Why the Vend

St Jean de Monts beachWide open spaces, uncrowded beaches, a sunny climate suited to an active outdoor lifestyle, great wines, historical buildings and friendly local people are just some of the reasons why the Vendée coast offers Australians a real home from home in France say Jaqueline & Brian Miller.

This region of white washed houses with terracotta roofs and blue shutters is situated only three hours drive from Paris but has some of the sunniest weather in France (almost equivalent to the Côte d’Azur).

Within 15 minutes of La Rochelle airport, you can be sat at a fishing village restaurant enjoying moules while watching yet more seafood being brought ashore.

Carrying on around the bay, you start to reach the sandy coastline of the Vendée. This is where the first three stages of the Tour de France 2011 took place. After the Tour, you will continue to see people of all ages enjoying the miles of coastal cycling routes. This time, with poodles or bichons frises in their baskets!

For those who like water sports, sea-kayaking, sailing, diving, deep-sea fishing, jet-skiing and paragliding are all popular here. If it’s surfing in Europe you are after, then Les Conches is the place to go. Nearby you can try land yachting at La Faute sur Mer.

Noirmoutier beach houseIf you prefer a more relaxed time, the Vendée coast is home to award winning beaches with lovely find sand and there are plenty of outdoor tables provided for picnics.

History abounds here and family châteaux can still be spotted through the trees. Some are open to the public and most open on dedicated days in the summer.

The local people (known as Vendéens) were strong royalists during the French Revolution and rejected the new republican principles. This resulted in an uprising by the local peasants and today the Vendée flag still shows the same sacred heart worn by those who fought.

The region has excellent local wines. To discover them, venture inland toward Mareuil sur Lay following the route taken by this year’s Tour de France. If you follow our blog you will see we feature a local wine each month.

The Fief Vendéen was founded in 1984 and includes red, white and rose wines. The reds are predominantly Gamay and Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Negrette whilst the whites are made from Chenin Blanc,Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. You will find the local vitculteurs offer a warm welcome.

If you are looking for a French château to taste your wine, then you can find them, but authentic rural France is there as well, visit les villages perdu, taste the wine and you may never want to leave; that’s what happened to us!

Noirmoutier chateauxWe now live amongst these wonderful vineyards but can be on an unspoilt beach with a protected pine forest as a backdrop within 20 minutes. If we fancy a walk by a lake, we have two to choose from. Nearby rivers wind themselves through hamlets and villages where you can hear gentle French jazz playing at restaurants on summer evenings.

For Australians, there are a number of other advantages to buying French property here. It is easily accessible by either air or train. Seaside apartments and houses provide excellent rental potential or, if you prefer la France profonde we can still find you a village house under €100,000 with a courtyard or small garden for entertaining new friends.

If you are looking to finance your second home, French banks currently offer low, fixed interest rates against your Australian income. With the current favourable exchange rate, it is no surprise that we have noticed an increase in the number of Australians purchasing on this coastline. Don’t wait until the tide turns, head on down to this little known area of France now before the prices creep up!

Jaqueline & Brian Miller are FrenchEntree’s property finders for La Rochelle and the Vendée coast.

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