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2021 Journées du Patrimoine Vendée: list of things to see

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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Empty Attic (Vide Greniers) & Flea Markets

Vides Greniers or brocantes in France are a popular pass-time around the world. So too in the Vendée and lucky for those of those who enjoy upcycling or repurposing previously loved items. In 2021, there are fewer flea markets scheduled than what would normally be the case and due to the pandemic, please be aware there may be last-minute cancellations!  “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”!JUNE 2021 Vide-Greniers in the VendéeFRIDAY 11TH JUNE *Challans 85300   Vide Maison, Various household items furniture, knick-knacks, crockery, gardening accessories by the locals @ 125A Chemin du Gué aux Moines from 10h00 to 19h00. Free entry *Saint-Mathurin 85150   Vide Maison, Various household items, mechanical tools, masonry tools by locals @ 7 Rue des Mûriers from 8h00 to 18h00. Free Entry *Olonne-sur-Mer 85340   Vide Maison, Various household items by locals @ 114 Route des Pins from 10h30 to 19h00. Free entry. SATURDAY …

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Sharing Vouvant with the World

I am Marie Vivies. I was born in Fontenay le Comte and I grew up in a rural Vendée village called Antigny. I have always been attracted to the English language, that is why I focused my studies on discovering the working of its mechanisms. I also wanted to discover my own country, so I attended university in various cities around France: Angers, Rennes, Poitiers and Lyon. It was thrilling to experience life in a big city, but the years I spent there also made me realise how deeply I was attached to the Vendée. I taught English for 5 years but something was missing. It took time to understand that teaching English was not making me happy. Practicing it in conversation with people not known to me was more pleasant than explaining the language to youngsters. In fact, what I really liked was making someone discover something during a …

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Vouvant, Painters’ Village in the Vendée

Resting snugly in the arms of the Mère river at the edge of the largest oak tree forest in France lies one of the most beautiful villages of France. Vouvant, whose narrow streets demand a languid stroll in admiration of ancient architecture and a colorful plethora of flowers, seems to have been kissed by the gentle lips of history and tended by the loving care of faeries. A lovely drive toward the south-east corner of the Vendéen countryside will quickly point in its direction. Accept the challenge of discovery and you will quickly understand why Vouvant is lovingly referred to as the painter’s village.An introduction – The beginnings of Vouvant are somewhat mystical according to legend. The tale goes that the original castle here was created in just one night by the fairy Mélusine as a gift to the village. Of this castle only the donjon that dominates its skyline …

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The Sanctuary of La Salette and its remarkable architecture

From the banks of the river la Petite Meine rises a very steep hill covered with lush foliage, wildflowers, and exotic species of trees. This beautiful environment in the middle of nowhere in the Vendeen countryside is home to a monument of remarkable architecture; a place of pilgrimage that draws a crowd each first Sunday of September but is a quiet spot of tranquility and reflection the rest of year: the Sanctuary of La Salette at La Rabateliere. It is a grouping of religious buildings commemorating  the apparition of the Virgin Mary to two children in the French Alps anno 1846.History and location  – The sanctuary was built in 1887 at the initiative of Abbot Hillairet, then parish priest of the small village La Rabatelière. The land belonged to the Count of La Poëze who then owned and lived in Château de La Rabatelière (which is today a bed and …

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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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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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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 …