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
**Eglise Notre-Dame des Anges
Romanesque architecture and one of the most beautiful religious monuments of Bas-Poitou.
**Eglise de Bazoges-En-Pareds
This fortified church shares the heart of the village together with a castle measuring 30 meters high and composed of six levels, rising from the Vendéen countryside like a medieval skyscraper. More information
**Eglise Romane de Beaufou
Romanesque church of Our Lady of the Annunciation (XIIth century), belonging to the Abbaye de Marmoutier-les-Tours (Indre-et-Loire). In March 1568, the church was burned by the Huguenots and restored in 1652.
**Eglise De Cezais
XIIth century Romanesque with fortification.
**Eglise St. Pierre
The view of the village from the cemetery towards the ancient fortified church is spectacular. Indoors, the church is in dire need of restoration, but it is beautiful.
A mix of building styles with the original church being XIth century (medieval). The clock tower and current church are sort of tucked within, dating XIXth century.
**Chapelle De La Bloire
Built between 1857 and 1859 with bishop's permission by Marie Pontoizeau because the village was far from the parish church. The stained glass was created by Charles Lorin, Maître Verrier in Chartres.
**Chapelle De La Commanderie De Coudrie
The chapel was once the sanctuary of an old commandery of Templiers, built in 1130 by Hugues de Payns, founder of the Order. Only the church remains, the rest of the commandery having been burned in the XVth century by the Huguenots.
**Église Saint-Romain de Curzon
Hidden beneath a 'newer' church (anno 1873) the entry to the crypt is situated near the altar, beneath trap doors. At the bottom of the stairs lies a XIth century crypt worth seeing.
Built in the 19th century, this church has three naves and the central vault has a coffered ceiling.
Fontaines (Doix-Les-Fontaines) (85200)
XIIth century church erected in the famous Loire limestone with two levels of arches in the beautiful portal facade.
Majestic and oh so Gothic, built on the remains of a Roman church - as evidenced by the crypt underneath the church. Our article on the city.
Petite Cité de Caractère®
XIth century, restored in the XVth and burned down in the XVIth century, but the Romanesque sculpted portal remains and it is truly beautiful.
La Chaize-Giraud (85220)
**Eglise Notre Dame
The original church dates from the XIIth century. The current church was rebuilt in the XIXth using the original plans. Fortunately the beautiful original Poitou portal was kept. It consists of four bows and beautiful masonry carvings.
La Chaize-Le-Vicomte (85310)
This church was built in the XIth century by order of the Viscounts of Thouars and consecrated on December 6, 1099. Though it suffered greatly in the Wars of Religion and was partially burned, what remained has been incorporated in the XIXth century restoration. In its time of disuse, the church was used as a slaughterhouse.
Directions to the village
La Flocellière (85700)
**Chapelle Notre-Dame De Lorette
Founded in 1617 for a Carmelite community, the church was refurbished in the XIXth century by Abbot Dalin, and the old choir was replaced by a replica of Santa Casa de Lorette in 1868.
Dated anno 1140, the church was enlarged in the XIVth Century. The church was looted by Protestants in 1568 and over the next centuries it fell in disrepair until Father Giron took possession of it in 1836 (the church was given back to the village). With the help of the parishioners, the building was brought back to life. Three bells were added in 1864, the walls rebuilt in 1872, and a stone altar added in 1879.
**La Chapelle de la Brossardière
Absolutely beautiful chapel constructed on the location of a massacre in the Religious Wars. It is located in a small hidden valley we can only encourage you to go and discover. Pilgrimage every August 15th for the sick and healed.
Directions to the village
Le Bernard (85560)
**Eglise Saint Martin
Built in the XIIth century, the church has seen some rebuilding in later centuries. After it was burned down in the Religious Wars, only the vaults remained. Louis XIIIth allowed a restoration in 1629 and completed in 1641. A storm tore off the bell tower roof in 1972. It was then replaced by a pyramidal structure.
Le Boupère (85510)
The imposing XIIth century Romanesque church was fortified in the XVth century to help protect the villagers from the 100-years war, and boasts two 15 meter towers pierced with archers and gunboats, with a connecting walkway between them.
Les Essarts (85140)
**Eglise Saint-Pierre and Crypte
The newer church was built in the XIXth century but there was a Roman church here and the crypt remains. The facade of the original church (XIth and XIIth centuries), which was burnt down in the Wars of Religion, was transported to the village castle grounds.
Les Herbiers (85500)
**Abbaye De La Grainetière
Silence required - working abbey (see our article)
*****Reach the Atlantic ocean island by ferry*****
**La Chapelle de la Meule
**La Chapelle du Père de Montfort
**Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Paix
**L'Eglise de Port-Joinville
**L'Eglise de Saint-Sauveur
**Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption
This impressive Gothic cathedral knew its beginnings as the location of a Prieurie anno 675. Later, the priory became an abbey. Several churches were built, destroyed (in Norman invasions, Hundred Years war, and the Religious wars) and rebuilt on this site. The classical facade was designed by the architect François Leduc (Poitou) at the start of the XVIIIth Century. There is much to admire here, from Romanesque remains to art and the 16th century cloister, which is also open to visitors.
**Chapelle des Ursulines
**Other chapels include Sainte-Thérèse, Sainte-Madeleine, Jean-Paul II ...
Directions to Lucon
**Cathedral at the Ancienne Abbaye
Majestic, mysterious, glorious... are words to perfectly describe this cultural heritage site. Constructed on the ruins of an old chapel ca. 976, there are accounts of an established abbey anno 989. The abbey was the area's bishop's seat until 1648, but its monastic function continued until it was abandoned in 1666. The cathedral was destroyed during the Reformation and the Religious Wars. More information
XIth century church with several restorations in its lifetime (and in need of one now for which donations are accepted). It was burned down in 1568 (Wars of Religion) and sustained heavy damage during the Revolution.The narthex was preserved from the original church and between 1964-1967 it was restored to its original appearance.
**Eglise Notre-Dame de Dissais
XIth and XIIth centuries - restored in 1993 and worth looking for off the beaten path.
**Eglise Saint-Médard de Mervent
The Nave with its two windows are part of the original Xth century church, and the Lords of Mervent castle (which no longer exists) had the choir added in the XIVth and XVth centuries. Admire the clock mechanism, anno 1640, and still working. There is a stone font and beautiful stained-glass windows.
M - Z
**Ancienne Eglise Saint-Christophe
Possibly dating back to the XIIth century, there is evidence of Roman and even prehistoric settlements in this village but the church is the oldest remaining monument. Beautiful XIIIth century murals remain in the nave.
This is the village of chapels and churches. There are three churches but for the purpose of this list, we chose to highlight the village chapels.
**Chapelle Du Pont
Tucked against a hillside, this chapel is a place of pilgrimage and alleged miracles. Its facade is simple, with a portal, an arched bay and a small niche with a statue. There is a single bell tower-wall. The chapel is dated end XVIIIth century. Lovely location.
**Chapelle Saint Lazare
Small rectangular chapel built by order of Guy de Thouars, Baron de Mortagne, in memory of his late wife. The chapel and the Maladrerie, were founded in aid of a leper colony. Beautiful stained-glass window.
**Chapelle de l'Hopital Saint Alexandre
Built anno 1849 adjacent to the ancient hospital buildings. The hospice was founded in 1846 by Mr. Lorette de La Refoulais, who donated it to the municipality in 1853 on the condition there would be a mass held in the chapel in memory of his son Alexandre de La Refoulais on the 8th of each month.
Petite Cité de Caractère®
This church began its life as chapel to the XIIth century castle that once stood here, and has been enlarged over the centuries to become the current church.
Check our Hidden Places article for the location of Clemenceau's Tomb in the surrounding countryside.
Directions to the village
Mouilleron-en-Pareds (Saint-Germain) (85390)
Snugly tugged in the heart of the village, which merits a walkabout to the museums and the ancient lavoir, the fortified church also offers access to a crypt. See also our article on Georges Clemenceau.
**Eglise De La Trinité
The bell tower, constructed in 1848, is polygonal, but the original church was built in the XIth or XIIth century and plundered in the Wars of Religion in 1562 and 1567.
Petite Cité de Caractère®
Founded in 1068, it was declared a royal abbey by King Louis VII, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine, in 1141. Except for the Romanesque cloister, it was largely destroyed in the Wars of Religion, and restored. Directions
This Romanesque church has a bell dating 1642, donated by François de la Rochefoucauld, seigneur de Marcillac.
Abbot Theodelin of Maillezais Abbey gave the order to build this beautiful Romanesque church in the XIth century on the plan of a Latin cross. Underneath the church, a stone quarry lay at the origin of the amazing underground refuge dating back to the Xth century Norman invasions. This is still accessible today. Several restorations were necessary after damage caused to the church in misc. wars.
The origin of this church which lies in the heart of the Fiefs Vendéen vineyards, dates back to the XIIIth century but having seen much destruction, only the choir from this period. In the XIVth century the church and adjoining priory were destroyed.
**Eglise Notre-Dame Du Vieux Pouzauges
XIth century church with Romanesque to Gothic features and feudal tower. Paving stones are actually ancient grave stones re-purposed from the surrounding cemetery. Beautiful location and church.
The original church was also built around the XIth century but only the Romanesque entrance remains. When it became too small to accommodate the local population around the castle, it was torn down and a bigger church built in the Gothic style. Here too, there is a mix of the two styles of architecture. Stained glass windows added in the XIXth and XXth centuries depict the Vendée wars. After the revolution it was ordered to replace a cross above the coachman with the Tricolor.
The construction of the Sainte-Marthe church dates from the middle of the XIIth century - early XIIIth century, as evidenced in documents by William IX, Duke of Aquitaine confirming donations were made to the Abbey of Montierneuf (which the church depended upon) by his XIIth century ancestors.
**Eglise de Puyravault
Of the Foundation
Hospitaliers of Saint-Jean-de-Jerusalem only the XIIth century church remains. Its rectangular architecture is characteristic of buildings of the Order of Malta, an order of knights and one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation, which helped create the Marais Poitevin. The church has kept most of its original openings and the ornamentation of its western portal. A small bell tower was added in the 1960s.
**Chapelle Ste Marie De Reaumur
At the origin of this chapel lies the legend of the Virgin Mary who is said to have provided a spring to quench the thirst of a knight.
Sables d'Olonne (85100)
**Eglise Notre dame du Bon Port
Located on Place d'eglise, Rue Bisson (near the boardwalk - walking distance from large car parks in the city)
This church, which was renovated anno 2014, dates from the XIth century and has an octagonal bell tower.
Began its life as a priory chapel (XIth Century) with a quadrangular shape and bell tower, and with a Romanesque portal. In late XIIIth century, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, the choir was added probably to elevate the priory to the status of abbey. After its partial destruction during the Hundred Years' War, the church was fortified with buttresses and turrets. In the XVIIth century, the church became an arms depot for the Huguenots but Royalists recaptured the church in 1621. On its roof sits a mysterious rabbit smoking a pipe - though nobody seems to know who, what or why. Someone with a wicked sense of humour, perhaps?
XVth century facade with fortifications.
**Eglise De Chalais
A monastery once stood here and before that, excavations near the church by a local scholar, Louis Brochet, indicated a cemetery dating from the Merovingian period (6th-8th century), Celtic axes, fragments of Samos earthenware, bricks, Roman medals etc. This discovery has not yet been reconfirmed with modern digs and archeological techniques though.
Located next to William Christie's Quartier des Artistes, this Gothic structure was built on top of an earlier church. It has a square bell tower and fortifications.
Once upon a time Vouillé les Marais was an island with a Benedictine priory, known for its pilgrimage to Saint-Maixent since the Middle Ages. The XIVth century church was built on the site of the original chapel.
Petite Cité de Caractère®
Church is anno 1028 and was enlarged in the XIIth century. Restoration projects in the XIXth century were never completed but the outside of the church is largely original, and the crypt beneath the nave is quite beautiful! (See main image)
The original quadrangular church dates to 1010 (XIth century). The old cellar has two vaulted bays with warheads from the XIVth century.
Keep scrolling for some images of
churches and chapels in the Vendee.
Please note this is a dynamic list. It will change with new and additional images over time.
Wikipedia and various village websites.
Images by inthevendee.com except where where noted otherwise.