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COVID-19 Vendée

On June 14th President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation, releasing it effectively from the shackles of Covid-19 to include the internal European borders. We are now free to travel for holiday, to receive guests to our holiday accommodations, and to see our loved ones in our native countries! While this is exciting news and a huge relief, the president did caution that the virus is not over and we must remain vigilant, even recommending the French to vacation on home-soil this summer rather than traveling abroad. The borders to outside Europe remain firmly closed to some countries (including the United States). They were only opened to countries where the Covid-19 health situation is under control. FROM 11TH JULY end of the state of health in metropolitan territory, which means: River cruises are allowed again; a decision will then be taken, in consultation with the European partners, on the resumption of …

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Your new Girl Friday in the Vendée

Last year we reported with a great deal of sadness in our hearts that the popular and famous Bar Le Clemenceau in Mouilleron-en-Pareds was closing its doors. Let’s be honest, we have missed Ali (and Tim) terribly, haven’t we? That’s why we’re delighted to announce Ali’s return to her awesome customer service in the Vendée! We all need a little help sometimes… Girl Friday help, that is! Hi! I am Ali Goodgame. Many people in the Vendée may remember me as your friendly expat landlady from Bar Le Clemenceau in Mouilleron St. Germain. Since we made the difficult decision to stop the bar in September 2019, I had an immersive experience working at the well-known local food processing business Fleury Michon. I enjoyed working with my French colleagues very much and the job gave me a routine and focus through the difficult lockdown period due to the pandemic. While working …

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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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Choosing a Kiss. A memoir of racism in the life of a naïve immigrant

Since the murder of George Floyd, I have been painfully aware that blacking out my profile against racism is easy. Finding words to help in the fight, not so much. But give me a minute, I have a life-story to tell. I remember well the first Algerian family that moved into my grandmother’s neighborhood in the city. I must have been around 10 or 11 and could not understand why everybody called them “Turks”. They were not from Turkey. They were Algerian. The blanket term to cover all Middle Eastern and African families that moved in after the EU opened its borders was my earliest confrontation with racism. Born in ’69, I grew up quite sheltered in the Flanders countryside. I was a shy kid, but also curious. While the people … ‘some people’ … around me grumbled and spat about the influx of migrants in our little country, I …

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Surprises from the garden: lettuce soup

I love a good salad. A big one. My mother calls it rabbit food these days though when I was a child there was always so much of it in our vegetable garden that we shared it with the neighbourhood throughout the season, and I remember plenty of it on my plate too. I love lettuce! Fresh. Crisp yet buttery soft. Green. But until recently I had no idea you could also cook with it. That is, endive is a lettuce I cook with all the time as well as serve stuffed for a fancy apero. But plain, green lettuce? I didn’t know! So, today is the day. This morning I deemed it time to pick the lettuce we had growing in planters in our concrete garden and for the first time ever, I’ll be turning it into lettuce soup. Dear friends who make this all the time kindly shared …

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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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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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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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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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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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Moving forward: tips for small-business digital housecleaning during Covid-19

We’re at the start of tourist season here in the Vendée but in times of uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, when we’ve all had to scale down our “business as usual” activities or shut them down altogether. Of course, time is a gift. There are things you can do to keep moving forward, to make your online business presence stronger than ever. This may involve precisely the tasks you never have the time, or take the time, to do because they’re not your favourite, but like your antiques, your online life deserves-needs- a polish too. UPDATE YOUR IMAGE INVENTORY Spring is here. No doubt, with all this extra time, spring cleaning and gardening is a productive activity right now. But spring also translates to our online business life. With flowers beginning to bloom and blossoms on the fruit trees, spring is a perfect time to update our business image …

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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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Photography Tips 3: how to prepare images for the Internet

Following our articles about Food Photography and Social Media photography this third and final photography tip focuses on how to optimize your images for the Web.  While this tip is for the more advanced user, we encourage you to explore the techniques described here. But we’ll certainly include tips and tools to take an easier route for (almost) the same result: beautifully cropped and optimized images that are accepted by social media entities and look great on your website with minimum loading time. In offset printing (on paper), the image used is of the highest possible quality, usually saved as a PNG, short for Portable Network Graphics, a file type that allows for a full range of color and better compression for the purpose of printing. The image has lots of pixels, and pixels are the millions of dots that make up the picture. On the Internet, where most of …

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Travel Trends 2020

Generational shifts – A number of last year’s travel trends have climbed right into the new decade but as trends go, they shape and mold to our ever-evolving sociological needs and issues. Social media has certainly managed to blast every world border out of existence up to and including… space. Yes. Puzzling as it is, what with space tourism not quite a reality just yet, the rising excitement around Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic’s progress toward space tourism has pushed space travel right onto the Travel Trends 2020 list.  Internet millionaires from Gen X on down, appear to be ready to take on the challenge! The Influencer Effect – We can’t help but wonder how Greta Thunberg feels about the notion of blasting toward the skies in a rocket? The next generation to enter the travel market is Gen Z (currently 10 – 25 years old). While environmental consciousness is certainly …

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Ready for the 3rd annual #bookdirect guest education day?

The first Wednesday in February is #BookDirect Guest Education Day, a worldwide campaign of solidarity for owners and managers of holiday rentals to work together towards a better balance between direct bookings and reservations through online travel agencies in their business. Everybody is invited to participate this year on February 5th, 2020 and at inthevendee.com we’re ready to support and help you! Big online booking websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway (Expedia), Booking and TripAdvisor add a high percentage of booking fees to the reservation total and as a third party they act as a wall between you and your (potential) guests. Booking directly with the owner or manager ‘deletes’ any 3rd party commissions. Dealing with the customer directly creates not only trust but also a positive (human) relationship with future contact at its beating heart. The long-term result is a better balance of direct bookings and reservations through online travel agencies. What started …

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Why oyster shells should be recycled

Do you enjoy a meal of oysters on the half-shell at your favourite restaurant or at home? Recycling programs in coastal regions world-wide, including the Vendée, are popping up just about everywhere to ensure the shells are redeployed as a vital natural resource. Oyster shells provide the best material… to rebuild oyster reefs. As an oyster lover, contributing your household shells back to the reefs is probably the most responsible way to recycle them, but it’s certainly not the only way in which oyster shells can be re-used. What is an oyster shell recycling program – Oyster are a fundamental species for water filtration to maintain estuaries and healthy coastal ecosystems. As a result, oysters are also used to gather information on the overall health of the surrounding ecosystem. Healthy coastlines mean more tourism and water sports, which suggests that oyster reefs provide not only ecological, but also economical and recreational …

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Fireworks ban Vendée

On December 23rd 2019 Benoît Brocart, prefect of the Vendée, has issued a temporary ban on fireworks as a preventive measure for the end of year festivities next week that prohibits the port, transport and storage of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles. The decree stipulates that: In addition, the prefect also issued a decree for a temporary ban on buying “take-away” fuel during the same time period. Share this Post

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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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Vegetarian Butternut Pie – an autumn delight!

Last year in fall or winter, Sky News announced the upcoming UK budget revelation with an infomercial where the main character was a pie… a wintry pie that looked delicious and easy enough to try to make. The infomercial showed the pie being made from scratch, and even without an actual recipe, I thought well, come on, you can figure this out. So, here it is, probably not exact and really it doesn’t matter. Because this pie is delicious, and it’s vegetarian. That makes it pretty much perfect for me. The question was, would my husband -the carnivore- like it too? Ingredients Vegetarian Butternut- pie: method NOTE: this pie is perfect to serve with roasted potatoes or a wintry salad (e.g. with pear and walnuts), or as a new twist in your roasted turkey Thanksgiving or Christmas menus. It is a great alternative to pumpkin -or sweet potato pie, or …

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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. 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 techniques used to manufacture products we may or may not be familiar with,  to understand the organization or the production from A – Z. The public is invited to a screening of a film about the history of the company, a presentation of the group’s activities and a visit of all its workshops. The world industry leader of agricultural machines …

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Halloween in the Vendée

Halloween originated as the Celtic and Gallic feast of Samain some 2,500 years ago, a feast during which our ancestors celebrated the end of summer and the impending arrival of the new year. It was believed this passage of time opened a gap between the real and the imaginary world, allowing the spirits of the dead to come and haunt the living.  It was believed that the bridge between the two worlds canceled their invisibility. The feast of Semain was a week of celebration with abundant feasts, ritual sacrifices, divine chastisements. Enter your location for directions to Chateau de Talmont Enter your location for directions to the Vendee aquarium Enter your location for directions to Odyssea PLEASE NOTE: This beautiful garden is closed in 2019 and 2020. NO EVENTS SCHEDULED. Their traditional Halloween event will return in 2021. Enter your location for directions to Le château Renaissance d’Apremont Enter your location for directions …

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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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Journées du Patrimoine 2019 Vendée – EVENTS

Why do we love the Journées du Patrimoine? For the younger generations it’s important to learn, for tourists an interesting way to travel deeper, and by travelling local, expats embark on yet another avenue in the multi-faceted integration process. Heritage = treasure! Plan ahead to make it an adventure on 21 and 22 September this year [2019]! ABOUT THIS LIST: we have done our best to mine the Internet for as much information as possible. We may have missed some locations, but there are simply so many events – we think no matter where you are in the Vendée, this will allow you to build a comprehensive itinerary for both days! Please use the ‘directions’ links to plug in your point of departure to get directions specific to you! Share this Post

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Bakery at Mouilleron-Saint-Germain is re-opening!

After the rather abrupt closure of the popular bakery in the village formerly known as Mouilleron-en-Pareds followed by many months of the Vival shop serving as bread-depot, there is finally good news for the community of Mouilleron-Saint Germain! The bakery is reopening on  Thursday, September 19th, at 06h30 with Vincent and Sébastien (bakers) and Adeline and Léa (pastry chefs) Merci Mouilleron-Saint-Germain, Vincent, Sébastien, Adeline and Léa! Share this Post

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Photography tips part 2: Social Media

Imagery can cause an instant click in the web-user’s mind.  There are simple things you can do to raise the visual impact of your business representation on social media. Following the steps of our basic tips and tricks will take your various online shop windows from amateur, to professional, in just a few simple steps! First, let’s recap! As mentioned in our ebook “23 Effective Marketing Strategies for your Hospitality Business” (we’re giving it away, just let us know you want it!), visually striking content is part of the psychology of the Internet. Along with interesting written content, it a driving force of what keeps us searching and clicking. So, ask yourself, compared to the images you pursue online, the images that make you feel an emotion, how does your own social media feed hold up? Are you giving the user what you yourself enjoy? No matter the format of …

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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 …