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Hidden Corners in the Vendée

Driving through endless farm fields across the rolling hills of the Vendée, adorable villages present themselves from a distance with ancient church steeples peeking over trees or clay rooftops. Why not slow down time itself to discover their hidden secrets? At inthevendee.com we swear by this method of travel. It’s a great way to explore in all tranquility and occasionally meet likeminded people for a chat on the unbeaten paths of France. Prehistoric and Romanesque – How much do you really love history? Or adventure? Enough to ignore the incessant ‘recalculating’ voice of the GPS and point the nose of the car toward the slightest hint there may be something unique or interesting to see?  The hand of History –  Have you ever heard about the age-old tradition of gathering to wash laundry in a village pond still being honored? Or discovered a centuries-old chapel in a picturesque valley? Have you ever touched a …

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COVID-19 Vendée

From Saturday April 3rd at midnight we are going back into lockdown, President Macron announced on March 31st. For the next four weeks we can travel a maximum of 10km from our homes except for reasons listed on the form and the 19h00 to 06h00 curfew remains enforced.  Traversing departments is considered non-essential travel. All changes are listed on the Government website here (in French, right click for translation to your computer’s default language. The following shops are open: “only those selling essential goods and service – plus bookshops, record shops, DIY, plant and flower shops, hairdressers, cobblers, chocolate makers, car dealerships, property viewers – in order to reduce contact in enclosed areas.” For now the lockdown was announced at four weeks, until May 2nd.) Non-essential travel between countries remains restricted, and France demands a negative PCR Covid test within 72hrs of arrival at its borders. For all measures and …

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Passage du Gois, Vendéen road of mythic proportions

The world counts a few roads that even die-hard adventure bloggers tell you to avoid; roads that consistently make the list of “most dangerous” to traverse. There’s the Stelvio Pass in Italy. And the Yungas Road in Bolivia which hugs the side of a mountain without guardrails; or Skippers Canyon Road in New Zealand which is prohibited for rental cars because no insurance will cover them. And then there is famous French causeway that gives way to the Atlantic Ocean twice per day. Welcome to the Passage du Gois, historic monument in the Vendée and one of the world’s most dangerous roads! Nature’s punishment – Linking the mainland at Bauvoir-sur-mer on the gorgeous French Atlantic coast with Barbâtre on the Island of Noirnourtier is the Passage du Gois, or the Gois, a road that many will recommend avoiding at all cost. They are not wrong. While not the only tidal causeway …

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Daytrip from Vendée to Clisson & Hellfest Park

Clisson offers a curious panorama of French-medieval history seen through a Tuscan window. Or vice versa. Is it France? Is it Italy? The short answer: it’s a combination of the two. This small village with its imposing castle perched atop a lovely valley where the Sèvre-Nantaise and La Moine rivers merge, was set on fire by the Republican General Kléber during the Vendée Wars. Located on the edge of the Vendée (Poitou) and Loire-Atlantique in an important strategic position, Clisson was home to the Lords of Clisson since the XIth century, from 1089 to 1789! Today, this small town is not only famous for its position in French history and its interesting architecture. For one weekend a year, its just over 7,000 inhabitants grow by about 180,000. The reason? The biggest and roughest rock music festival in Europe…. Hellfest. An eventful history – Clisson’s history and that of the Vendée …

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Fishing in the Vendée

From the Atlantic ocean, to lakes, to rivers, to the marais, and even fishing ponds, the Vendée catch (2nd category) includes bass, large conger eels, eels, trout, carp, pike, pike perch, roach, bream, rudd,  tench, sardines, and more. In the marais even the Louisiana red crayfish is present. With a total of 4,500 kilometers of waterways and approximately 1,400 ha of dam lakes (for production of drinking water) Vendée offers an ideal spot for every experienced to novice fisherman or fisherwoman. Introduction Once tourism season is over in the Vendée and holiday makers have returned home, the hotspots for fishing revert back to the tranquil retreats fishermen love. Hotspots for sea fishing include the beaches in La Faute-sur-Mer, L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer, and Les Sables d’Olonne. Where the Lay river meets the ocean, a sandy beach with a bridge over the river is an inviting spot from which to cast a line. Further …

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Discover Montaigu-Vendée

In Gallo-Roman times on an intersection of two important Roman ‘highways’ grew the village of Durivum. Situated in the very north of the  department of  Vendée, the village known since 2019 as Montaigu-Vendée is a treasure. The vision of the Lords of Montaigu included a focus on education, a vision whose affect can be felt even today, making Montaigu and its array of fused villages a desirable place to live. But the area is also hilly and, thanks its many streams and rivers, lushly green and ideal for viticulture. Our investigation not only revealed Durivum’s intersection in Roman times… in the Vendée we know that where a rich history, water, vineyards and castles meet, we have discovered an ideal spot for exploration and discovery. Welcome to Montaigu-Vendée! History – The ancient Durivum (also Durinum) was a historic village between Brittany, Anjou and Poitou. In Roman times it may have been …

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What it means to be a responsible tourist

The concept of tourism is going through a massive shift. The term awareness has entered our bloodstream. Climate change as a global concept has been presented to us for years as an abstract need to heal our home Mother Earth but through it all we just kept on travelling, setting our bucket list as the higher priority without the necessary imagination to understand or embrace responsible travel. There is nothing like a pandemic to make us see how fast the environment can heal and how we can have a positive effect on the world by taking travel away. Now we’re learning  about the effect of our carbon footprint and the effect we have on local economy. We long to travel and we want to be a responsible tourist. But what is that? As late as last year’s travel trends, travelling was seen as an activity with nothing but positives attached. …

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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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National holidays, Celebrations, and Cultural Events Calendar in France 2021

France counts many national holidays, wonderful cultural events organised nationwide, and just like any other country in the world celebrates mothersday, fathersday, grandparents etc. Summer months on French motorways are also quite notorious! As a resident of France or as a tourist, it’s difficult to keep it all straight! That’s why at inthevendee.com we have created a handy **PRINTABLE** guide to those important days you want to be aware of. You needed this in your life, didn’t you? We did! National holidays, Celebrations, and Cultural Events Calendar in France 2021 DATE DAY 2021 EVENT IN FRENCH WHAT IT MEANS JANUARY 1 Jan Friday New Year’s Day Nouvel An Public holiday FEBRUARY 14 Feb Sunday Valentine’s Day St Valentin 16 Feb Tuesday Fat Tuesday Mardis Gras Carnival MARCH 7 Mar Sunday Grandmother’s Day Fête des Grands-mères Celebration 20 Mar Saturday March Equinox L’équinoxe de mars / Printemps Spring Season begins 28 …

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The days to avoid driving in France summer 2021

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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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! Airports and countries 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! Fly to the Vendée via Nantes Airport from these countries and cities ▸ Austria Innsbruck Vienna ▸ Algeria Algiers ▸ Belgium Brussels ▸ Bulgaria Burgas Varna ▸ Canada Montreal ▸ Croatia Dubrovnik …

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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. Winter Cabbages: savoy, white, brussels sprouts, broccoli. mushrooms (wild and other), endive, avocados, beets, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, green onions, kale, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squashes/ pumpkins, citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, oranges, clementines), dates, pears, apples 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 …

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Château de l’Hermenault and Garesché: connecting Vendée to world history

Chatting with the current châtelaine of Château de l’Hermenault, it came to light that the person who sold the beautiful castle to her forefather in 1806 had been Daniel Garesché, mayor of La Rochelle in 1791-1792. In our pleasantly lengthy conversation, the kind châtelaine said “Garesché family is fascinating. You should look it up.” … So, we did. We found in Daniel Garesché a man who was part of a veritable dynasty. A family that, to put it mildly, left their at times muddy boot prints on the history of France, Haiti, and the United States of America. With the motto “Jamais sans Espérance” (Never Without Hope) to lend a strong hand, it is the story of close-knit family built on patriarchal opportunism and survival spanning centuries, and touching the Vendée along the way. To truly understand the opportunistic make-up of this family it is necessary to travel back to …

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USA to Paris to the Vendée: Our European Family Vacation

There is nothing like a pandemic and lock down to make you appreciate your past travels. It is hard to believe that it has been one-and-a-half years since my husband and I decided to take a trip to France. With the children. I had been homeschooling my son, Jake (then 9yrs old) and has an affinity for geography, history, culture, and travel. To help encourage these interests, my former colleague and dear friend, Brenda, who now lives in France, began writing to him to share her experiences and adventures abroad. Their correspondence through letters and postcards sparked Jake’s eagerness to go and visit his new pen pal! After some planning and research together with Bren, we decide to introduce the kids to the thrill of international travel. As our family clunk our way down the narrow aisle of the plane, my toddler daughter Sara’s car seat in tow, I pull …

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Castles to see in the Vendée

Not all châteaux in the Vendée are open to the public. In fact, most are privately owned, sometimes with holiday accommodations available. The selection of twenty Vendéen castles in this article represent those accessible to view in high-season or year-round, or those which are open for sightseeing, reenactment spectacles, medieval festivals, and adventure parks. Is the Vendée paved with castles? – Yes and no. From medieval, to renaissance or neo-renaissance-style castles, and even some art-nouveau style ones, the number of chateaux in the Vendée is quite astounding. But most of them are private residences tucked away in sleepy villages or seemingly endless forests. You may run into them quite randomly or look for them in the 3rd weekend of September each year, when many have events or an open house in light of the European Heritage days (Journées Patrimoine) It’s all about the medieval – If you know just a …

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Journées du Patrimoine 2020: list of places to see in the Vendée

Welcome to the European Heritage days of 2020! The 3rd weekend of September ranks among the best weekends of the year for us! We challenge ourselves with a spring around our lovely Département du Vendée for the opportunity to visit well-known historical locations and monuments as well as sites that are rarely open to the public, for free or at a reduced rate. Join us for a list of options this year. Historically, how did the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine or European Heritage days begin? The French Ministry of Culture began the event  La Journée Portes Ouvertes in 1984. In the following year, at the 2nd European Conference of Ministers responsible for Architectural Heritage, the French Minister of Culture proposed that the project be internationalised under the European council. The Netherlands joined with their own Open Monumentendag in 1987, followed by Sweden and Ireland in 1989, and Belgium and Scotland in 1990. In 1991 …

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Where Vendéens can see Le Tour de France September 2020

Are you excited? WE ARE! At inthevendee.com we are fervent ‘course’ fanatics from the winter cyclo-cross season to the Classic Road Races to the big tours. Of course, nothing is as fantabulous as Le Tour and everything that surrounds moving this massive production across the streets of France. And yes, we know that’s not a word… but it’s a word at hour house when it comes to everything cycling. So, we will be gathering all possible information we can find because we want you and your guests to experience the circus that is Le Tour de France as well. Can you feel our enthusiasm? Yes? Good. Find updates here up to Monday 7th September. Because on the 8th and the 9th, we will be out of office! Dear readers, cyclists, caravan… the whole circus… See you somewhere along the route! See maps and local details below for stage 10 on …

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Vineyards and wine tasting in the Vendée

Since Roman times there have been attempts at growing grapes and making wine in the Vendée, but it wasn’t until medieval times that the activity became successful. The monks of the many abbeys around here didn’t only manage to turn the ocean into fertile land while creating the Marais, they also had a hand in the proper cultivation of grapes. Historically we owe the production of good wine to them and to the Cardinal Richelieu who In the XVIIth  century donated wine lands to the farmers of Luçon. Another reason for successful viticulture in the Vendée is the region’s temperate oceanic climate, with mild, wet winters and cooler summers. The oceanic climate is warmer than the continental climate but less warm than the Mediterranean climate. Vendee vineyards listed by region 1. Brem sur Mer vineyards CAVE PAJOT LAURENT *AOC. AOC Fief Vendeens Monday to Friday 11:00 – 12:30, 17:00 – 19:00 Saturday …

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Medieval Festivals 2020

Reminiscent of the big Renaissance Fairs or the all immersive Feasts of the Hunter’s Moon in other countries like the United Kingdom or the United States, Vendeen Medieval Festivals take you right into the heart of life in the Middle Ages with authentic food, entertainment and artist markets. Fun for the entire family! All Medieval festivals and events in the Vendée 2020 – TO BE UPDATED AS INFO AS INFO BECOMES AVAILABLE CHÂTEAU DES ESSARTS       POSTPONED TO 2021      Open BY RESERVATION ONLY      ADVENTURE AND STORY TELLING WALKS  IN JULY AND AUGUST (from 14h00 – 19h00) ; AND on Wednesday and Sunday in SEPTEMBER      Directions CHÂTEAU DE TALMONT    MESSAGE FROM THE CHATEAU    From Monday 06 July 2020 to  Friday 28 August 2020: Following the health crisis, linked to Covid-19, all the chivalry, falconry and nocturnal shows as well as the medieval …

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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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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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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. A guided tour with Centre Val de Sèvre Formation – 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. …

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Winter sightseeing: Logis de la Chabotterie

Largely regarded as the most important historical monument in the Vendee, the beautiful Logis de la Chabotterie presents an opportunity for sightseeing year-round. Spring through summer, the gardens thrive with colour and fragrance. But the Chabotterie manor and its surrounding park are especially charming in fall and winter, ideal seasons for an invigorating walk and to warm the soul with the beauty and knowledge of history. 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 …

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Churches & Chapels in the Vendée

Churches and chapels offer a great opportunity to peruse the art and architecture of bygone days, especially in the Vendée. In an area that knew such tumultuous times throughout history, they became an important source of protection for the Vendéens. We have created a comprehensive list of the chapels and churches worth seeing.  Please use the ‘directions’ links to plug in your point of departure for directions specific to you. Cross reference locations with our articles on Abbeys,  Prehistoric Vendée, and Castles to build an enriching winter itinerary. (Note: not all castles or abbeys are open in winter) Winter presents a great opportunity to approach our adventures through history in a different way. There is no better place than the Vendée to examine stunning examples of Romanesque and Gothic craftsmanship, and medieval defense. A – M Angles (85750) **Eglise Notre-Dame des Anges      Romanesque architecture and one of the most …

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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! A brief history – What is prehistory? It is the period of time that begins with the appearance of human beings (approx. five million years ago) and ends with the invention of writing(approx. 6,000 years ago). The prehistory is divided into three stages: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. These consecutive periods are determined by the human sociological progression and evolving e.g. in survival practices, tools and the use of pottery.  What is Neolithic and which prehistoric time period does it span? The Neolithic transition (when human beings made the …