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Present your business with GOOD images! PART 1: food

Imagery can cause an instant click in the web-user’s mind. Time and time again. It explains why travel -and food photography has become so important online. Do you feel like that’s not you? We don’t want you to worry! There are simple things you can do to raise the visual impact of your online business platforms, social media and/ or website. They are, after all, the windows to your services. Our tips and tricks are especially written for people who feel overwhelmed by the digital side of the business. They will help you to bring various shop windows from amateur, to professional; and help boost your picture repository to use for months to come! As mentioned in our ebook “23 Effective Marketing Strategies for your Hospitality Business” (we’re giving it away!), we mention that psychology is very much a part of  the picture for our online presence. If button colours …

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The days to avoid driving in France this summer

Summer is HERE, and not just in the form of the first heatwave of 2019! Nope. We mean traffic… T.R.A.F.F.I.C! After the shortest night of the year (summer solstice), European schools gear up for the summer holidays. Fortunately, to keep order in chaos, the end of school is staggered from country to country and even divided into zones within countries. Belgian schools let out on the last weekday of June. and France at the end of the first week in July. The Netherlands on the other hand divides its end-of-school-days in zones south, north, and middle and sends its children on holiday (in that order) on July 6th, 13th and 20th in 2019. Germany, a much larger country, consists of even more zones starting about mid-June through end-July. According to Schengen.com (Schengen visa area’s website), France remains the most popular travel destination in Europe with over eighty-one-million worldwide visitors per year! …

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Did you feel that? Earthquake in the Vendée!

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.3 on the Richter scale struck throughout the region of Pays de la Loire on Friday, June 21st, 2019. Around 06h50 UTC – 08h50 local time – a loud noise was followed by a 10-to-15 second tremor. The epicenter [47.172°N 0.597°W] was located some 3.4km deep west-north-west of Vihiers, a commune of Maine-et-Loire some 31km south of Angers. The quake was felt as far as the south-Vendée and Niort. Needless to say social media shook quite instantly with people wondering what had happened or even excitedly posting the “freaky” occurrence. Some had never experienced or even felt a quake before and were as curious as shaken up about it. Fortunately, there are no reported injuries or property damage, but there are reports of aftershocks. The last time an earthquake occurred was in February 2018 and the force was like Friday’s. Earthquakes happen more often; …

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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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Why your website matters more than ever

So, here’s a question: before the Internet, would you ever have considered starting a business without being listed in the Yellow Pages? Recently, during a business lunch with a group of fellow small business people, someone said to me that he had canceled his website. I’m not sure I managed not to physically cringe. When I asked for a further explanation, that person explained that the website received zero traffic. He had even paid someone to update it, but this had not generated traffic either. Ergo, the website received the ax. Have you ever felt the need to erase your entire online business presence? Or, do you believe a Facebook business page, and/or a listing on a travel e-commerce website provide enough exposure? The truth is that clients and potential customers want to find your services at their fingertips. And by this I don’t mean via the Yellow Pages. Phone …

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SSL Recommendations for your small business website explained

As a small business owner with a website advertising your goods, from products to services to the tourism industry, you might be aware of news reports indicating trends are evolving toward all sites being updated with an SSL certificate. In other words, making a website ‘private’ through encryption, making it more secure. Why it is so important for 2018, and is compliance required? We have been asked this question often in recent weeks, and in the same breath we hear people being told that website encryption may be an unnecessary expense for them. Up until recently, this was true, but only if a website was not handling sensitive personal data e.g. with log-in, password, email, payment information, etc. Before 2018, there were already two major reasons to fortify your website with an SSL certificate: What encryption does, is hide your http://yourwebsite behind a closed door, which is indicated in the …

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Your business with Google

If you’re one of those small business proprietors who haven’t figured why you and Google should be like two peas in a pod, you are not alone! AND this blog post is definitely for you. In our blog post Why your Website matters more than ever we have discussed why it’s important in today’s marketing world, to have a website. But it’s important to understand that gaining traffic to a website is not as simple as ‘having a website’. There are many more components to being seen online than meets the eye. You see, to be found by the almighty Google search engines and for your information to be shared with their users (that is, persons using Google to perform Internet searches), it is vital to register – or CLAIM- your business with them. But there is more: But there’s more! BEST PRACTICE TIP: to avoid an out of control …

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A look at 2019 travel trends

The higher purpose of social media – It was bound to happen that social media would become a goldmine for measuring travel statistics and especially trends. In addition to tourism statistics released annually by your local tourism board such as the Vendée Tourism Studies 2017 (French only), social media can offer useful insight into how our travel habits as a society evolve over time. Especially Pinterest and Instagram have become the go-to research -and travel journal medium for travellers. Over-tourism – iconic destinations live not only in our own dreams and goals, but in that of just about everybody. Who doesn’t want a holiday in Paris or Barcelona or Rome or New York or London, the French or Spanish Mediterranean? In fact, the most popular places are probably at the top of our own bucket-lists more often than not. In some ways these destinations are the victim of their own success. Overcrowding …

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Medieval Festivals 2019

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 2019 Share this Post

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Asparagus for breakfast, lunch & dinner

Before I share these simple meals there are three things you should know about me: I love an elaborate breakfast, try to limit my meat intake and [un]fortunately I’m the only one in the house who loves asparagus! Which means I don’t buy them often and when I do, I feel compelled to make the most of them. Read through the entire article to see how. Being Flemish, I must say that Asparagus à la Flamande is one of my favourite appetizers ever, so simple and with a surprising burst of flavour. My grandmother-of-the-heart was crazy about the ‘white gold’ of the Belgian soil and prepared them every which way possible while asparagus were in season, but her favourite was Cream of Asparagus Soup which means I always have to make my own version of it in her honour. But as mentioned I do love an elaborate breakfast, especially on a …

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Empty Attic (Vide Greniers) & Flea Markets

Vides Greniers or “emty attics” and flea markets in France are a popular pass-time and so too in the Vendee! Lucky for those of us who love this activity because there are a lot of them scheduled to take place in 2019! As they say, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”! PLEASE EXCUSE OUR PROGRESS – MORE EVENTS AND DATES TO BE ADDED. ALL VIDE GRENIER DAYS ARE ALSO BEING ADDED TO THE EVENTS CALENDAR. Share this Post

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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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Le Puy du Fou for Notre Dame Cathedral

Has it been just hours since fire ravaged France’s most majestic cathedral? Did it really happen? In the Vendée we share immense sadness with the rest of France – and the world – for seeing the 855-year old structure so badly damaged. WHEN: Friday, June 7, at 22h30 (10:30PM) TICKETS ON SALE AT THE PARK FROM 17TH APRIL OR ONLINE from April 18th  A HUGE THANK  YOU to Le Puy du Fou for this BRILLIANT idea!  Share this Post

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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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How to use our marketing ebook

Let’s keep this introduction very simple! We wrote our little ebook simply to provide information on the techniques you can apply to your Vendéen (or any) small business to gain more attention on social media and drive more traffic to your website (tip# 1). If you’d like to learn how to marry your physical business with good digital business practices and the Internet – resulting in visibility and (ultimately) sales, we encourage you read it. Grab pen and notebook. Roll up your sleeves.  By moving today’s digital marketing trends and techniques from theory to practice, your online presence will gain its footing. The ebook contains 23 tips, some of which already contain a little more information, and some of which will be further unraveled in related blog posts. THE GOAL OF “23 EFFECTIVE MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR YOUR HOSPITALITY BUSINESS” HOW THE eBOOK WILL BENEFIT YOUR SMALL-BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Talking about yourself …

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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 …

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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 …