Journées Européennes du Patrimoine 2021 in the Vendée: exceptional openings!

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.

Route Planning and Preparation – Let yourself be guided and intrigued by the notion that sometimes the public is given access to things that are not normally open. By meticulously planning and keeping your route to a smaller area of the Vendée it is possible to see amazing historical gems of the Vendée!

Château de la Grève
- Saint Martin des Noyers 85140 

The Château de la Grève is one of the few medieval castles still standing in the Vendée and is very complete: many elements of medieval architecture have been preserved, as well as remarkable features such as the framework of the main tower, mullioned windows, vaulted cellar, medieval fireplaces, numerous outbuildings and more. Aditionally, the archaeological portion of the site is quite exceptional featuring a complex water system with its moats, bridges and causeway (the pond and moats are currently dry).

Additional information:
Visits to the interior and exterior of the castle and the...La Grève,
Tarif: 3€/adult (children free), free visit
Address – 6 La Grève, 85140 Saint-Martin-des-Noyers
GPS coordinates –  46°42′57″N, 1°12′38″W; enter your location
Opening hours:
18/09 from 10am to 6pm
19/09 from 10am to 6pm

Vieux Chateau de Bournezeau
Vieux Château de Bournezeau
Bournezeau 85480
Vieux Château de Bournezeau lies at the heart of a vast seigniory from medieval times when it was a fortified castle. Today, a few buildings and a square island bounded by a moat remain. The castle is of great heritage interest and was listed as a Historic Monument as recently as 2020. Visits guided by a multidisciplinary team of historian, heritage architect and landscape specialists.
  • 10 am Reception of visitors
  • 10.30 am to 12 noon: cross conference led by Pol Vendeville historian (Chroniques Conseil) and Louise Dufour heritage architect (ANTAK).
    Presentation of the site, its history and architecture.
  • 12.00: speeches and a drink. Picnic possible.
  • 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm: Guided tours (3 groups of 30 minutes each) and free wandering around outside with a marker of the remarkable build and landscape elements.

Additional information:
GPS 46° 38′ 12″ N, 1° 10′ 09″ O
Address: rue de l'AbbayeVille, Bournezeau 85480
Tel : 02 51 40 71 29
Tarif: free visit
Opening hours:
18/09 from 10h00 to 17h00

Prieure de Treize Vents Vendee
 Prieuré à Treize-Vents 
- Treize-Vents 85590

The term priory refers to a monastery, most often subordinate to a larger abbey. It is placed under the authority of a prior. The priory of Treize-Vents depended on the abbey of Marmoutier (near Tours). The monks settled here around the 6th century, lending the prieuré stories of peace, war, revolution and misc. ownership throughout its 1500 year history. Some highlights include:

  • 1065: First written document relating to the religious history of the Priory.
  • 22 May 1305: Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux, stops at the Priory. Shortly after he was electied to the Holy See, enthroned and appointed Pope of Avignon under the name of Clement V.
  • 1562: During the Wars of Religion, Lord Eschallard de la Boulaye, one of the main Protestant leaders in the region, drove the monks out of the Priory, however, prevented the church from being burnt down because it contained the tomb of his ancestors.

Additional information:
Address: Le Prieuré, 22 rue Rémy René-Bazin, 85590 Treize-Vents. Free visit
Opening hours:
18/09 from 14h30 to 15h30
18/09 from 16h00 to 17h00

Château de Beaupuy in the Vendee
Château de Beaupuy - Mouilleron-le-Captif 85000

Closed to the public throughout the year, this guided tour of the Château de Beaupuy is a great first opportunity to see it! The feudal land of Beaupuy was named Bello-Podio after the homage of Alphonse (1011.) In 1871, Count Henry-Louis de Tinguy de Nesmy had the present neo-Gothic castle built near a Renaissance manor house from the 15th century, fortified in the 16th century, known as the old castle of Beaupuy. In 1949, his grandson, Jean de Tinguy-(Vexiau) inherited the property.

The estate and castle with its landscaped park was bought in 2000 by the municipality. More of the chateau's history:

  • 1626, Jacques II Chauvinière, baron of Beaupuy in 1642, lieutenant of the king's hunting party.
  • 1650-1750, Chauvinière family
  • 1780, Pierre Gourdon
  • Around 1835, Count Henry-Louis-Ernest Tinguy de Nesmy (1814-1891), known as Tinguy-le-loup, because he was a wolf hunter in the Vendée and Morbihan. Folklore says that he killed nearly 2000 wolves, a story that inspired Georges Bordonove to write the novel "Chien de feu", about the adventures of a wolf hunter in the forest of Brocéliande. He was a member of the municipal council of Mouilleron-le-Captif from 1840.
  • 1891, Joseph-Louis-Marie Tinguy de Nesmy (1863-1907)
  • 1907, Tinguy de Nesmy family
  • 1949-1973, Jean de Tinguy-Vexiau (1895-1987), adopted son in 1919 of Raoul de Vexiau
  • 2000 - Municipality of Mouilleron-le-Captif

Additional information:
Address: Château de Beaupuy; 85000 Mouilleron-le-Captif Free visit
GPS coordinates – 46 ° 42 ′ 47 ″ north, 1 ° 26 ′ 18 ″ west
Tip: Nestled in lush greenery, the place is ideal for a stroll after visiting the castle
Opening hours:.
19/09 from 
09h30 to 17h00

Logis de Chaligny
- 85320 Sainte-Pexine

The Logis de Chaligny is a very complete example of what a “house in the fields” was in the 17th century: pleasure garden, vegetable garden, fruit garden, herb garden, river and woods. Located between the plain and the bocage and the Marais Poitevin , the logis has been known since Gallo-Roman times. Often occupied by farmers, the mansion has not undergone any alteration since the 18th century and as such provides a valuable glimpse into Renaissance architecture of the Bas-Poitou . The house is made up of the manoir and the farm framing a large interior courtyard, one of the best preserved in Vendée, including outbuildings, gardens and landscape. A great opportunity!

Additional information:
Address: Chaligny
85320 Sainte-Pexine
GPS 46° 31′ 54,12″ N, 1° 06′ 42,48″ O 
Free visit
Opening hours:
18/09 from 10h30 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 19h00
19/09 from 10h30 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 19h00

Forge de la Tulevriere in the Vendee
Forge de la Tulévrière 
- 85670 Saint Etienne du bois

Discover this old 16th century house transformed into a forge in 1913.

After 3 generations of blacksmiths from the same family there was a period of dormancy, until young blacksmith Arthur Muller took over the activity in a building next door. He will introduce you to his trade and its evolution over time and talk about the history of this remarkable site.

Additional information:
Address: 7 La Tulevriere, 85670 Saint-Étienne-du-Bois
GPS 46° 51'1.17"N, 1° 33'2.24"W
Opening hours:
18/09 from 10h00 to 18h00 
19/09 from 10h00 to 18h00 

La Chevillonnière in the Vendee
Manoir de la Chevillonnière
- 85480 Saint-Hilaire-le-Vouhis

This lovingly restored Seigniorial manor house from early 15th century (later enlarged) retains its original interior plasterwork, painted ceilings and architectural details such as enormous beams, stone and wooden spiral staircase, windows and carved doors. This private home is a GEM. It was the home of poet Pierre de Ronsard's mother. NOTE: the current owner discovered the ancient ramparts which had tumbled down the hillside into the river le Petit Lay at the bottom of the property. A number of stones were painstakingly recovered and the ramparts (partially) restored, a story that is likely to be continued. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND A VISIT HERE! 

Additional information:
Guided tour of the interior and exterior of the manor. Small fee
Address: Route de Ste-Cécile, 85480 Saint-Hilaire-le-Vouhis
Tel : 02 51 34 79 98
Opening hours:
18/09  - 14h00 to 14h45; 15h00 to 15h45; 16h00 to 16h45; 17h00 to 17h45
19/09 - 11h00 to 11h45; 14h30 to 15h15; 15h30 to 16h15; 16h30 to 17h15; 17h30 to 18h15

Four à chaux de Benet
- 85490 Benet

The lime kiln has been listed as a historical monument since 1994, it is composed of its original quarry, a sieving plant (factory for grinding, extinguishing and sifting before bagging) and 3 lime kilns all built in the style of the architect Vauban. 50 workers worked in this set at the beginning of 1900 and the fuel was coal and came from the Faymoreau mines 30 km away. The transport of coal and the shipment of lime was done through the nearby railroad. Its history is summarized by 300 photos by Michel Mullot (1975). The workers are at their workstations and thus allow visitors to concretely imagine this visit.

Additional information:
Guided tours in French and English, exhibitions and stands of local producers and creators. Refreshment and catering on site. Free visit
Address: Entrée pont de Lesson, 85490 Benet
Opening hours:
18/09 from 14h00 to 18h00

Menhir de la Crulière
- 85470 Brem-sur-Mer

This colossal menhir is of a block of quartzite in a pyramidal form of 2.30 meters high with an average thickness of 1.15 meters and a broad base of approximately 2.55 meters. Its weight is estimated at 8 tons! In 1901, an alignment of three planted stones had been reported 300 meters to the west of the menhir of La Crulière but have unfortunately been destroyed.

According to the legend, the block would have been thrown by Satan to crush a 15 years old boy and the cow who had given him his soul.

Additional information:
Self guided tour
Address: Chemin du Menhir, 85470 Brem-sur-Mer
GPS: 46° 36′ 27″ nord, 1° 48′ 35″ ouest
Opening hours:
18/09 - 8:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
19/09 - 8:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

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