …

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New proprietors at Café Cour du Miracle in Vouvant

We have the honour to announce a change of ownership at our beloved Café Cour du Miracle, a charming English run café-restaurant located at the heart of one of France’s petites-cités-de-charactere, Vouvant. Karen and Paul. the current proprietors, have announced their retirement! For nine years they were part of the community in Vouvant and the surrounding area, serving great food and afternoon teas with a warm welcome. Karen says: “We have enjoyed our time at Cour du Miracle. We’ve met lovely people over the years, tourists and locals alike. We have good memories to carry away with us. Now it’s time to travel and enjoy our retirement. We have plans!” Paul and Karen would like to thank everybody for their loyal patronage and support over the years and they hope to see you in or around the Vendée. In recent weeks the new owners, Suzanne and Dean Richards, have been …

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Why the Internet in your Maison Ancienne is slow, and what to do about it.

Internet access has become more of an expectation and necessity than a privilege. The only thing worse than an Internet outage is sloooow access, even in tranquil, rural France. If your service is absent, you might go outside for a stroll, or do a bit of cleaning, or visit a chateau – but if it’s simply slow, it becomes a frustration. Here are five reasons your French Internet connection could be slow.Chronic slowness generally stems from three sources, the first being the home network connection. Across France, network connections are generally good quality, however, in rural areas with low housing density, slow speeds are endemic. Most homes have as the only option ADSL, which is delivered over telephone lines. The distance from your home to the nearest telephone switch directly impacts your potential speed – the farther, the slower. Because ADSL is delivered over the telephone infrastructure, there is no …

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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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Summer in the Vendée

Summer is well underway in the Vendée and the whole area is awash with sunshine, holiday makers, summer festivals and great things to do. If you’re in the area, you’d be hard pushed not to know about some of the many events that are going on but in case you find yourself with nothing to do, here are a couple of our suggestions: 1. If music and other cultural entertainment is your thing, the Vendee delivers throughout the summer months. Finding information online might be a bit tricky, so here are a few suggestions to help you on your way. On the Atlantic coast from St. Brevin les Pins right down to La Tranche sur Mer you can enjoy an absolute smorgasbord of free entertainment, with an eclectic mix of music, dance and street theatre which includes everything from African story telling, Burlesque dancing, rock and roll and blues and quite a lot more as …

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Images of The Great War

Our very own resident historian, Lawrence Dunn, has released a new book titled “Images of The Great War”, a thought provoking account of British artists and the Great War of 1914-1918, including accounts by many soldier-artists who had previously been written out of the cultural history of England. Many of the explanations are in the artists’ own words, and where applicable there are excerpts from Official British Army diaries. This book makes the perfect memento of the Great War. It is available on Amazon, and can also be purchased at the following bookshops in the UK:  Blackwells, Foyle’s, W. H. Smith and Waterstones. Lawrence also wrote the popular “Vendée Wars” page. He divides his time between L’Hermenault in Vendée, and Essex. Posted April 1, 2015 by admin Share this Post