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Our Facebook group’s recommendations for great places to eat in the Vendée

Our Facebook group consists hundreds of member… locals, expats of all nationalities who live here permanently, people who own a holiday home or second home, and tourists. We all have our favourite places to put our feet under the table and tuck in to a nice meal and/or have a cocktail with family and friends, or just for a bit of romance. We have pooled together their recommendations in various areas of the Vendée.  Not to show favoritism, we have listed them alphabetically by name, so if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, you’ll know exactly where to go for a meal recommended by your Vendéen friends! All tastes – all budgets. Listed alphabetically Ateapick – Fontenay-le-Comte 85200// tapas, burgers, cocktails, small but varied menu €€ – play a game of boules  24 rue Louis Auber Zone Saint Médard Some vegetarian options +33251539433 Website Map + reviews Brasserie La …

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The Sanctuary of La Salette and its remarkable architecture

From the banks of the river la Petite Meine rises a very steep hill covered with lush foliage, wildflowers, and exotic species of trees. This beautiful environment in the middle of nowhere in the Vendeen countryside is home to a monument of remarkable architecture; a place of pilgrimage that draws a crowd each first Sunday of September but is a quiet spot of tranquility and reflection the rest of year: the Sanctuary of La Salette at La Rabateliere. It is a grouping of religious buildings commemorating  the apparition of the Virgin Mary to two children in the French Alps anno 1846. History and location  – The sanctuary was built in 1887 at the initiative of Abbot Hillairet, then parish priest of the small village La Rabatelière. The land belonged to the Count of La Poëze who then owned and lived in Château de La Rabatelière (which is today a bed …

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A radical life-choice and a patrimony restoration project

For 15 years we were happy on the east side of Paris. My husband, Paul, with his international career for Disney, and I myself was happy as a full-time mother of our four children. Life was good, stable, and every project in the house was done. But when our children became teenagers, Paul had seen too many airports, and I myself needed new challenges. More and more, we discussed what new adventures we could experience. For both of us it was clear: we wanted a change in life. On our wish list was: living in a sunnier area, closer to the sea, old building with character and a terrain with endless possibilities, close to a big city and a train station nearby. It seemed like searching for a needle in the haystack. In the spring of 2019 we made a road trip that started in Biarritz. In advance we made …

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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 …

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Vouvant, Painters’ Village in the Vendée

Resting snugly in the arms of the Mère river at the edge of the largest oak tree forest in France lies one of the most beautiful villages of France. Vouvant, whose narrow streets demand a languid stroll in admiration of ancient architecture and a colorful plethora of flowers, seems to have been kissed by the gentle lips of history and tended by the loving care of faeries. A lovely drive toward the south-east corner of the Vendéen countryside will quickly point in its direction. Accept the challenge of discovery and you will quickly understand why Vouvant is lovingly referred to as the painter’s village. An introduction – The beginnings of Vouvant are somewhat mystical according to legend. The tale goes that the original castle here was created in just one night by the fairy Mélusine as a gift to the village. Of this castle only the donjon that dominates its …

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Market Days in the Vendée

Markets in France are typically held in the mornings from 8h00 to 13h00. They are usually up-and-running by 9h00. Do check village websites for cancellations, though these are not always announced. Summer Courgettes, asparagus, tomatoes, beans, apples, spinach, peppers, apricots, blackberries, cherries, currants, carrots, lettuces, radishes, raspberries, MELONS, aubergines. For a summary of markets in the Vendée, please keep scrolling. The markets highlighted here are organised in or around the Vendée. They are worth your time due to their seize, focus, or interesting location to perfectly combine shopping and sightseeing. Keep scrolling for our comprehensive list of markets. Covid-19 update: our market list dates from 2020 before coronavirus. Please check local websites and facebook pages for protocols or cancellations. inthevendee.com is not responsible for cancellations.  Niort Niort, with its narrow streets and remaining medieval half-timber structures, is located on the Vendéen and Deux-Sèvres border. While shops, cafés and restaurants are …

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The days to avoid driving in France summer 2020

France is the most popular travel destination in Europe with under normal circumstances over eighty-one-million worldwide visitors per year, but it is unclear how the Covid-19 pandemic will affect traffic on French motorways in 2020. France typically sees top traffic every July and August weekend. However, the outer European borders of countries where the virus-related health situation is not under control, remain closed. Travelers’ fears of contracting the disease abroad will also have an adverse affect on travel to or through France. This year, however, French natives may decide to vacation in-country, choosing a driving holiday over flying which may balance things out again. Additionally, the extra measures put in place at borders to control and to trace the spread of the disease, may put people off traveling. It’s also important to note new peeks of Corona virus in certain areas such as Catalonia in Spain, with governments (e.g. Belgium) …

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The Legend of the Fairy Mélusine

Château de Lusignan  (Vienne) was the ancestral seat of the House of Lusignan, the Lords of Poitou, who commanded great respect in the First Crusade. The castle was so large that in the 12th century a legend developed as to its beginnings. It was speculated that its founder must have had the help of a fairy, a fairy who took on the guise of the shape-shifting water spirit Mélusine said to have built the castle and its church for her husband Raymondin by using her mystical gifts. The reputation of the Lusignans was larger than life. So much so that between 1392 and 1394 the author Jean d’Arras recorded the folktale in a book entitled Le Roman de Melusine. It was the first of many literary versions that would be recorded through the centuries, as the folkloric tale seeped into the very fabric of history. The Legend One evening in the …

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Île d’Yeu, beautiful island of the Vendée

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the Greek Islands but haven’t been able to realise that dream, the Vendée has a wonderful surprise in store for you. Île d’Yeu, a small island located 32km (19mi) from the coast in the Atlantic ocean, has no shortage of whitewashed homes with colourful shutters and tropical flora set in three tiny villages, little ports tucked away along the wild coastline, and sprawling beaches that invite to spread a towel in the sand. And that’s just the beginning. If exploring in an idyllic setting is your thing, Île d’Yeu is ideal for a vacation, a weekend getaway, or a day-trip in the Vendée. Island of natural beauty, rich history and folklore – The Vendée is known for its beautiful coast as well as a rolling countryside painted in innumerable shades of green. But its islands off the French Atlantic coast have their own unique …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Le Tour 2020 postponed until August!

LATEST UPDATE ON TOUR DE FRANCE FROM APRIL 15th: due to the corona-virus pandemic, it has been decided that our beloved Tour de France will be postponed to August. Le Grand Depart is now scheduled for August 29th in Nice, and ends in Paris on September 20th, 2020. The official website has not yet been updated, but there is an article on France24English.  Having just watched the live presentation of the Tour de France 2020 with all its stages, we at inthevendee.com are excited! How wonderful it is to live in a place where every year we have the opportunity to travel to the spectacle that is Le Tour, or, if you just give it a year or so chances are it will come virtually on the doorstep wherever you may live. Now WE, are lucky enough to live in the Vendee, one of France’s most popular cycling destinations and …

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Windmill hunting in the Vendée

The windmill was omni-present in the European landscape and history shows their use wasn’t limited to the production of flour. In periods of conflict the windmills were an effective communication tool, including in the Vendée. A brief history – A windmill is a structure that converts wind power into a rotating energy through a series of  toothed wheels, mechanisms and millstones, grinding various grains into usable products like flour. The earliest known wind and water powered grain mills were used by the Persians (Iran) from the 6th to the 10th centuries as well as by the Chinese in the 13th century. The vertical windmills seen in Vendée use a mechanism with sails that rotate in a horizontal plane around a vertical axis. The first mentioned “vertical windmill” in Northern Europe dates to the late 12th century.  Bread in its countless variations has always played an important role in cultures around the world. …

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A walkabout Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre

The beautiful Eiffel bridge across the Sevre-Nantaise river, is but one of many interesting historical monuments to see in the quaint village of Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre. We’ll take you exploring some of them in this prequel to your own Vendée adventures. I love my job! When through inthevendée.com’s Facebook page and group our readers were invited by the tour guide students of Val de Sèvre Formation for an English language guided tour of the village known as the Holy city of Vendée, Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, yours truly seized the opportunity to sneak away from her desk for a few hours. There’s nothing like exploring another corner of France and the Vendée… and sharing it with the rest of the world. Located idyllically on the banks of the Sèvre-Nantaise river, a tributary of the Loire, this is village ideal for a lovely stroll among French heritage. On the morning of the tour it was quite cloudy …

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Winter sightseeing: Logis de la Chabotterie

A story through the ages –  The story of le Logis de la Chabotterie reaches far beyond the realms of the architecture of a Vendéen castle and its surrounding farm buildings. Its reputation as the best preserved manor of the Bas-Poitevin rests in the very hands of history. Not only was it restored to perfection, but Gerneral François de Charette was wounded and captured in the gardens of the domain in 1796. At its inception in the late XVth century, the layout was typical of a manor house in the area. In an exhibit on the first floor, there are a dozen or so examples of other such homes in the Vendée, some of which still exist. Much like the abbeys, these types of homes were at one point abandoned which left them vulnerable to being stripped for their beautiful stones to build houses. That didn’t happen here. In the …

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Prehistoric Vendée

One of the most unique features of the Vendée is the opportunity it lends to travel from time period to time period throughout history, and even pre-history. With evidence of life in the area dating back to Neolithic times, the Vendée proves ideal to take the entire family on a fun learning expedition away from school! The graph below left shows early neolithic movement originating from the south-east of Europe. There was a gradual progression of behavioral and cultural practices such as the creation of settlements, the use of wild and domestic crops, and of the domestication of animals. Crops included lentils, einkorn wheat, millet, and spelt, By about 6,900–6,400 BC, in addition to the keeping of dogs, sheep and goat, farming also included domesticated cattle and pigs. The center graph shows a map of prehistoric locations in the Vendée today.  Scroll down for a comprehensive list (not including the monuments that were removed or destroyed or became a part of …

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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 …

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Connecting people and places

Curious about everything and always sensitive to cultural expressions, I have developed a career path that focuses on heritage, ancient and contemporary art and the performing arts. Much more than a love of “old stones” (I don’t like this expression), attachment to heritage is for me the first step in creating a link between a person and the territory in which he or she is located. My playground is the Vendée, Brittany, Anjou, Charentes or Poitou. it is a permanent curiosity that feeds me wherever I go. I was 14 years old when I took my first guided tour. It was the continuation of a personal investment that started a few years before with archival research outside of school hours. An artist I like very much, Nicolas Schöffer, used to say: “To explain is to involve oneself and others.” It sums up the approach I am trying to apply in my work as …

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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? The concept Since that day in 1982 the idea has taken root in many countries across the globe including Belgium, China, India, Germany, Jamaica, Italy, Greece, Russia, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and over 100 more! …

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About Les Journées du Patrimoine de Pays et des Moulins

The Heritage Days of Land and Mills are a national event highlighting the heritage of the French countryside and its diversity takes place every third weekend in June. Perhaps less known than its Journées Patrimoines sister-event which takes place every 3rd weekend in September, Les Journées du Patrimoine de Pays et des Moulins was created to honour, celebrate and share heritage, landscapes and traditional know-how. Too often, history is presented as an abstract, depicted on a national scale. Living in an area so culturally and historically rich as the Vendée, it’s sort of normal to drive through the landscape without seeing it. We become conditioned to the vast contours of an ancient castle, or the wings of a windmill frozen against the horizon. But if history were presented as a puzzle, its many individual pieces are the parts that form the whole picture and they were created not in a …

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In the footsteps of Georges Clemenceau

When Georges Clemenceau left his birth village of Mouilleron-en-Pareds to take him to great heights and across the world, the Vendee stayed forever in his heart. We have lined up the places that were important to this very unique French president. Who was Georges Clemenceau? –  The enigmatic and much adored Vendéen-born Clemenceau was a controversial figure strong in journalism as well as politics. After spending his childhood here, he went on to Nantes where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Letters (1858) at the Lycée. After this achievement, Clemenceau went on to Paris to study medicine, (graduating in 1865) where he became a political activist and author. At the onset of his career as a senator, Clemenceau was a radical socialist in an extremely conservative senate. However, it wasn’t until after he broke away from the socialist party in 1906, that he became premier or prime minister of France …

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To the Vendee with children: a DIVERSE 5-day itinerary!

The Vendée offers sightseeing and adventure for the whole family. This beautiful area is also ideally located for travelers looking for a more all-round vacation in France. We have a ready-made travel route for them, with at the heart of it … the Vendée! A 5-day itinerary with a purpose  – Any number of  activities in the Vendée could fill weeks of travelling fun with the family. Not everything is history orientated. From water parks to karting, paintball, amusement parks, rock climbing and sports on and off the water, really, it’s no wonder so many visitors choose to return to the Vendée again and again… or simply stay an entire summer. A taste of France through Paris, the Vendée and its medieval history, island life, and the Loire Valley – Unfortunately this is not an option for everybody: those who travel a great distance at significant expense, with a curiosity …

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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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Castles to see in the Vendée

Not all chateaux in the Vendée are open to the public. In fact, many are privately owned, often with holiday accommodations available. Our selection represents the Vendéen castles open to the public, in season. Is the Vendée paved with castles like its neighbouring Loire Valley? – No, it isn’t. There are numerous (neo)-renaissance-style castles and even some art-nouveau style castles – many of them private. Some are for sale so if you would like to venture into the footsteps of the Intrepid Chatelaine (Instagram) of Chateau de Bourneau in the Vendéen village of Bourneau, let their journey  of renovation be a beautiful inspiration to you and give them a follow!  It’s all about the medieval – But if you know just a little bit about the  history of the Vendée, it’s no wonder medieval times are so revered. The legacy of Vendéen ancestors, whose blood runs through its very soil, …

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Getting to the Vendée

Travelling to the Vendée is easy thanks to the proximity of airports, railway stations and well-maintained access routes. If your destination is Le Bocage Vendéen (the countryside) or the Marais Poitevin, narrow country roads add another dimension to the charm and authenticity of the area. No matter your point of departure or mode of transportation, we hope to see you soon in the Vendée! With some planning ahead you can get very affordable flights from within Europe. to Nantes or La Rochelle airports. Planning itineraries from elsewhere in the world to these airports can be expensive but allowing yourself enough time and by splitting the itineraries, it could be done. Research to find best options! Please note: reduced schedule in winter! TRAVEL TIP from Gerry M. via our Facebook Group:  I take the #290 bus to Nantes at Mouilleron-en-Pareds stop. It takes a couple of hours, but it’s only a little …

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6 Reasons to visit the Vendée in winter

Vendee Tourisme is lobbying for this beautiful area to be a year-round destination. Whether you’re living here or you’re tourist, there are plenty of reasons why, and we’re listing them here! Behind closed shutters – Like the rest of the French countryside, the Vendée tends to batten down the hatches from the end of October through the end of March. Many  donjons, chateaux and abbeys retreat into tranquility, even famous Puy du Fou closes its doors. With the scent of smoldering hearths wafting gently over the villages, and countryside hamlets huddling behind closed shutters, the Vendée wraps itself in a blanket of cosiness. Winter activities – But it’s still the second sunniest area in France, also in winter time! As fall explodes in a multi-layer colouring book, and falling leaves blanket the rolling hills of the bocage in a winter hush, there’s no need to hibernate like bears! Several of summer’s most interesting …

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8 Must-see Loire Valley châteaux

Beyond the opulence of the Loire Valley castles lies a deep seeded history of feuds and craftsmanship alike. We have made a list of the chateaux you should see while spending your holidays in the Vendée. Why are there so many castles located in this area of France? What makes the Loire Valley so special? – The answer is not simple and spans many centuries. In an effort to be brief, we have boiled it down to three major reasons why the Loire Valley is an area of such great natural and cultural wealth. 1. The Loire river and its tributary branches mark a sort of natural barrier between the colder climate of northern France and the warmer climate of the south. The presence of the rivers cause the area to be a few degrees warmer, and provides irrigation. There is evidence of settlements dating back to the Stone Ages. Different types …