Vendee  Attractions

The Vendée being one of Frances most popular holiday destinations means that there is no shortage of things to do whatever the weather or the time of year. There are over 10 major attractions with a wide range of things to do for all the family, with cultural & heritage attractions, ranging from: Châteaux, Castles and Churches, museums, theme parks, historic heritage, markets, childrens' games and entertainment, zoos and gardens, adventure parks.... 
There will also be many smaller attractions within towns and villages, and of course the towns and villages may well be the attraction themselves, as with Vouvant, Foussais-Payre and Fontenay-le-Comte, to name but a few.

As well as the attractions in the Vendée we are adding attractions from just outside of the Vendée that you may want to visit while on holiday in the Vendée. These include places such as La Rochelle, Ile de Re and Coulon.  We have included a list of the more popular attractions to begin with, followed on by a more comprehensive list done alphabetically

 

 

 

PUY DU FOU - Grand Park

Puy du Fou  is well worth a visit, by day there is a theme park which includes medieval jousting, villages with traditional crafts and actors dressed in the period of the day. The highlight is a twice daily display of falconry. The display is held in an amphitheatre with hawks, falcons and eagles swooping over the crowd and collecting food from the falconers who are dressed in traditional costume. This includes every bird of prey you have ever imagined including some enormous vultures. Great fun and highly professional ! 

 

PUY DU FOU - Cinescenie

By night during the summer Puy du Fou is renowned for holding France's foremost Son et Lumière (cinescenie) spectacle. This is a re-enactment of the dress history in full costume by night and includes battle scenes, village life and laser special effects set around a castle and lake. It includes a cast of hundreds of locals and is carried out on Friday and Saturday nights.

Every show is sold out in the height of summer, but tickets can be booked in advance. There is also an English translation available on cassette.

If you wish to go to the evening event and get the translation this can be booked in advance by credit card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MERVENT

Mervent -  There are large wooded areas ideal for picnics, walking and particularly mountain biking.

Within Mervent Forest is a very large lake which is ideal for fishing, sailing, canoeing and swimming,  with there being some small lakeside beaches. There are places where pedalos and wind surfers can be hired, and wind surfing lessons are offered at reasonable rates. There are also restaurants, a small zoo and a very extensive fun park known as 'Pierre Brune', which has dozens of rides from castles, crazy bikes, and slides to hamster wheels and see-saws. 

Mervent Zoo  Although realatively small, this is a very well presented zoo with a good selection of animals to view (including lions, tigers & bears!)
There are a number of larger zoos and wildlife parks in the Vendée and neighbouring Charente Maritime, the best of which are the zoo at Les Sables d'Olonne on the Vendée coast and the Palmyre zoo near Royan in the Charente Maritime. 

 

Venice Vert - Marais Poitevin

Venise Vert is the canal system which the Vendée is famous for. There are numerous places (Maillezais is one of the best) where small rowing boats can be hired (with or without guides). Maps are provided and you can navigate round canal systems to set routes. The canals range from 20m wide to narrow stretches barely wide enough for the boat. All the canals are completely covered with a very distinctive weed giving them the appearance of flat green land, hence the 'Venise Vert' name. At Maillezais there is also a restaurant, souvenir shop and crazy golf course. A fun day out, though beware, boat hire is more expensive than you would expect.

 

 

Vouvant is a quiet historic town with a church overlooking a valley and river. There is a very good crêperie and pedalos can be hired out by the hour. One of the prettiest villages in France.

 

 

 

 

Fontenay-le-Comte - The small Renaissance city of Fontenay-le-Comte lies between the marais poitevin and the forest of Mervent.  Noted for its architectural heritage and particularly relaxed way of life, the town has a good variety of shops, hypermarkets, parks and has a Saturday market with a great selection of seafood available.

Beaches in the Vendée are excellent, clean and sandy. There are many kilometers of beaches in the Vendee and plenty of resorts varying from small quiet resorts to the more touristy.  Three popular resorts next to each other on the coast, la Tranche-sur-Mer, l'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, and la Faute-sur-Mer . All are excellent for families, for the larger more touristy type of resort les Sables-d'Olonne offers full facilities expected of a more commercialised resort. More information on the Vendee beaches

 

 

 

LA ROCHELLE

La Rochelle  is France's 2nd largest boat building port and the historic Vieux Port remains largely unchanged. A daily fish market can be found in the old town until 12:00 midday. The port is very attractive and waterside cafés and restaurants offer a relaxing break. The seafood platters are their speciality and are excellent especially for large groups, where a single huge dish of shell fish is produced. The new marina holds Europe's largest aquarium which is open 365 days a year and has a large selection of fish from highly coloured tropical types to eels and sharks.

 

 

 

 

Île de Ré  is a quiet island off La Rochelle, a new road bridge makes it accessible by car. It is picturesque and has numerous beaches, cafés, towns and parks. The cost for the toll bridge is approximately £10 but is free if you cycle or walk out to the island. There is also a very good value golf course on the island.

 

 

Xanton Chassenon Lakeside Beach

Chassenon-le-Bourg. The lakeside beach Lac de Chassenon is just outside of Fontenay-le-Comte and has a private beach which is open to the public during the summer season. This sheltered guarded beach is ideal for children and you can hire boats and canoes.

There is also a turbo slide on site and a children's play area.

Restaurant and ample parking.

There are plans to redevelop this site into one of the biggest water-parks in the Vendee.

 

 

 

Futuroscope  is situated near Poitiers, it combines latest cinematic developments with the entertainment and fun of a theme park. there are a dozen or so main attractions comprising some of the largest cinema screens in the world (seven stories high), 3-d special effects, flight simulators, cinema seats on hydraulic pedestals, all around cinema with picture that extends underneath you, 360degree cinema screens, huge curved screens etc. These all show spectacular 20 minute films on various topics. There are also educational areas showing the history of cinema, and numerous restaurants and cafés. There are a number of smaller attractions also which include pedalos, fun mirrors, slides etc. Be warned though queues in peak holiday periods are massive, best to do this outside main French holiday periods. 

 

Zoo at Les Sables d'Olonne is located on the edge of this popular resort town. Set in verdant gardens, this beautifully presented zoo is home to 200 animals of more than 40 species, including big cats, red pandas and primates. Some of the species kept are rare and the zoo is part of a European breeding program for many of these. 

The Palmyre zoo is generally held to be the best in France. Visited by over 800,000 visitors per year, the 35 acre site is home to 1600 animals including polar bears, gorillas and rhinoceros.

 

The Loire Valley: Famous for its chateaux and wines, the Loire Valley offers also some exceptional scenery. Some towns worth a visit: Saumur with the Cadre Noir (National School of Horsemanship). Chinon and its medieval castle. Also the unique gardens of Villandry. 

Pescalis: Very large fishing lake (one of the largest in Europe). Situated near Moncoutant, this fishermans’ paradise offers over 150 hectares of lakes. It is Europe’s premier fishing and nature centre and open to beginner and enlightened amateur. All types of fish are available.  

 

La Vallee des Singes, Primate Protection Reserve: 30 species to be discovered White-Bellied Spider Monkey Tufted Capuchins Yellow-breasted Capuchin White-throated Capuchin Chimpanzees Colobus Monkey Gorilla Gelada Baboon White-cheeked Gibbons Woolly Monkey Schmidt's White-Nosed Monkey Barbary Macaques The White-Fronted Lemur Ring-Tailed Lemur Ruffed Lemur Mandrills Common Marmoset White-Fronted Marmoset Pygmy Marmoset Squirrel monkey White-Faced Saki Siamang Emperor Tamarin Golden Headed Lion Tamarin Golden Lion Tamarin Cotton-Topped Tamarin Titi Monkeys. Monkey Valley’s shady paths, brooks and waterfalls invite you to explore the calm beauty of its natural countryside. A new sight appears at each turn in the path. Listen…Observe… Use all of your senses and you will be transported into the fascinating universe of the primates!- 

 

Cognac  is approximately 1½ hours drive south and well worth a visit for the connoisseur. In the centre of the town the best tour is that of the Otard distilleries, where cognac has been made for hundreds of years. A sample session follows the tour, but drivers beware, new laws on drink driving are more strict than UK. 


Saumur  is more for the wine buff, it is similar distance north and this town on the Loire also offers numerous caves (cellars) along with various historic buildings.


St Emilion  is ½ hour drive south of Cognac, this historic wine producing region is for the red wine enthusiasts and boasts excellent tours of vineyards and historic sites.

 

 

A to Z of Attraction.

Abbeys:
Abbaye de la Grainetiere  Built in 1130, Les Herbiers. has seen many attacks, but its cloisters and chapel are still intact
Lieu Dieu  Near Jard -sur-Mer. Built by Richard the Lion Heart.
Prieure de Grammont    Built by Richard the Lion Heart in the 13th Century .Open June to Sept.
Abbaye de L'Ile Chauvet   on the Breton Marshes between Chateauneuf and Bois-en-Cene.
Abbaye-du-maillezais    large abbey on the Marais Poitevin it is architecturally unique in the Poitou Saintonge..
Abbaye de St.Michel-en-l'Herm   Founded in 682 part of the abbey is open to the public.
Royal Abbaye Neuil-sur-l'Autise. Granted royal status by Eleanor of Aquitaine. Open daily throughout the year...

 

Adventure Parks.
201 forest Avenue
Adventure Parc   Mervent tree top adventures ia an aerial assault course to test your skills, agility and balance.
Donjon des Cimes New for 2010. Fontenay-le-Comte. Promenades and games up in the trees
Le Grand Defi St Julien des Landes, 5 courses of adventure up in the trees.
Feeling Forest  St.Hilaire-de Riez. 6 courses in the trees.
Indian Forest The Vendées largest adventure park with 310 events on 17 courses.
Pierre Brune. Mervent Forest.A fun park with large variety of games
Tepacap. Mesnard la Barotier. 6 courses in the trees + paintball.

Animaux de la Ferme This Farm and Nature wildlife park has over 500 animals.

 

Aquariums.
7th Continent. The aquarium at Talmont-St.Hilaire.
Sealand Noirmoutier. The aquarium on the island of Noirmoutier.

Atlantic Toboggan. This large water park consists of a huge lake with all its fun equipment is a fabulous assembly of facilities.
Barrage de Boisse one of the hydaulic water managements in the Marais Poitevin.
Bazoges-en-Pareds. The keep and gardens of a Medieval Feudal castle.
Bourrine de Rosie This traditional Marais Breton thatched two room cottage was until recently the home of an old lady,
Bourrine-du Bois-Juquaud. Discover the lives of the people of the marshes
Brasserie Melusine. The Vendées first Brewery at Chambretaud in the Haut Bocage
CAIRN. Center for Archaeological Research Initiation and the Neolithic. A prehistory discovery centre...
Canal-de-Ceinture-des-Hollandais one of the major drainage canals of the Marais Poitevin.
Centre Minier de Faymoreau. The Village, chapel, museum and exhibitions on the life of mining in the Vendée.

 

Churches of importance;
La Baslica. St.Laurent-sur-Sèvre. The main church in the Vendee's "holy Town"
Le Boupere This fortified church looks more like a castle than a church.
Cheffois. Medieval fortified church.
Fontenay-le-Comte Cathedral Notre-Dame. Founded in the 12th century as an Augustinian abbey.
Lucon Cathedral.The Cathedral of Lucon dominates the skyline for miles around. Cardinal Richelieu was a Bishop here.
Mesnard la Barotiere . 11th century church of St.Christophe and the medieval wall frescos that were discovered in 1950.
La Pommeraie-sur-Sevre. 12th century church of St.Martins has some XV century Frescos on the south wall of the nave,
Notre Dame Vieux Pouzages. built around 1066 in the shape of a Latin cross it contains Medieval wall paintings.

Chateau Adventurers. 2 grand courses of adventure for a fabulous day out with the Family.

 

Châteaux:
Château Commequiers. Feudal chateau with moat. Hold spectacular events during the summer.
Château d'Apremont . The two surviving towers were part of a renaissance chateau built in the early 1500's...
Château d'Ardelay The Large 15th century square tower with red tiles, the wall court yard and several buildings...
Château de Barbe Bleu Chateau at Tiffauges. Its most infamous resident was Gilles de Rais also known as blue beard.
Chateau Bessay .This renaissance château has a magnificent Henry 1V tower and ancient pigeonnier.
Château de l'Hermenault. In 1003 a fortified priory was built here and was annexed to the Bishops of Maillezais abbey.
Château de la Greve. St. Martin des Noyers. 12th Century medieval château.
Château dela Guignardiere. Historic Renaissance château, you can view it from the cellars (Cave) to the roof timbers.
Château La Landebaudiere. The château was built in 1786 by Pierre-Prosper de Boisy the Marquis de Boisy, 
Château de Noirmoutier. Built in the 12th century it has survived well through the ages retaining all its charm and character. 
Château Talmont st.Hilaire Experience life in the middle ages in the Fortress of Richard the Lion Heart.
Château des Essarts . This medieval Château with its feudal moat sits on top of a mound which dates from the 10th century.
Château Garnache. Built for the lords of la Garnache around 1045 by the Viscount of Thouars.

Châteaux:
Château Commequiers. Feudal chateau with moat. Hold spectacular events during the summer.
Château d'Apremont . The two surviving towers were part of a renaissance chateau built in the early 1500's...
Château d'Ardelay The Large 15th century square tower with red tiles, the wall court yard and several buildings...
Château de Barbe Bleu Chateau at Tiffauges. Its most infamous resident was Gilles de Rais also known as blue beard.
Chateau Bessay .This renaissance château has a magnificent Henry 1V tower and ancient pigeonnier.
Château de l'Hermenault. In 1003 a fortified priory was built here and was annexed to the Bishops of Maillezais abbey.
Château de la Greve. St. Martin des Noyers. 12th Century medieval château.
Château dela Guignardiere. Historic Renaissance château, you can view it from the cellars (Cave) to the roof timbers.
Château La Landebaudiere. The château was built in 1786 by Pierre-Prosper de Boisy the Marquis de Boisy, 
Château de Noirmoutier. Built in the 12th century it has survived well through the ages retaining all its charm and character. 
Château Talmont st.Hilaire Experience life in the middle ages in the Fortress of Richard the Lion Heart.
Château des Essarts . This medieval Château with its feudal moat sits on top of a mound which dates from the 10th century.
Château Garnache. Built for the lords of la Garnache around 1045 by the Viscount of Thouars.

Château-la-Citardiere . Renaissance castle built around 1625 for Jacques de Morienne a tax collector.
Château Palluau Old feudal castle hidden amongst the woods.
Château du Parc Soubise. The chateau was burnt down during the war of the Vendée, today it is a ghostly reminder...
Château Pouzages The fortress which dates from the X11 and X111 centuries has 12 towers including the magnificent Keep.
Château Sigournais. 15th Century feudal castle at Sigournais on the border between the Haut and Bas Bocage...
Château St.Mesmin. Built in 1370 by Pierre-de-Montfaucon in a hexagonal shape has 5 horseshoe shaped towers,
Château Terre Neuve Fontenay-le-Comte. Built in 1580, contains monumental fireplaces, stone carved ceilings...
Châteaumur . The smallest, yet most enchanting feudal castle in the Vendee.
Loges Chabotterie. An astonishingly evocative insight into the gentility of life in the Vendée in the years before the Revolution.
Tour Moricq The keep of the medieval castle near Angles
Vieux Château Ile d'Yeu, built to defend the island from the English and Spainish, but also from pirates.

 

Chavagne en Pallaua follie the Sanctuarie de Notre Dame de Salette.
Chemin de Fer  Steam railway.The Vendée's only steam railway.
Cheval Parc horse and donkey park.
Cinescenie  de Puy-du-Fou. This unique night time spectacular is famous the world over.
Cite des Oiseaux wild fowl reserve.
Clisson (loire Atlantique) Medieval town with an Italian feel.
Coulon. (deux Sevres) Capital of the Green Venice.
Court d'Aron Ornimental & Tropical Gardens

Daviaud  Eco-museum of the Breton Marshes.
Ecluse- Pointe aux Herbes. Hydaulic feature of the Marais Poitevin.
Espace des RecordsExhibition of world record.
Espace Gaston Chassac The vendéen artist who painted on many media.
Feeling Forest. Adventure in the tree tops.
Feerie des SantonsMagnificent miniature villages peopled with 600 original santons
Folie de Finfarine . The Folly Finfarine is a tourist site that invites young and old to explore nature. 
Fontenay-le-Comte Renaissance town with many attractions, Cite de Plus Beau detour de France.
Foussais Payre "Petites Cites de Character" 
Gardens of the Vendée. There are many beautiful and interesting gardens in the Vendée
Grand Parc de Puy du Fou World famous Theme Park.
Green Venice The wet marshes of the Marais Poitevin. One of the major tourist attractions in France.

Haras de la Vendée. The Nation Stud, a most for horse lovers.
Historial de la Vendée. The museum of the Vendée.
Ile aux Jeux. Island of games, childrens play centre.
L'Ile d'Yeu. Island off the coast of the Vendée
Ile Noirmoutier.This is a beautiful and stunning island, and is must on everyone's list of must see.
Ile de Re (charente Maritime) Charming and picturesque island with so much to do and see
Indian Forest. Adventure park. One of the largest adventure parks in France.
Jardin du Loriot. Bamboo gardens.
Jardins de Olfacties. Purfumed gardens at Coex, scented trails water features and so much more...
Jardin du batiment. Thire. William Christie's remarkable garden.
Jardin du Prieure St.Pierre. Reaumur. An interesting garden well worth a visit.
Jardins de Chaligny.A garden of geometric design of the 18th century
Jardins du Vent. Garden of wind driven things
Kulmino. A water tower with panoramic views and exhibition of water cycle.

L'Aqueduc de Maille Fascinating medieval water system
l'Aunisceane, Water park complex at La Tranche-sur-Mer.
L'Ile aux Papillons Butterfly farm.
La Corniche From Les Sables to Port Bourgenay.
La Corniche Vendéene. From St.Gilles Croix de Vie to Sion-sur-l'Ocean.
La Rochelle. (Charente-Maritime) Frances second most visited tourist city
Le Noeud Hydaulic Bazoin Picturesque water management system.
Les P'tit Mousses. St Gilles Croix de Vie. Miniature ships you can ride around the lake of Jaunay.
Les Salines Boat trip through the marches to discover the salt production of the Marais Olonne
Loges Chabotterie The loges and their gardens are one of the more interesting stately homes in the Vendée

Maison de l'Ane Donkey farm with rides etc.
Maison Meunerie Working watermill.
Maison de la Riviere watermill.
Maison de la vie Rurale Eco-museum to the rural life.
Maison deux Victories. Mouilleron-en-Pareds. Museum of the lives of Clemenceau and Marechal Lattre.
Maison Libellules. dragonfly farm, eco-museum.
Maison-jardins Clemenceau. St.Vincent-sur-Jard. House and impressionist gardens of Georges Clemenceau
Manoir Reaumur. Science museum
Marais Breton.Picturesque and interesting marshlands in the north Vendée
Marais pays d'Olonne. Marshlands of the Marais d'Olonne
Marais Poitevin. 2nd largest marshland in France
Marais Salants. The salt marshes.

Markets Weekly markets of the Vendée.
Mervent Forest. This ancient forest with its lakes is as interesting as it is Beautiful.
Mervent Zoo. Small but well run and interesting zoo.
Mini Ville Miniature village Ile de Noirmoutier.
Moulin a Elise working watermill also houses the Tourist information office.
Moulin a Foulon.Cugand. Last working water driven woollen mill in France.
Moulin de Raire. Working windmill.
Moulin de Ramboug. Watermill open to the public.
Moulin des Alouette. Les Hebiers, windmills including one in working condition.
Moulin des Gourmands St.Reverend. Windmill Open to the Public.
Moulin Pocouinay. Renovated windmill with a museum near Oulmes.

 

Museums:
Automobile de Vendée museum of motor cars, motor bikes and carriages.
Historial de la Vendée. Vendées state of the art museum at les Lucs-sur Boulogne.
Musee Andre Deluol. St.Michel-en-l'herm. Works of scupture Andre Deluol
musée-de-l'Abbaye-St-Croix. Contemporary art gallery, Les Sables d'Olonne.
Musée de la France Protestante. The museum of the protestant movement in western France.
Musée Deux Victories.Mouiller-en-Pareds. celebrate the Vendées 2 men of the 2 World Wars.
Musée la Mie Caline. Museum of the bakers trade in the Vendee
Musée Ornithologique . Stuffed birds by Taxidermist Charles Payraudeau.Chaize le Vicomte.
Musée de Traditions Populaires Collection of arts ,crafts, costumes memorbilia. Olonne-sur-Mer.
Musée des utensiles St Denis la Chevasse Museum devoted to Kitchen utensils of bygone years.
Musée Vendeen. Fontenay le Comte. One of the major Museums of the Vendée.
Musée du Coquillage. The Sea Shell collection at Les Sables d'Olonne.

 

 

Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle. This small chapel on the Ile d'Yeu has watched over sailors for centuries.
Oceabul. Swimming pool complex and well being centre St.Jean-de-Monts.
Oceanile. Swimming pool complex on the Ile de Noirmoutier, with water slide torrent rivers etc.
Parc des Dunes. Fun parc, water games and pools, ideal family entertainment.
Parcours Adventure. St.Jean-de-Monts. Adventure in the Trees. 5 courses for all the family.
Passage du Gois. The 4.5km causeway that joins the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland appears twice a day.
Petit Moulin de Châteauneuf . Join the Vrignaud family in their 300 year old Windmill and learn about milling.
Pierre Brune. Fun Park in the Mervent Forest. Water dodgums, Toboggans, Games and Frills for all the Family.
Pointe de l'Aiguillon. Large nature reserve and the Anse d'Aiguillon, also some great beaches.
Pointe du Payre. Nature reserve and one of the prettiest places in the Vendee.
Pont du Brault. The last part of the drainage system on the Marais Poitevin.
Port Bourgenay. Interesting marina and cliff top walks plus nearby golf.
Port Courdault. Last working port on the Marais Poitevin now a very attractive and relaxing spot.
Port de la Meule. Charming and picturesque fishing harbour on the Ile d'Yeu.
Port du Bec Known as "Chinese port" because of the spindle wooden jetties. A picturesque fishing harbour.

Potager Extraordinaire. A special market garden that specialises in gourds and other rare vegetables.
Prieure de Grammont. Built by Richard the Lion Heart in the 13th Century .Open June to Sept.

 

Puy du Fou. The day time Grand Parc and the night time spectacular Cinescenie are world famous attractions.

Refuge de Grasla. In the woods just outside of Les Bouzils this is where the Vendéen army took refuge.
Rivers of the Vendée All the major rivers of the Vendée.
Roseraie de la Vendée. Superb rose gardens at St.Reverend. 
Rosnay. Village at the centre of the Vendée wine growing industry. Wine route and wine tasting.
Sanctaire Salette. A folly of cascading towers, renovated for 2010.
Sealand Noirmoutier The aquarium on the the island of Noirmoutier, cold and tropical fish, 200 different species.
St.Denis Payre. Nature reserve and observation station on the edge of the Marais Poitevin.
St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Picturesque port and marina, so much always going on.
Tepacap. Mesnard la Barotiere. Adventure park in the trees, plus other games.

Valley de Poupet. Picturesque watermill on the river Sévre Nantaise, summer music festival, and more.
Velo Rail. Commequiers.Take a trip along a disused railway line though the heart of the Bocage.
Vendée Miniature. Model Village at Bretignolles-sur-Mer. 1/10th scale model of a Vendée village of yester year.
Vieux Château, Ile d'Yeu. Old feudal castle which sits on a rock just off the western coast of the island.
Vouvant. Listed as one of the prettiest villages in France, also as village of painters.

Zoo les Sable d'Olonne. The largest zoo in the Vendée close to the beach 

 

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