Pass vendee information Julien Gazeau Vendee Expansion

These are the benefits of a Pass Vendée

Whether you are visiting the Vendée or live here, Le Pass Vendée is a great way to maximize your experience of this beautiful department in France. It offers access to seven cultural gems and two nature reserves for as many times as you want for an entire year. Especially if you have children, it's a steal, because they don't pay a thing! We heart France. We heart La Vendée!

Family fun – Worry no more about finding things to do at any day of the week or weekend. The Vendée is charged with interesting sightseeing whether you're into nature or you prefer historical sites or better yet... all-in-one!

At each of the locations included in this article you can go for a brisk walk, browse leisurely, drink in your surroundings and learn about their role in the history and the very heart of the Vendée and its people. In more good news, adults can visit them using the incredible Pass Vendée! Children 18 and younger have free entry anyway ... it's AMAZING!

Affordable – the amazing Pass Vendée  is a cultural pass that allows you to visit 7 cultural and 2 nature reserves, as many times as you like for a year FOR JUST €21 per person. NOTE: It is not transferable! It is available online or in each of these locations where you can also use it.

Just have a look at our article which you can use as a guide all year long to see how you can take advantage of Le Pass Vendée! 

Let's do the math – Normal entry fees per adult
Haras de la Vendee: 7
Historial de la Vendee: 8€
Logis de la Chabotterie: 7€
Chateau de Tiffauges: 8€
Abbaye de Maillezais: 6€
Abbaye Nieul-sure-l'Autize: 6€
Cite des Oiseaux: 4.50€
Prieure de Grammont: 3€
Reserve Biologique Departmentale: 0€
Total cost: 49.50€ per adult
Savings with Pass Vendee: 28.50€ per adult (multiply by as many times as you want in a one year period!)

Cite des Oiseaux vendee

Giant ponds

Don't miss this incredible nature reserve located on one of the largest North-South migratory routes for birds, making it a major ornithological center. The Cité des Oiseaux (bird city) is one of the largest wetlands in the heart of the Vendee, (temporary) home to species such as the pochard and tufted scaup, great crested grebes, little grebes, whistling ducks, mallards, grey herons etc.

The park of some 56 hectares features two enormous ponds. There are around 3000 birds every day, some 210 species! Amateur and professional photographers, avid birders, nature lovers, and families can observe species from the observatory, the belvedere or simply by walking the trails of this amazing natural site.

So, wear your walking shoes and appropriate clothing (sunscreen), and don't for get your camera and binoculars!

Highly recommended great family activity!
Open – Open 3rd July to 7th November. Website
Family activities treasure hunts
Summer fun with special adventures and workshops 
Address –
La Cité des Oiseaux, 14, the Butchers 85130 Les Landes-Genusson

GPS coordinates – 46 ° 39 ′ 50 ″ N, 1 ° 25 ′ 37 ″ W 
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Images Andreas Trepte (tafted ducklings), Assianir (grey heron). Copyright_P_Garguil_Cité_des_Oiseaux_4 (main). olegivvit (whistling duck)

grey heron

Royal Stud Stables

One of the many interesting heritage sites in the Vendée is the beautiful Haras de la Vendée. In 1665, Colbert created the royal stud farms on behalf of King Louis XIV with the intention to produce horses for the King's army. The stud farms were quite important as they were tasked specifically with raising stallions to improve equine breeds.

1842 by ordinance of King Louis-Philippe, La Roche-sur-Yon received an influx of stallions to blow new life into the program which had sort of faded under the reign of Napoleon. Only the director's house, the honorary saddlery, and the two southern stables existed at the time. Between 1876 and 1904, five new stables made it possible for the stud farm to house nearly 220 stallions

The architecture of Haras de la Vendée is neoclassical.

Highly recommended - great family activity!! Enjoy shows, demonstrations and interaction with the horses and ponies
Open –  Year-round but see Website and schedule
Tip – Daily shows in summer included with entry
Address –120 Boulevard des États Unis, 85000 La Roche-sur-Yon

GPS coordinates – 46 ° 39 ′ 50 ″ N, 1 ° 25 ′ 37 ″ W
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Nearby sightseeing The Chocolate Museum in La Roche-sur-Yon
Images Copyright_P_Baudry_Haras_3,4 & 5, Copyright_D_Fugere_Haras_2, and HVdep 

haras de la vendee royal stud - patrimoine vendee
haras de la vendee royal stud - patrimoine vendee
haras de la vendee - pass vendee
haras de la vendee - pass vendee
historial de la vendee - vendee pass

Unique in architecture and design

We daresay not just unique but brilliant! The ultra modern museum was designed to fit modular spaces and features a technical grill that overlooks the museum from a 6m height. The walls can be moved to accommodate different exhibitions and the museum is completely interactive, also featuring audiovisual projections, lighting games and shows.

Because the museum is located in a "sensitive natural space" the building was designed as such that it integrates in the rural setting, indeed it has a spectacular geometrical green roof! 

This museum is not only an architectural marvel, the only one of its kind in France, but features well-put-together permanent and temporary exhibitions highlighting some of the 19,000 artifacts of the department, as well as archeological collections found in the Vendée subsoil. 

Open year-round (except Mondays, and Christmas/ New Years day) and with a dynamic offer of exhibitions, the wonderful Historial de la Vendée is anything but a stuffy old museum. It is great to visit at any age and at any time of the year, and young children receive very special attention!

Open – Website and schedule
TIP Specific rate for camping cars: 10€ (1 entry + 4 hours of electricity and water recharge); reparation kits for cyclists 
Family visits and tours here 
Events – Night of the Museums (free entry) and Journees Patrimoines (September)
Address –
Historial de la Vendée Allée Paul Bazin, 85170 Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne
GPS coordinates – 46° 50′ 45″ N, 1° 28′ 52″ W
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Nearby sightseeing Logis de la Chabotterie
Images  A. Lamoureux/Vendée Expansion - droits réservés, and Rimagne 

death mask of General Charente
Historial de la Vendee

Authentic interior

The manor's restoration projects went beyond the interior rooms. Every piece of furniture, utilitarian item, and clothing is authentic, dating between XVth and XVIIIth centuries.

The word 'antiques' does not begin to describe this incredible collection. The tour, leading from the drawing room (where guests would have been received), through the dining room, the scullery, chapel, bedchamber, strategy room, the amazing study and attics, is well designed with unobtrusive, multi-lingual and easy to use technology as your tour guide. While nothing beats explanation by a personable, impassioned person, this approach does allow one to linger...

... and linger. The very detail of placement, from threadbare rugs to jackets casually thrown over the back of a chair to the ticking of a clock, makes you feel like an honoured guest just returned from a stroll in the gardens with the hosts not far behind.

The manor's interior envelopes the unsuspecting tourist in such a way they may not want to leave. More than a house, it's a real home decorated with precious items like the silk-panel folding screen in the drawing room depicting Chinese scenery, a unique guaïacum egg holder on the dining room table, ancient watering cans on the amazing scullery floor, topographic instruments in the strategy room, the delicately painted ceiling in the study...  every corner of le Logis de la Chabotterie, including the spectacular gardens, oozes cosiness.

But nothing quite took our breath away as much as the 18th century dollhouse, casually 'forgotten' in the attics. It is so exquisite, its colours seemingly untouched by the hands of time, it's impossible not to be drawn to it. Don't miss this beautifully preserved home in your quest to learn more about Vendée.

Open – Year-round, see website for schedule
Family fun – treasure hunt, adventure booklets and nature trail! 
Escape game   by reservation - in French! Info here
Address – Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon 85260 Montréverd
GPS coordinates  46.880089, -1.406092; enter your location
Nearby Sightseeing – don't miss the museum depicting the Vendée wars included with the visit!
 read in article
Images – by inthevendee


Prieuré de Grammont - XIIth Century

Located in the midst of farm fields, the small abbey Le Prieuré de Grammont is as tranquil as it is charming. It's not difficult to imagine monastic life as it once was.

Richard Coeur de Lion (Richard de Lionheart) ordered the Order of Grammont and this structure built at the end of the 12th century. Murals can still be seen and some rooms, such as the old kitchen, are open to the courtyard.

It is one of the best preserved Order of Grammont monasteries in France.

The chapel and courtyard have amazing acoustics, so do check the Prieuré summer concerts schedule and buy tickets timely. (not included in the Pass Vendee) We highly recommend attending at least one of these to experience the abbey in a completely different light much more to what it must have been centuries ago with beautiful voices resounding from the ancient stones and the light of hundreds of candles creating a smoky, cozy atmosphere.

Surely it has the ancient monks smiling through the pages of history on those nights. It's lovely! Read our related blog post with beautiful images of nocturnal Gregorian chanting at the abbey.

Open1st June to 19th September 2021.
Closed – from 20/09/2021 to 31/05/2022
Address – 85110 Saint-Prouant
GPS coordinates –  46.7486° N, 0.9857° W
Check our events calendar
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Nearby abbey (16km): Abbaye de Grainetière
Nearby Sightseeing – Sigournais (donjon), Bazoges-en-Pareds (donjon), Mouilleron-en-Pareds (Maison Musée Clémenceau, Musée Clemenceau-de Latre, (none are included in the Pass Vendée) La Colline des Moulins Nature area 
Images – by


Xth Century abbey

It takes big words to describe this abbey: majestic, mysterious, glorious... come to mind, each evoking the cultural heritage site perfectly.

Constructed on the ruins of an old chapel ca. 976, there are accounts of an established abbey anno 989.

The abbey was deemed the area's bishop's seat until 1648, but its monastic function continued until it was abandoned in 1666.

The cathedral was destroyed during the Reformation and the Religious Wars, but the ruins are simply breathtaking. For a number of years, the abbey changed hands to Protestants, but was returned to Catholics in 1618/19.

A "giant" lies broken and scattered across an area of the grounds, a brilliant backdrop for theatre and family photos. Check schedule for cultural events there are plays and children's events throughout the summer. and an amazing Christmas market in winter!

This abbey is a family fav so don't miss it!

Open  Closed from 12 November to 28 February. Schedule
Address  85420 Maillezais
GPS coordinates –  46.3727° N, 0.7457° W
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Nearby abbey (10km) – Nieul-sur-l'Autise
Cycling route from Maillezais to Nieul. Info here
Nearby Sightseeing – boat tour of the Marais-Poitevin. Embarkation point by the entrance to the abbey grounds. It's not necessary to purchase an abbey ticket to hire a boat. Embarcadère de l'Abbaye
Images – by

Abbey of Maillezais stairs

Nieul-sur-l'Autise -
XIth Century

In this picturesque village you will find an abbey that has dipped its feet into the 21st century with an interactive tour and exhibits that have the abbey come to medieval life.

Founded in 1068, it was declared a royal abbey in 1141 by King Louis VII, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The beloved queen of France and her mother spent quite some time here. Except for the Romanesque cloister, it was largely destroyed in the Wars of Religion, and restored.

The cloister is one of the best preserved of its era and it is beautiful! One could easily see France's beloved Queen Eleanor, who was born in the village, sit on a cloister wall reading a book or poetry. Her mother also spent quite some time here.

They've done a brilliant job showing the visitor how it once was, as unobtrusively as possible. While electronics and ramps steal from the imagination a little, this abbey is also a great research location for authors. Plays and family activities throughout the summer, and on occasion very interesting workshops in the medieval arts such as calligraphy. Not to miss! 

Open – Open all year. In July and August, guided tours daily Schedule 
Address – 1 Allée du Cloître

GPS coordinates – 46.4247° N, 0.6789° W
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Nearby abbey (10km) – Abbaye de Maillezais
Nearby sightseeing Chateau du Terre-Neuve (Fontenay-le-Comte), Vouvant (Petite Cité de Caractère)Julien GAZEAU / Vendée Expansion - droits réservés 
Images: Julien Gazeau/ Vendee expansion (below) and Aoudot25 (main)

Nieul sur l'Autize abbey in the Vendee

Bluebeard's sinister castle

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the valley where the rivers Sèvre Nantaise and the Crûme flow together, the Château de Tiffauges is strategically located for battle.

Geoffrey Thouars built the castle in the 12th Century, its ramparts and towers protecting the village by the Crume river. In 1420 his daughter Catherine de Thouars married Gilles de Rais, who fought alongside Charles II and Joan of Ark in the Hundred Years War. Château de Pouzauges was also part of her dowry.

Château de Tiffauges became the place where Gilles de Rais later committed  atrocities against children. Believing he could turn their blood into gold, he performed experiments on them. Around two hundred kids disappeared from the area and nearby villages. In October 1440, he was tried for heresy, sodomy and the murders of one-hundred-and-forty-plus children. He was sentenced to hang. In folkloric tales of the 15th Century, he is frequently confused with the mythical Bluebeard - le Barbe-Blue.

At the end of the 15th Century the Viscounts of Thouars inherited the castle. It burned down in 1569 in repeated attacks during the Hundred Years war but in 1793, in one more show of force, it played a strategic role in the last Vendéen victory of the Religious Wars, the Battle of Torfou [Tiffauges].

Château de Tiffauges is the largest medieval castle in the Vendée area. Today it is a haven where children happily participate in medieval reenactments, archery and other events.

Animation: fantastic 
Open  Open from 1 April through 3rd weekend September and for special events in between. Schedule
Tip – Many cultural events scheduled throughout the year e.g. music, Christmas market, medieval festival etc...
– Picnic tables around the car park in the La Roche river valley by the chateau. (D753)
Address  Le Château, 85130 Tiffauges
GPS coordinates – 47° 00′ 59″ N, 1° 06′ 53″ W; 
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Images – by inthevendee

reserve biologique departement vendee - beautiful nature reserve in the marais poitevin

XIXth Century in the Marais Poitevin

This biological reserve developed by the Department of Vendée is a man-made ecological reserve that leads you through life in the Marais Poitevin in the XIXth century.

Located in the northern part of the Poitevin marsh, it is one of the last examples of wooded wet marshes in the area. In order to ensure the status of a reserved natural space, the Department has divided the space into two parts, each with a specific vocation.

The first with a scientific vocation, refuge for many species, and the second with an educational landscape, aesthetic and historical vocation where the sectors formerly maintained without clearing them are valued. 

This natural habitat offers 146 hectares of exceptional richness, 3 areas to discover flora including 319 plant species, and fauna including otters, wild boar, deer, species of bugs including beautiful butterflies and moth... all along more than 4km of walking trails that are also wheelchair friendly.

Highly recommended for the whole family, all generations! Free access! 

Open  Open from April to 7 November. Schedule
Family activities – picnic tables, treasure hunt and more!
School holidays – many special events throughout the summer such as nature walks, guided tours and workshops
Address  Departmental Biological Reserve, Les huttes 85370 Nalliers
GPS coordinates – N 46 ° 26’34.81 ” / O 01 ° 01’19.34 ”; 
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Adult groups by reservation on 02 51 97 69 80
Images – by pixabay


There are other ways to save on paid activities, but more about that next time! We hope that this has given you an insight of what there is to see and do in the beautiful Vendée using the benefits of the Pass Vendée.

You can also go on a spontaneous adventure, because not only do we have the cultural sites that the department knows how to present and bring to the visitor in a very fine way, we also have a landscape dotted with windmills and watermills, castles, churches and chapels, and pre-historic monuments

Find freedom in your quest to explore the Vendée (for free) with one of these guides. Enjoy yourself! 

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