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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 …

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The European GDPR affects your Small Business in the Vendée

The LAST thing we want to do is to bore you with technology, but as the In the Vendée website is here to marry tourism in this beautiful area with your small business such as B&B, gites, campgrounds, restaurants, bars and any other hospitality or other business you may be the proud owner of …. the General Data Protection Regulation DOES affect you. The law has been in effect for nearly five months now. Many websites are still not in compliance. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), known as Regulation (EU) 2016/679, is “a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union.” This regulation has been there since April 2016, with the intention for it to become enforced starting 25th May 2018. Its tentacles are far reaching for your business presence online, including changes in the way entities …

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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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Regional Cuisine with Mogettes

Recently it was suggested to my mother-in-law that she go through a radical life change to address some health issues: to stop eating things that have a face. Or is derived from them. The diagnosis came right before my parents-in-law would visit us in the Vendée, and so the challenge to find meals a diabetic with heart issues could eat, was on. As a part-time vegetarian myself, I knew it would not be an easy feat in this area. But we found the local white kidney bean, called mogette in French, would serve the purpose of a fiber -and protein rich diet well. Even in restaurants, the ham that is typically served as part of this local delicacy, is traditionally prepared on the side. At the end of August 2018, we attended la fête de l’agriculture de Vendée in La Chataigneraie. Wonderfully, the in-season crops had been grown in an on-site demonstration. About the …

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We asked some campers why they love the Vendée!

A beautiful destination – The Vendéen gites, B&Bs, hotels and campgrounds welcome an average of 5 million tourists annually. 2017 marked the 40th anniversary-year for theme park Le Puy du Fou , with a reported 2.26 million visitors! Camping remains one of the favourite ways to spend family time in the Vendée. We spoke with a few campers this season, asking them to share why they love the area, how they chose the destination to begin with, and why they keep coming back. In their own words, here are Sally-Ann from the Lake District in the UK; Margaret and John, who retired from their transport business in the UK; and Harry and Cathy, retired dairy farmer and Cadbury’s chocolate maker from Ireland. Images – by webservices.dramatis I have come to France for working summers for four years now but this is the first time with my very own camper van and the first …

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Five Reasons to Visit the Vendée

Offering wildlife, tropical flora, ancient windmills and medieval history, old customs, and many outdoor activities, the Vendée is a place the entire family will want to explore. Superb vacationing – The Vendée pleases the eye, feels good on the skin, and with evidence of civilization from prehistoric times onward, chances are you’ll encounter something amazing around every corner. Because of this, the Vendée was prominently showcased in the 2018 Tour de France. The local cycling team, Direct Energie, proudly represented the area. For four wonderful days, the Vendée was front and center on the world stage and tourists flocked to experience the event and the area. Summer and winter – Certainly, even after the leaves fall from the trees and many castles close for winter, there is no shortage of things to do. With the largest forest in France nearby, the racing bike is exchanged for a mountain bike. Ocean swims become languid walks …

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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 …

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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? We do! In fact, we’ve been known to colour outside the lines. Prehistoric and Romanesque – How much do you really love history? Enough to ignore the incessant ‘recalculating’ voice of the GPS and park the car even at the slightest hint there may be something 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 circa 4000BC Megalith? This walking circuit of 13km or 8mi begins and ends in La Bretonnière-la Claye, follows the circumference of what was an island in the Gulf of Pictons around 10,000 years …

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On your Bike: La Tardière to Mouilleron-en-Pareds

Lovely trails edged with bluebells and wild hyacinth in spring, small chapels, ancient windmills, and old customs… see how just 12km (7.5mi) of cycling through three Vendéen villages can WOW your sense of adventure. Superb cycling – whether you live in the area or you’re on holiday, with a love of nature, history, physical activity, and adventure, this cycling route in the Vendée is a perfect way to spend a day or two. Two of the sites in this article are perfect for mountain biking in every season. Cycling time between the locations in this article is just 46 minutes, over a distance of 12km. A dash of mystery for any age group – Don’t love cycling? No worries! These sightseeing spots in the Vendée have ample (free) parking, offer many kilometers of marked walking paths, benches, picnic tables, and other nearby activities. And who doesn’t love a little mystery? Have you ever heard …

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Abbeys in the Vendée

Stunning in their dimensions, tranquil locations, state of ruin or architectural beauty, the abbeys  offer intrigue with a significant glimpse into French history and geography. Build an Itinerary – It would be difficult to see all of the abbeys in one day, but some could be looped together. Fortunately there is enough to find nearby them to venture out, perhaps with a picnic basket or beach toys, and definitely a camera, creating memorable days in the Vendée. In more good news, three of the abbeys are included in the Pass Vendée. Pass Vendée – the Vendée Pass is a cultural pass for €21 that allows you to visit 9 cultural and 2 nature reserves, as many times as you like for a year. It is available online (currently the site link is not secure, be aware of this) or in each of these locations where you can also use it:  Historial de la Vendée, Logis de la …

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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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Summer in the Vendée

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 part of La Deferlante, a family friendly and free cultural event with a distinctive and international flavour. Website But there are many more nights of music organised by cultural organisations around villages and cities, e.g. Niort holds “Jeudis Niortais”, free concerts in the park on Thursday evenings in July and August. You can also head down to St. Gilles to enjoy several free …

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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. For a summary of markets in the Vendée, please keep scrolling. The markets highlighted here are organised either in or around the Vendée. They are worth your time due to their seize, focus, or interesting location to perfectly combine shopping and sightseeing. 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 centered around the daily covered market in Les Halles, the castle or donjon is worth a visit.  Also the views from the castle rooftop over the city and Sèvres rivers is quite stunning. In addition, the market swells into the market square on Thursday mornings. While the Nantes Christmas market on Place Royal and Place …

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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

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The BEST French Onion Soup

A long time ago, when I tried my first spoon-full of French Onion Soup in an American restaurant, I nearly spit it out. To say it was a salt-bomb, drowning in cheese, would not be an exaggeration. Turning the cultural tables, my American friend Kelley ordered the dish in Paris when we were visiting a few years ago, and after her first spoon-full she threw her spoon down exclaiming “I don’t know what this is but it’s not French Onion Soup!” Because she’s used to the salty American version, it was not at all what she’d expected. It would be interesting to know why and how the recipe changed so dramatically from one continent to the other over the course of history and migration. You’ll have gleaned, however, that real French onion soup is my own personal preference. So, today I’d like to invite you to my kitchen for a …