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Market Days in the Vendée

Outdoor markets in France are typically held in the mornings from 8h00 to 13h00. Which isn’t to say that all vendors are up and running by then! Arriving by 9h00 you’ll find the markets in full swing and the locals are out in droves to stock up on fruits and veg for the week. What can you find at the beloved village markets? Anything from cheeses, breads, organic/ bio, artisanal farm products, sausages, fish,  multi-cultural and freshly prepared street food, kitchen or other utensils, baskets, flowers, clothing, crafts, and more. (UPDATED JULY 2021) What’s in season? Markets are not only a great way to discover an area in France, and people watching whilst enjoying a coffee or a carafe of wine on a terrace… it’s a good time to practice the language. Our list of seasonal fruits and vegetables now include a glossary of their French word beside it.  Enjoy!Winter …

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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 Chabotterie, Château …

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Hidden Corners in the Vendée

Driving through endless farm fields across the rolling hills of the Vendée, adorable villages present themselves from a distance with ancient church steeples peeking over trees or clay rooftops. Why not slow down time itself to discover their hidden secrets? At inthevendee.com we swear by this method of travel. It’s a great way to explore in all tranquility and occasionally meet likeminded people for a chat on the unbeaten paths of France.Prehistoric and Romanesque – How much do you really love history? Or adventure? Enough to ignore the incessant ‘recalculating’ voice of the GPS and point the nose of the car toward the slightest hint there may be something unique or interesting to see?  The hand of History –  Have you ever heard about the age-old tradition of gathering to wash laundry in a village pond still being honored? Or discovered a centuries-old chapel in a picturesque valley? Have you ever touched a circa …

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The days to avoid driving in France summer 2021

France is the most popular travel destination in Europe with under normal circumstances over eighty-one-million worldwide visitors per year, but it is unclear how the Covid-19 pandemic will affect traffic on French motorways in 2020. France typically sees top traffic every July and August weekend. However, the outer European borders of countries where the virus-related health situation is not under control, remain closed. Travelers’ fears of contracting the disease abroad will also have an adverse affect on travel to or through France. This year, however, French natives may decide to vacation in-country, choosing a driving holiday over flying which may balance things out again. Additionally, the extra measures put in place at borders to control and to trace the spread of the disease, may put people off traveling. It’s also important to note new peeks of Corona virus in certain areas such as Catalonia in Spain, with governments (e.g. Belgium) …

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Castles to see in the Vendée

Not all châteaux in the Vendée are open to the public. In fact, most are privately owned, sometimes with holiday accommodations available. The selection of twenty Vendéen castles in this article represent those accessible to view in high-season or year-round, or those which are open for sightseeing, reenactment spectacles, medieval festivals, and adventure parks.Is the Vendée paved with castles? – Yes and no. From medieval, to renaissance or neo-renaissance-style castles, and even some art-nouveau style ones, the number of chateaux in the Vendée is quite astounding. But most of them are private residences tucked away in sleepy villages or seemingly endless forests. You may run into them quite randomly or look for them in the 3rd weekend of September each year, when many have events or an open house in light of the European Heritage days (Journées Patrimoine) It’s all about the medieval – If you know just a little …

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Journées du Patrimoine 2020: list of places to see in the Vendée

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 …

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Where Vendéens can see Le Tour de France September 2020

Are you excited? WE ARE! At inthevendee.com we are fervent ‘course’ fanatics from the winter cyclo-cross season to the Classic Road Races to the big tours. Of course, nothing is as fantabulous as Le Tour and everything that surrounds moving this massive production across the streets of France. And yes, we know that’s not a word… but it’s a word at hour house when it comes to everything cycling. So, we will be gathering all possible information we can find because we want you and your guests to experience the circus that is Le Tour de France as well. Can you feel our enthusiasm? Yes? Good. Find updates here up to Monday 7th September. Because on the 8th and the 9th, we will be out of office! Dear readers, cyclists, caravan… the whole circus… See you somewhere along the route! See maps and local details below for stage 10 on …

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Le Tour 2020 postponed until August!

Vendéens have another opportunity to experience Le Tour de France in 2020. Due to the corona-virus pandemic, the most beloved sporting event in the world had to be postponed to August 2020. Le Grand Depart is scheduled for August 29th in Nice. Le Tour is set to arrive in Paris on September 20th, 2020.  UPDATE RESCHEDULED TOUR – see below schedule and map: Stage 10 on 08/09/2020: from Ile d’Oleron via the Marais and La Rochelle to Ile de Re (St. Martin de Re)  Stage 11 on 09/09/2020: from Chatelaillon-Plage to Poitiers Dear readers, cyclists, caravan… the whole circus… See you somewhere along the route! Having just watched the live presentation of the Tour de France 2020 with all its stages, we at inthevendee.com are excited! How wonderful it is to live in a place where every year we have the opportunity to travel to the spectacle that is Le …

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A radical life-choice and a patrimony restoration project

For 15 years we were happy on the east side of Paris. My husband, Paul, with his international career for Disney, and I myself was happy as a full-time mother of our four children. Life was good, stable, and every project in the house was done. But when our children became teenagers, Paul had seen too many airports, and I myself needed new challenges. More and more, we discussed what new adventures we could experience. For both of us it was clear: we wanted a change in life. On our wish list was: living in a sunnier area, closer to the sea, old building with character and a terrain with endless possibilities, close to a big city and a train station nearby. It seemed like searching for a needle in the haystack. In the spring of 2019 we made a road trip that started in Biarritz. In advance we made …

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Petra of Le Puy Ardouin tests own Tiny House accommodations during lock-down

After a long search for the perfect spot to live in France, Dutch couple Petra and Jan fell for their rustic farmhouse  ‘like a ton of bricks’. We can understand why! Among the ancient trees, across a sloping terrain, one can almost touch the sound of silence. Le Puy Ardouin is an earthly place that speaks for itself, that brings you back to simplicity. Sunday, March 15th. We’ve just completed a training course in the Netherlands and plan to drive to France tomorrow morning. We hear that from 18.00 that evening all restaurants in the Netherlands have to close their doors. We’re worried about making it back to our place in France, Le Puy Ardouin, because there’s a threat of a lock-down. That’s why we decide to leave immediately and drive through the night. On Monday morning we’re relieved to be greeted by our dog Lola and our friend Peter, who …

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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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The silver lining of lockdown at B&B Au Passage du Gois

When we asked to find a title or tag line for their blog post, Martine told us that she thought the motto of footballer Johan Cruyff was appropriate to describe their almost 2 months of lockdown. She found a balance in routine, in sunshine and in the wildness of her husband Hemko’s confinement beard.It doesn’t happen often, but for the first time in a long time there was something you couldn’t find on Google. What is a COVID-19 confinement in France, how does it work and when will it be over? But there wasn’t much information initially so, we thought… well, we’ll need to come up with some sort of answer ourselves. We sat around the table and made some kind of a plan of action. We said to each other: we will not be sleeping in, but get up at our normal time and get to work, because time …

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Owners of L’Etournerie Gites & Camping Vendée look to the future

We have asked a few Vendéen small business owners to discuss their plans for the future whilst coping through enforced quarantine. In a first installment, allow us to introduce you to Renée, René, Jacky, Emma & Mariecke, a Dutch family who own L’Etournerie Gites and Camping where tranquility, good food, and flowers are central to Dutch-French hospitality in the Vendée!In 15 years, you develop habits. Or maybe a rhythm. At the beginning of the year, you start looking at everything that needs to be done before you can announce that you are ‘open for business’ once again. You tick off all those things and then you put up the sign “OUVERT”. Only this year, a pandemic with the inevitable French government’s announcement of a complete lockdown starting March 17th, threw a spanner in the works. At the beginning, everything was so focused on China that no one in Europe was really …

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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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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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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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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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In the footsteps of Georges Clemenceau

When Georges Clemenceau left his birth village of Mouilleron-en-Pareds to take him to great heights and across the world, the Vendee stayed forever in his heart. We have lined up the places that were important to this very unique French president.Who was Georges Clemenceau? –  The enigmatic and much adored Vendéen-born Clemenceau was a controversial figure strong in journalism as well as politics. After spending his childhood here, he went on to Nantes where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Letters (1858) at the Lycée. After this achievement, Clemenceau went on to Paris to study medicine, (graduating in 1865) where he became a political activist and author. At the onset of his career as a senator, Clemenceau was a radical socialist in an extremely conservative senate. However, it wasn’t until after he broke away from the socialist party in 1906, that he became premier or prime minister of France (today’s …

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Le Puy du Fou for Notre Dame Cathedral

Has it been just hours since fire ravaged France’s most majestic cathedral? Did it really happen? In the Vendée we share immense sadness with the rest of France – and the world – for seeing the 855-year old structure so badly damaged. But today we’re also proud! Proud to be native or adopted Vendéens whose local star, historic theme park Le Puy du Fou, has announced a special performance of their evening spectacle La Cinéscénie with all proceeds to benefit the reconstruction of Notre Dame in Paris. DON’T MISS PARTICIPATING IN THIS AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO HELP REBUILD THE CATHEDRAL!! La Cinéscénie, the largest evening spectacle in the world, is sold out a year in advance! WHEN: Friday, June 7, at 22h30 (10:30PM) TICKETS ON SALE AT THE PARK FROM 17TH APRIL OR ONLINE from April 18th  A HUGE THANK  YOU to Le Puy du Fou for this BRILLIANT idea! Share this …

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To the Vendee with children: a DIVERSE 5-day itinerary!

The Vendée offers sightseeing and adventure for the whole family. This beautiful area is also ideally located for travelers looking for a more all-round vacation in France. We have a ready-made travel route for them, with at the heart of it … the Vendée!A 5-day itinerary with a purpose  – Any number of  activities in the Vendée could fill weeks of travelling fun with the family. Not everything is history orientated. From water parks to karting, paintball, amusement parks, rock climbing and sports on and off the water, really, it’s no wonder so many visitors choose to return to the Vendée again and again… or simply stay an entire summer. A taste of France through Paris, the Vendée and its medieval history, island life, and the Loire Valley – Unfortunately this is not an option for everybody: those who travel a great distance at significant expense, with a curiosity and …

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8 Must-see Loire Valley châteaux

Beyond the opulence of the Loire Valley castles lies a deep seeded history of feuds and craftsmanship alike. We have made a list of the chateaux you should see while spending your holidays in the Vendée.Why are there so many castles located in this area of France? What makes the Loire Valley so special? – The answer is not simple and spans many centuries. In an effort to be brief, we have boiled it down to three major reasons why the Loire Valley is an area of such great natural and cultural wealth. 1. The Loire river and its tributary branches mark a sort of natural barrier between the colder climate of northern France and the warmer climate of the south. The presence of the rivers cause the area to be a few degrees warmer, and provides irrigation. There is evidence of settlements dating back to the Stone Ages. Different types of …

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Tried and Tested: 2018 Journées Européennes du Patrimoine in the Vendée

OUR verdict is IN! Les Journées Européennes du Patrimoine are awesome! All it took was a little research & planning, a full tank of petrol, and our trusted GPS. Oh, and the alarm clock to rouse the family.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. We were intrigued by the notion that sometimes the public is given access to things that are not normally open. This year we tried and tested it for you in the Vendée. We’ll tell you where we went, what worked and what didn’t, and… how much money …

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Tour de France 2018 in the Vendée: a photo journal

In the Vendée would like to thank Vendée Tourisme, team Direct Energie, Christian Prudhomme and everybody who lobbied to bring Le Tour 2018 to our beautiful area! In addition to the event itself, the anticipation and build-up started many months in advance. Children, the elderly, and other groups worked together to create a festive atmosphere in all of the villages. Roundabouts filled with flowers and painted bicycles were sometimes accident-worthy. The sculpture in the Roland Berland roundabout at La Châtaigneraie, which honours French cycling champion Roland Berland, is simply stunning! It was created by artist Renaud Création. Therefor we would like to thank the Vendéen volunteers, merchants and organisations who participated in and contributed to the event. From start to finish, Le Tour de France 2018 in the Vendée was a fun and beautiful experience! Your hard work and passion is appreciated. Merci!Share this Post

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We asked some campers why they love the Vendée!

The ‘high-season’ anno 2018 is coming to an end, which means life at the nearly 400 campgrounds in the Vendée is slowly winding down to a winter’s pace… but these campers are already contemplating their return!A beautiful destination – The Vendéen gites, B&Bs, hotels and campgrounds welcome an average of 5 million tourists annually. 2017 marked the 40th anniversary-year for theme park Le Puy du Fou , with a reported 2.26 million visitors! Camping remains one of the favourite ways to spend family time in the Vendée. We spoke with a few campers this season, asking them to share why they love the area, how they chose the destination to begin with, and why they keep coming back. In their own words, here are Sally-Ann from the Lake District in the UK; Margaret and John, who retired from their transport business in the UK; and Harry and Cathy, retired dairy farmer and …

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Five Reasons to Visit the Vendée

Offering wildlife, tropical flora, ancient windmills and medieval history, old customs, and many outdoor activities, the Vendée is a place the entire family will want to explore.Superb vacationing – The Vendée pleases the eye, feels good on the skin, and with evidence of civilization from prehistoric times onward, chances are you’ll encounter something amazing around every corner. Because of this, the Vendée was prominently showcased in the 2018 Tour de France. The local cycling team, Direct Energie, proudly represented the area. For four wonderful days, the Vendée was front and center on the world stage and tourists flocked to experience the event and the area. Summer and winter – Certainly, even after the leaves fall from the trees and many castles close for winter, there is no shortage of things to do. With the largest forest in France nearby, the racing bike is exchanged for a mountain bike. Ocean swims become languid walks on …