Welcome to the European Heritage days of 2020! The 3rd weekend of September ranks among the best weekends of the year for us! We challenge ourselves with a spring around our lovely Département du Vendée for the opportunity to visit well-known historical locations and monuments as well as sites that are rarely open to the public, for free or at a reduced rate. Join us for a list of options this year.
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 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 19 and 20 September, 2020! Please come prepared to wear a facemask and follow the requested rules.
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 so many events. We hope that no matter where you are in the Vendée, this list will allow you to build a fun itinerary for both days! Please use the 'directions' links to plug in your point of departure to get directions specific to you!
**Expositions of airplane wrecks and other WWII vehicles - FREE
Saturday 19th Sept from 15h00 - 19h00 and from 21h00 to 23h00
Sunday 20th Sept from 10h30 to 18h00
Directions to La Boirie
**Donjon De Moricq FREE - Sunday 20th September 10h00 -12h00 reservations 07.84.96.60.39
The current square tower was built anno 1435 by Régnault Girard, mayor of La Rochelle to protect the port of Moricq which exported wine, grain and timber to La Rochelle and Bordeaux. More information
**Eglise Notre-Dame des Anges FREE - registration at tourist office or 07.84.96.60.39 (space limited)
Romanesque architecture. A guided tour of church and crypt will bring the public between history and legend in one of the most beautiful religious monuments of Bas-Poitou.
Guided tour from 10h00 to 11h30 on Saturday 19th (exceptional opportunity)
**Guided visit through heart of the village (families) - Saturday 19th Sept 16h00 to 17h30
- registration at tourist office (space limited)
Discover symbols, rituals and traditions... and secrets. For children and families.
Place du Champ de Foire
**Château D'Aprémont FREE - Saturday and Sunday from 14h00 - 18h00
Renaissance castle, on the site of a medieval fortress.
**Château De La Guignardière (20% OFF CASTLE VISIT, 40% OFF PARK)
Renaissance chateau, completely restored. Also known as Chateau des Avonturiers with some prehistoric monuments on site.
Open 11h00 to 19h00 on both Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th
**Medieval garden discovery tour - FREE
Open 10h00 to 17h00 on both Saturday and Sunday.
**Donjon de Bazoges-En-Pareds (DONJON 2Euros, children free and MEDIEVAL GARDEN and MUSEUM)
XIVth century Donjon, medieval garden and museum. Tours of the Donjon by costumed guides at 15h, 16h, 17h and 18h.
Open 10h00 to 19h00 Saturday and Sunday.
**Eglise Romane de Beaufou FREE - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 09h00 to 19h00
Romanesque church of Our Lady of the Annunciation (XIIth century), belonging to the Abbaye de Marmoutier-les-Tours (Indre-et-Loire). In March 1568, the church was burned by the Huguenots. restored in 1652.
**Porch of the Old Church - FREE - Saturday and Sunday from 10h30 to 18h30
**Château et Colombier de Bessay (no discount) - Saturday 19th from 10h00 to 12h30 and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 16h00
XVI and XVIIth centuries including a square dovecote and a Renaissance round tower with medieval character and Italian Renaissance decoration.
King Henri IV stayed there in 1589.
**Abbaye De Trizay (normal rate)
Former Cistercian abbey founded in the XIIth century by monks of the abbey of Pontigny. An organized circuit with comments by a guide and explanatory panels displayed at each of the important places of the Abbey. A conference room will present to the visitor the steps taken by the new owners since their acquisition, illustrated with photos and plans.
Saturday, September 19 from 14h00 to 19h00
Sunday, September 20 from 09h00 to 12h30; 14h00 to 17h00
**Château de la Cressonnière - donation - Saturday 19th September from 10h00 to 18h00
XVth century chateau recently renovated as wedding or events venue - privately owned
**Maison du Maître de Digues - Sunday September 20 from 9h30 to 12h30 and from 14h00 to 17h15 FREE
Discover the role of the dike and the Master of Dikes in the Marais poitevin. Special attention for children (no dogs please)
Directions (tourism office)
**Logis de la Girardière - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 - 18h00 FREE
Château and outbuildings with perimeter walls built around a large square courtyard, includes towers and a chapel. XVIth Century (private)
**Church of Cheffois - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 10h00 - 18h00 FREE
Beautiful fortified church in picturesque village - XIII and XVth century
**Château de Commequiers - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 11h00 - 18h00 FREE
XVth century octagonal stronghold with 8 towers will exceptionally reveal all its secrets to you on the occasion of European Heritage Days
**Gites Communaux Cugand - Sunday 20th September 11h00 to 18h00 -FREE
Parcours communal gîtes, moulin à foulon, lavoir du Doué
**Eglise Saint-Pierre - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 09h00 - 19h00 -FREE
Built in the 1845 (19th century), this church has three naves and the central vault has a coffered ceiling.
**Château des Essarts - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 - 19h00 -donation
Guided visit and walk through the 17ha park
**Château De Terre Neuve (Discount on Sunday only)
We LOVE château de Terre Neuve and highly recommend this lovely Renaissance home - privately owned and beautifully preserved with true treasures
Website. More information
Open: 10h00 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00
**Fontaine des 4 Tias - Saturday/ Sunday from 14h00 - 18h00 - FREE
First classical fountain in France (1542) - emblematic monument of the Renaissance
**Eglise Saint-Hilaire FREE - Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00
XIth century, restored in the XVth and burned down in the XVIth century. Beautiful Romanesque portal
Open: Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00
**Prieure De Foussais (Ancien) - Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00 FREE
**Protestant Temple - Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00 FREE
1843 in Greek style - a sober church with schoolroom and teacher's quarters
*****Reach the island by ferry*****
**Vieux-Chateau - free access from 11h00 to 18h00. Info
**Abbaye Royale de Lieu-Dieu - not to miss!! - not free but inexpensive - highly recommended!!!
Guided tours by the owners on Saturday 19th 10h00, 11h00, 14h00, 15h00 and 16h00.
La Barre-De-Monts (85550)
**Le Daviaud FREE ENTRY
Ecomuseum Marais Vendeen open from 14h00 to 19h00 - website
La Bruffière (85530)
**Eglise Sainte Radegonde - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 09h00 to 18h00 - FREE
La Chaize-Giraud (85220)
**Eglise La Chaize Giraud
La Chaize-Le-Vicomte (85310)
**Eglise Saint-Nicolas - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 15h00 to 15h30 - FREE
**Musée Ornithologique Charles-Payraudeau - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Directions to the village
**Georges Mazurelle Hospital Center - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 09h00 to 18h00 - FREE
presentation of the architectural evolution of the main site of the establishment, from its Napoleonic construction to buildings of High Environmental Quality, whose construction was designed in conjunction with the medical teams, the evolution architectural aspects of buildings being closely linked to the evolution of care.
**Haras de la Vendée - Saturday 19th from 14h00 to 18h00 and Sunday 20th and from 10h00 to 19h00 FREE
Free visit of facilities and stables with horse riding demonstrations, interactive workshops and performances to music
*****The complete program for La Roche-sur-Yon here*****
Le Bernard (85560)
**Eglise Saint Martin - Fri/Sat/Sun from 10h00 to 18h00 FREE
Le Boupère (85510)
**Eglise Saint-Pierre - Fri/Sat/Sun from 09h00 to 18h00 FREE
A unique fortified church of which the front of the buttresses are pierced with archers and gunboats, and is connected by a covered walk protected by a crenelated parapet. The fortifications date from the XVth century. Audio-guides (1h visit) are available for free at the Café des Sports (19 rue du General de Gaulle - 02 51 91 41 39)
Open Saturday: 9h00 to 18h00 and on Sunday from 9h00 to 13h00
Les Landes-Genusson (85130)
**Cite des Oiseaux - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 09h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Birdlife along a discovery route
**Château de l'Hermenault - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 (5 euros)
- Not to miss manmade canal, veg garden, dovecote and absolutely stunning barn.
**Eglise Saint-Nicolas FREE
Les Sables d'Olonne (85100)
**Abbaye Saint-Jean d’Orbestier - Open from 11h00 to 19h00 both days FREE
Recently restored, the abbey was built in the twelfth century under the leadership of William IX, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou. The nearby forest was Richard de Lionheart's favourite hunting ground. Reservations required Tel:02 51 23 16 00
**Prieuré de Saint Nicholas - Saturday/ Sunday 10h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Erected by the religious of Holy Cross of Talmont in the XIth century, the priory was looted during the Wars of Religion, restored by Richelieu, and for 100 years (XVIII and IXXth) became a fort, guard house and powder magazine
**Eglise Notre dame du Bon Port - FREE
Church is open daily but at 16h00 (both days) there is a guided tour by the Association of Friends of Religious Heritage.
Be aware this church is undergoing restoration at the moment
Located on Place d'eglise, Rue Bisson (near the boardwalk - walking distance from large car parks in the city)
**Chateau Saint-Clair, Tour Arundel - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 17h00 - FREE
Exhibitions and 16th century stronghold
**La Villa Tertrais-Chailley - Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Built in 1864-1867 in the style of the second empire with a later belle époque renovation.
**NEW this year - Logis du Fenestreau - Saturday and Sunday at 10h00 ONLY - by reservation - FREE
Former residence of the Lords of Olonne at the end of the 12th century, this house was built in the 15th century by a Sablais shipowner Robert Bouhier.
Reservations required Tel:02 51 23 16 00
Directions*****The complete offer of Journees du Patrimoine at Les Sables d'Olonnes here*****
**Visites commentées FREE
- Hôtel de Ville - Saturday 19th from 14h30 to 15h05; Sunday 20th from 14h30 to 15h05 and from 17h00 to 17h30
- Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption and cloister - Saturday 19th from 14h00 to 14h45 and 17h15 to 18h00; on Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 14h45 and 17h15 to 18h00
Directions to Lucon
**Ancienne Abbaye FREE - Saturday from 10h00 to 14h30 to 21h45
Free visit as well as Renaissance concerts, dances and texts by the Compagnie Outre Mesure ** (this is FUN!!)
**Logis de la Chabotterie - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 19h00 - FREE
Not to miss! Visit and concerts- see our article
**Chapelle Du Pont FREE
**Chapelle Saint Lazare
**Gravesite of Georges Clemenceau - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00 FREE
See our article and directions
**Eglise Saint-Hilaire Crypt of the church - Sunday 20th from 10h30 to 18h00 - FREE
Exposition urban architect William Cargill and live music
Directions to Mouilleron(en-Pareds)-St-Germain
**La Cantaudière - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 19h00
Private but open on this weekend only. Built in 1578, the building was initially a small fortress with four towers, ramparts, and a drawbridge (ramparts one tower were removed)
The property was purchased in 1855 by Charles Duchaine and is, to this day, owned by his descendants
**Château de la Rivière - Sunday 20th September - FREE
Tours of the gardens with over 50 species of plants and trees. Beautiful! at 10h30; 14h00; 15h30; 17h00; 18h30 ) 1.5hrs each Video
**L Îlot les Tours - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 20h00 - FREE
Private seignoral château from the 17th century featuring one of the largest dovecotes in France!!!!
Free visit or tour by the owners as you wish with possibility to see the cellars of the old chateau
**Réserve Biologique de Nalliers-Mouzeuil - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 - FREE
146ha of natural park and two hiking trails; exhibition of nature photography by Michel Pette
**Moulin de Rambourg - Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Guided visits of this beautiful watermill - reservations 02 51 36 00 85
**Abbaye Saint-Vincent FREE
Founded in 1068, it was declared a royal abbey in 1141 by King Louis VII, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Except for the Romanesque cloister, it was largely destroyed in the Wars of Religion, and restored. Animations and great with children.
Open Saturday from 10h00 to 12h30 and from 13h30 to 18h00. Sunday from 10h00 to 18h00. Recommended!
**Musée Du Château FREE
Built in the XIIth century, this medieval castle is one of the most well-preserved in western France.
Free visit of the castle-museum with the exhibition "A Musée-vous +!" and demonstrations of Viking fights in the courtyard.
Open from 10h00 to 18h00
**Eglise Notre-Dame Du Vieux Pouzauges - SUPERB! Sat and Sun from 10h00 to 18h00 - FREE
**Eglise Saint-Jacques FREE
**Lavoir des Soriettes - Saturday 19th at 14h00; 15h00; 16h00 and 17h00 - FREE
**Vieux-Château - exceptional opening Sunday 10h00 - 13h00 and 14h00 - 18h00 - FREE
XIth century fortress with its 350-meter long curtain walls. The donjon, built in the Poitou stone, is 26m high and was transformed into a residence by Catherine de Thouars, wife of the famous Gilles de Rais (Bluebeard) in the XVth century, with a granite spiral staircase, carved fireplaces and windows.
**Eglise Saint-Marthe FREE
**Eglise de Puyravault FREE
**Chapelle Ste Marie De Reaumur - FREE
At the origin of this chapel lies the legend of the Virgin Mary to have provided a spring to quench the thirst of a knight.
Fri/Sat?Sun from 09h00 to 19h00
**La Maison de Libellules (Dragonfly house) - Saturday 19 and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 19h00 - FREE
Great with children (also disabled and in motorized wheelchair). Demonstrations, dragonfly garden, exhibitions and biodiverse garden and much more
**Logis des Grois - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 9h30 to 12h30 and from 14h30 to 18h00
Discover the history of this château during the wars of religion and the revolution + guided tour of life in 'autarky' and its organization
**Château de la Preuille - Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Lovely castle, gardens only; beautiful location and lovely owners who have organised a day-long of animations, small market, equestrian events, music and history. Vineyard next door.
**Prehisto site de Cairn - Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Demonstrations of the hunt around Neolithic monuments and menhir workshop.
An afternoon to live as a tribe and discover the Neolithic era
The manor of the Chevillonnière XVth century has been restored since 2008, but the XIVth century ramparts have only recently been discovered and completely reassembled: 110 m long with 2 small corner towers overlooking the river Le Petit Lay. STUNNING!!!
Saturday, September 19 - 11h00 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00 - (House tours by the owners @2 EUROS pp; children FREE)
Sunday, September 20 - 10h00 to 18h00 - Equestrian events in the garden: national driving competition - FREE
Directions GPS 46°41'23.2"N 1°07'49.9"W
**Château De Saint-Juire (Saturday 19th - 10h30 to 12h30 and 14h30 to 17h30; Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 17h00) - FREE
Private. History of the castle and grounds - huge moat with garden!!
**Moulin de Bois - Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 18h00 - FREE
1835 windmill complete restored - operated until 1910. There are four more windmills nearby. Tour.
**L'Audrière Chapel - Saturday 19 and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 - FREE
Guided or free visit of this XVIth century chapel - archeological excavations in progress (may be in scaffold as is currently being restored)
**L'Abbaye Royale (REDUCED RATE 3 euros, FREE UNDER 7)
Guided tour of the gardens, refectory, scriptorium, the chapter house as well as (uniquely) the dining room and the other old buildings. Includes musical interludes. Highly recommended!!!
It does get very busy here as this is normally a private summer residence.
SCHEDULE: SATURDAY 19th at 10h00, 11h00, 14h30, 15h00, 15h30, 16h00, 16h30 ; SUNDAY 20TH at 14h30, 15h00, 15h30, 16h00, 16h30
**Eglise Saint-Pierre FREE
**Eglise De Chalais FREE
Exhibit of sculptures by a local artist from 10h00 to 18h00
**Prieuré de Grammont - Open Saturday from 10h00 to 12h30 and from 13h30 to 18h00; and on Sunday 10h00 to 19h00 - FREE
Beautiful little abbey from the XIIth century (see article) with its murals, inner courtyard etc... (STUNNING highly recommend!)
**Logis De La Chevallerie (3.5 EUROS pp/ FREE up to 12)
History and website. Open for guided tours and concert from 9h30 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h15 on Saturday and Sunday
Château de la Chevallerie is one of the 12 remarkable Logis of Vendée. Stunning. Tours by the owners
**Church de Simon-la-Vineuse - Saturday 19 and Sunday 20th from 9h00 to 17h00 - FREE
**Moulin a Vent De Rairé - Saturday 19 and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 18h00 - (REDUCED RATE)
Built around 1555, the Moulin de Rairé originally belonged to the lord of the Garnache, Jacques de la Touche. The windmill was spared from the wars in the Vendée and is in fact the only windmill in France which has never stopped functioning. Website
**Château de La Flocellière - Tour on Sunday at 15h00 and at 17h00 - (tarif unclear)
Tour by the owners of this stunning castle with a very long history vrom the XIth through the Renaissance. WOW!
**Château Féodal - Saturday 19th from 1h30 to 18h30 and Sunday 20th from 10h00 to 19h00 - (REDUCED RATE)
Remodeled in the 15th century on the foundations of a castle built around the year one thousand, with moats, polygonal enclosure, towers, covered walkway, latrines and much more. This feudal castle is one of the best examples of medieval military architecture in the Vendée and not to miss!
Our article on Castles in the Vendee for more info. Website
**Château de Talmont - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 10h30 to 18h00 (Tarif unclear)
Incredible medieval castle with a rich history - see our article Castles in the Vendee
Details - see their website
**Château De Tiffauges - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 19h00- FREE
Geoffrey Thouars built the castle in the 12th Century, its ramparts and towers protecting the village by the Crume river; but it is perhaps more (in)famous for Gilles de Rais or Bluebeard.
Castle is open on Saturday and Sunday with free entry and demonstrations of the war machines (no other animations) more info see our article
**Bread oven - open Sunday from 10h00 to 18h00 - FREE
**Jardins du Loriot - Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th from 14h00 to 19h00 - not FREE
**Place Charles de Gaulle - Suday from 15h00 to 17h00 - FREE
NOTE: We couldn't possible include every single event in this list as the Vendee is vast and with an interesting history. We included locations that seemed interesting to us, and a few churches and chapels.
** Join our Facebook Group for more announcements and charing of experiences.
Chateau de la Preuille
Donjon De Moricq
Château De La Guignardière
Château de l'Ilôt-les-Tours
LOGIS DE LA CHABOTTERIE
Abbaye de trizay
Chateau de la Baugisiere
Abbaye de Maillezais
Chateau de Terre-Neuve
Chateau de l'Hermenault
Chateau de la Cantaudière
Luçon Cathedral CLoisters
Château de La Flocellière
Château de Pouzauges
Château de Tiffauges
Logis des Grois
Abbaye Royale de Lieu Dieu
Chateau de Noirmoutier
Moulin de Rambourg/
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