View Post

Château de l’Hermenault and Garesché: connecting Vendée to world history

Chatting with the current châtelaine of Château de l’Hermenault, it came to light that the person who sold the beautiful castle to her forefather in 1806 had been Daniel Garesché, mayor of La Rochelle in 1791-1792. In our pleasantly lengthy conversation, the kind châtelaine said “Garesché family is fascinating. You should look it up.” … So, we did. We found in Daniel Garesché a man who was part of a veritable dynasty. A family that, to put it mildly, left their at times muddy boot prints on the history of France, Haiti, and the United States of America. With the motto “Jamais sans Espérance” (Never Without Hope) to lend a strong hand, it is the story of close-knit family built on patriarchal opportunism and survival spanning centuries, and touching the Vendée along the way. To truly understand the opportunistic make-up of this family it is necessary to travel back to …

View Post

Out of the pan into the pan-demic

The sun shines through my window overlooking views of the picturesque medieval town of Fontenay-le-Comte. The warm weather of the summer recently passed and is replaced by a crisp autumn sky. I’ve been here one month now and, on my way to fully integrating myself in the ‘vie français’. Let me introduce myself; my name is Liam, I am 28 years old and, like many of us, have taken the somewhat brave decision to leave my native land, family and friends, job security, house, and pub, in favour of new life in the Vendée. After completing my degree and PGCE in music I joined the teaching profession and taught in secondary schools in Buckinghamshire. I ran choirs, rang bells, joined a band, whilst keeping the thought of moving to France in the back of mind for a later date. Fast forward to the 23rd June 2016: 52% of the country …

View Post

William Chevillon invites us to discover Fontenay-le-Comte

While we are invited to rediscover the nearby territories without travelling too far, the Centre vendéen de recherches historiques (Sorbonne-University Scientific Council) is publishing a new book on the history, heritage and development of Fontenay-le-Comte. “À la découverte de Fontenay-le-Comte” is a book designed to offer a comprehensive look at the town, from prehistory to the present day, in all its diversity of landscapes and heritage. When I was offered this project on the history and cultural heritage of Fontenay-le-Comte, I thought it would be interesting to draw on what already existed and not simply evoke a past as glorious as often looked back on with nostalgia. Writing about a city is not just writing about people and monuments, it is also about trying to make people understand a global structure and to inscribe, for example, social housing and public art in the continuation of the primitive constitution of an …