Beach in the VendéeLa Rochelle HarbourViking ship at Puy du FouMarais Poitevin CoulonNeuil sur Autize Abbey
  1. The Puy du Fou

This theme park, set in the north of the Vendée, was voted ‘World’s Best Park’ in 2012 by the Thea Classic Award in Los Angeles, and offers a multitude of spectacular shows ranging from gladiators in a life-sized colosseum, vikings, musketeers, medieval knights and a fantastic bird of prey show – Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes. In the evening there is an awesome sound and light show, Le Cinéscénie, tracing the history of the Vendée through the years, and featuring over 1,100 participants – including several animals!

  1. The Marais Poitevin

For a more relaxing day out, the Marais Poitevin is ideal for exploring the quiet waterways and wetlands of this beautiful ‘Grand Site de France’. You will find pretty villages with ruined abbeys, waterside restaurants and miles of canals to punt along – either independently or with a guide.

The abbeys of Nieul-sur-L’Autise and Maillezais hold summer and Christmas festivals with medieval re-enactments and craft fairs. This is truly a nature lover’s paradise, with guided walks along the towpaths and traditional crafts kept alive in village studios.

  1. Clean and safe beaches

The Vendée is famous for being the second sunniest part of France after the Mediterranean coast, boasting over 3,000 hours of sunshine every year. It is also the second-most-visited area of the Atlantic Coast for French holidaymakers. There are over 140 kilometres of sandy beaches to choose from, including long, safe beaches for surfing and body boarding such as Les Conches or La Terrière; rocky beaches for finding crabs and fossils, like Jard and St Vincent; and flat beaches for sail-karting and kite flying, such as La Faute-sur-Mer and Port Bourgenay. The bustling seaside towns of La Tranche-sur-Mer and St Gilles Croix de Vie offer lots of summer entertainment on the beach and in the streets in the evenings, with singers, fireworks, concerts and street entertainers amusing the holidaymakers.

  1. Over 1,100 kilometres of guided cycle paths

The Vendée has the largest network of cycle tracks in France, with over 1,100 kilometres of sign-posted routes spanning varying degrees of difficulty, from flat coastal pathways to rolling hills and valleys in the northern Vendée. The coastal route takes in 220 kilometres of track, of which over 150 kilometres is dedicated to cyclists, so is free from other traffic. The routes pass by spectacular scenery, with sand dunes, sweeping beaches, wetlands, coastal cliffs and picturesque towns dotted throughout.

  1. The Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race

This famous race sets sail from the busy port of Les Sables d’Olonne every four years, with the next one due in November 2016. This race is an endurance test for participants: single-handed, round the world and with no assistance! The town comes alive in the weeks leading up to the race, with a ‘yachting village’ setting up camp around the large harbour, lots of entertainment and events and a great atmosphere in the many restaurants!

  1. Good transport links

The Vendée is ideally located for holidaymakers coming from the UK and Ireland, as it has two airports within an hour’s drive at La Rochelle and Nantes – both served by several of the budget airlines from many UK airports. It also has great road links to the northern ferry ports – with St Malo only a three-hour drive away. The motorway takes you north to the other ports of Cherbourg (five hours) or Calais/Eurotunnel (six and a half hours).

  1. Locally caught seafood

The area boasts a large fishing fleet, with daily catches being brought to land at Les Sables d’Olonne, St. Gilles and many other fishing harbours along the coast. Specialities include freshly caught mussels and oysters, sardines, blue lobsters and lots of shellfish. Every seaside town has restaurants serving the ‘catch of the day’, and moules-frites are on every menu!

  1. Summer fêtes and festivals

The Vendée is home to many international music festivals, ranging from Le Poupet at Saint Malo du Bois in July to Jazz nights, to the Festival Les Nuits set in several of the ‘Petites Cités de Caractère’ offering jazz, baroque, classical and opera music. Most towns and villages hold a summer fête which might include an antiques fair, ploughing competitions, regional produce, country dancing and tasting lots of local craft products. These events are a great way of mixing with the locals, tasting the local foods and practicing your French skills!

  1. Local wine routes

The Fief Vendéen wine-growing region has recently been awarded its own AOC designation and it is becoming well known for its lovely rosé and white wine, as well as some unusual single-grape variety reds. The vineyards are grouped together in five areas around the southern Vendée and you can visit the wine cellars, either in grand chateaux or rural barns next to the vineyards. A fun day out, passing through some lovely scenery!

  1. Lots of family attractions

The Vendée is a great base for family holidays, with so many activities to do! Here are just some of them:

Book your holiday accommodation through Vendée Holiday Cottages for a choice of properties, ranging from two-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom country farmhouses.

Tel: Annette on 00 33 251 28 43 98

Visit our site: www.vendeeholidaycottages.com

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