Vendée

Visiting the Vendée

 

With over 200kms of coastline, it’s not surprising that boats play a big part in the history and economy of the Vendée. This is the No.1 nautical region in France and is known for its boating industry throughout the world. 

It is the region to visit if you love water and there are endless nautical opportunities. There are 16 marinas, 18 beach resorts, 140 metres of beaches with landscapes as varied as dunes and forests plus 120 clubs with nautical links. You can go sailing, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, kite-surfing, diving, water skiing and even sand yachting .

Golf of Saint-Jean-de-Monts ©P. Baudry

 

Les Sables-d’Olonne is famous for its sailing heritage as it is the point of departure for the ‘Vendée Globe’ (around the world sailing race). More than 1000 boats line-up at the marina and provide a fabulous display for visitors. For all things nautical, the ‘Vendéens’ are some of the top competitors in the world. It’s not just about sailing; there are long stretches of fine sand, pine forests, thalassotherapy, a casino, and a golf course… The seafront promenade linking the beach and town is bustling all year round!

The Côte de Lumière and its top resorts: Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and Brétignolles-sur-Mer are close by with sandy beaches stretching along 12 kms of dunes edged by a forest of maritime pine. The chic resort of Saint-Gilles is a lively little town and a popular destination for sardine fishing. A little further south, the resort of Brétignolles welcomes families and is one of the most popular spots in the region for surfers. Jard-sur-Mer boasts 7 km of coastline and is a haven for lovers of board sports and has a natural cove, which makes anchoring safe and easy.

The islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier are perfect for those who want an island escape. The Île d'Yeu is a famous fishing port with the picturesque ambience that is typical of true islands. This island offers lots of sunshine, revitalising sea spray, and invigorating ocean breeze. You can explore the 14th Century castle, the picturesque ports and the fishing hamlets with their small white cottages and brightly painted shutters. Seafood plays a starring role in the island’s cuisine, including tuna rillettes, pâté and smoked fish.

Yeu Island © M.Thiery

 

Noirmoutier is all about sandy beaches and the feel of the Mediterranean. Its coastline alternates between rocky and sandy with some 50 kms of beautiful beaches. This sandy landscape is littered with mills, mimosas, small woods, inlets, quaint ports and old sailing ships – a stimulation of all your senses. Noirmoutier also has several oyster farms and its salt marshes brim with life. 

The Marais Poitevin wetland, the 2nd largest in France after the Carmargue, has earned the nickname of 'Green Venice'. The name derives from the still, jade-green waters. A great way to discover the unusual scenery is by taking the family on a guided tour in a flat bottom boat. You float through verdant green tunnels created by weeping willows accompanied by the soothing sound of your boat gliding through duckweed.

A ‘must-see’ for families is the ‘Thea Classic’ award winning theme park ‘Puy du Fou, which brings the history of the region to life: chariot races in a near full-sized Roman amphitheatre, soldiers storming a castle, Vikings and gladiators. Language is no barrier for British youngsters, who love the non-stop action from magicians to minstrels. You don’t need to worry about understanding what is going on as there is even an audio guide in English!

Les Vikings	© Puy du Fou

 

The Vendée region offers a variety of landscapes and activities from quiet escapes to extreme thrills. 

> Vendée Tourist Board