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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 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. 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 …

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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 …