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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 LegendOne evening in the forest of …

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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 beauty …

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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 (20mi) …

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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 to travel …

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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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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. For …

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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.A guided tour with Centre Val de Sèvre Formation – 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 …

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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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Chicken Chili with Mogettes

Whilst I’m a very selective fan of the slow cooker, there are some meals that just demand to be prepared that way. This chicken chili is definitely one of them, but I would never cook a lovely Texas Chili Con Carne or Spaghetti sauce in a slow cooker. They demand a thickness that this chicken chili doesn’t really need. So, as the fall/winter season knocks on the kitchen door, this is definitely an easy favorite in our family. The original recipe is not mine, but I have adapted it e.g. to include our Vendéen mogettes, and I have also devised a vegetarian version which I’ll share at a later date. Note: I made this while on holiday, and shopping for ingredients locally, I was lucky to find canned black beans – otherwise I would have made dry black beans first and then rinsed them. The mogettes I had with me …

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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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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: The transfer, for consideration or not, and the use of all categories of fireworks, including firecrackers and pyrotechnic articles are prohibited for individuals throughout the department of Vendée from Monday, December 30, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. to Thursday January 2, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. In addition, the prefect also issued a decree for a temporary ban on buying “take-away” fuel during the same time period. The purchase and transport of any fuel by means of jerry cans, containers, cans or flasks is prohibited from Monday December 30, 2019 at 9 a.m. to Thursday January 2, 2020 at 9 a.m. throughout the Vendée department, with the …

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Winter sightseeing: Logis de la Chabotterie

Largely regarded as the most important historical monument in the Vendee, the beautiful Logis de la Chabotterie presents an opportunity for sightseeing year-round. Spring through summer, the gardens thrive with colour and fragrance. But the Chabotterie manor and its surrounding park are especially charming in fall and winter, ideal seasons for an invigorating walk and to warm the soul with the beauty and knowledge of history.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 …

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Churches & Chapels in the Vendée

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 – MAngles (85750) **Eglise Notre-Dame des Anges      Romanesque architecture and one of the most beautiful religious monuments …

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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 1 butternut squash peeled and sliced into 1 cm portions or in fingers 1 red paprika (bell pepper), washed, seeds removed, cut into chunks 1 medium sized carrot peeled, then washed, and shopped into strips 1 courgette, peeled and shopped into strips Optional: spinach, washed, …

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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.What are the Journées Régionales de la Visite d’Entreprise ? Over the course of 3 days, the group Visitez nos Entreprises and participating businesses bring the visitor to the heart of their production workshops, manufacturing laboratories,  farms and factories to showcase the quality and diversity of products created or grown in Pays de la Loire and thus, also in the Vendée. 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 …

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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

Welcome to the European Heritage days anno 2019! On the 3rd weekend of September, everywhere in Europe including our lovely Département du Vendée, we are given a great opportunity to visit popular historical locations and monuments as well as sites that are rarely open to the public for free or at a reduced rate. Historically, how did the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine or European Heritage days begin? The French Ministry of Culture began the event  La Journée Portes Ouvertes in 1984. In the following year, at the 2nd European Conference of Ministers responsible for Architectural Heritage, the French Minister of Culture proposed that the project be internationalised under the European council. The Netherlands joined with their own Open Monumentendag in 1987, followed by Sweden and Ireland in 1989, and Belgium and Scotland in 1990. In 1991 the events were united as European Heritage Days at the initiative of the Council of Europe. Why do …

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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) Opening hours From Tuesday to Friday 06h30 to 13h00, and from 15h00 to 19h00 Saturday and Sunday 06h00 to 13h00, closed in the afternoon On Mondays, the Vival convenience store remains your source for fresh bread The bread vending machine on the main street through the village also remains operational. Merci Mouilleron-Saint-Germain, Vincent, Sébastien, Adeline and Léa!Share this Post

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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!A brief history – What is prehistory? It is the period of time that begins with the appearance of human beings (approx. five million years ago) and ends with the invention of writing(approx. 6,000 years ago). The prehistory is divided into three stages: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. These consecutive periods are determined by the human sociological progression and evolving e.g. in survival practices, tools and the use of pottery.  What is Neolithic and which prehistoric time period does it span? The Neolithic transition (when human beings made the progression …

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Support Fête de l’Agriculture de Vendée & your local farmers!

We bid you caution: large machines and fascination ahead! Let us tell you all about how and where you can support our local farmers and the young Vendées farmers association  whose annual festival is one of our top recommended events in the Vendée! We don’t even mind telling you: we had so much fun during the 2018 edition we gave up on taking pictures so we could fully immerse ourselves in the experience!France, land of agriculture – with over half of its territory dedicated to farming, France is responsible for nearly one fifth of agricultural revenue in Europe (or 1.5% of French GDP). The raising of livestock and cultivation of crops is as important now as it was centuries ago. Nurturing the flavours of the land (terroir) and the trade that follows, has not changed. Consumer demand, however, has. The average Joe’s lifestyle is bigger and busier than ever; we travel farther, …

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Make it a Saturday in Fontenay-le-Comte!

Located on the banks of the Vendée river and historically the former capital of the Vendée, Fontenay-le-Comte is picturesque at any day of the week. But on Saturday mornings there’s a popular market we don’t want you to miss!A brief introduction to the architectural pearl of the Vendée… City of Art and History  – Like the rest of the Vendée, the area of what is today the beautiful city of Fontenay-Le-Comte has seen settlements since prehistoric times. The land was rich with game for the hunting, and at the time the area bordered the Gulf of Poitou which meant abundant fishing. For a long time, Fontenay was a port on the ocean. On the small islands dotting the Gulf, abbeys were taking shape under Roman rule. Throughout the next centuries, monks used an ingenious way to claim the land and make it fertile, creating a vast landscape of canals used …

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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!Good photography is a powerful business tool. It’s also FREE! Summer is an ideal time to get started.Introduction to our tips and tricks As mentioned in our ebook “23 Effective Marketing Strategies for your Hospitality Business” (we’re …

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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? American musician Joel Cohen came up with the concept it in 1976 when he worked at Radio France-Musique in Paris. Celebrating music on the longest day of the year was his idea to give the station a boost. It was the first and …

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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 …