The Vendée is justifiably proud of its beaches. Most have achieved the blue flag for cleanliness and are typically gently sloping with fine golden sand. They attract visitors to holiday on their shores from all around the world and have done so for more than a century. There is nothing like blue sea, excellent golden sand and glorious sunshine to conjure up a picture of the ideal holiday and the Vendée has an abundance of all of them.
There are 3 main resorts next to each other, La Tranche sur Mer, l'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, and La Faute-sur-Mer. All are excellent for families,for the more touristy type of resort les Sables-d'Olonne offers full facilities expected of a commercialised resort.
Beaches south of the Vendee spread down into the Charente Maritime region of Poitou Charente and include the wonderful island Ile de re.
Below is some information of the beaches available and beginning with the more popular resorts, then the following resorts running from North to South of the Vendee.
Les Conches This is one of the most popular beaches along this stretch of coast, it is a Mecca for surfers and bathers. It is an amazing expanse of beach where the Atlantic ocean caresses its golden shores which is backed, first by sand dunes and then by forests of pine and Holm oak which were planted to stabilize the dunes.
The main car park is almost on the beach and there are a few beachside cafes open during the summer season. Further back in the village there are some shops for beach goods and a good surfing shop as well as cafes and Restaurants.
All year round you will find surfers on the beach as the surf can be as good here as anywhere on the Atlantic Coast of the Vendée.
In all seasons the beach is very popular for sea angling especially after storms, and at low tide there are cockles to be gathered plus beachcombing for shells and driftwood.
St.Jean de Monts The plages of des Demoiselles, this beach widens out to become a glorious stretch of fine sand, there are 7 stations de surveillance along this...The Seaside resort of St. Jean de Monts has several glorious beaches which include the Plage Central, the Plages des Demoiselles to the south and the Plage de la Tonnelle to the north. The beach widens out to a glorious stretch of fine sand and there are 7 stations de surveillance along the commercial stretch of beach. There are all of the facilities that you would expect to find at a large commercial beach nearby, although car parking can be a problem especially during high season.
Les Sables d'Olonne The beach at Les Sables d'Olonne also known as Le Grande Plage, is one of the safest in the Vendée. This long crescent of gently shelving sand is protected to the north by the harbour wall, not only on the Les Sables side, but also by the breakwater that stretches out from the Fort de Saint Nicolas. This headland protects shipping entering and leaving the port from the rocks of la Baleine on the tip of the headland at Chaume. This protection includes disrupting the tidal currents and the Atlantic swells that cause undercurrents. There is less protection as you move south towards La Tanchette. La Tanchette may well be preferred by the surfer and wind surfer, but le Grande Plage is home to the dingy sailor, these often colourful boats add great atmosphere and interest to this part of the beach.
There are surveillance posts on the beach and, as you would expect from a tourist centre as large as Les Sables d’Olonne, there are many facilities including restaurants, cafes and bars as well the usual gift and tourist shops close at hand.
If you want a break from the beach you can visit the Zoo, or take a walk around the fishing harbour or the pleasure port which, every four years in November, hosts the start and finish of the world famous Vendée Globe sailing race.
La Tranche-sur-Mer In the far south of the Vendée is the popular seaside resort of La Tranche sur Mer, it has 13 kilometres of beach (made up of 7 beaches)which follows on from the beaches of La Faute-sur-mer in an almost endless line, 8 kilometres of which are south facing.
La Tranche sur Mer has some of the cleanest beaches on the Atlantic coast, and they regularly receive blue flag status. The beaches closest to the town are ideal for children and are gently sloping with protected waters; they also have the bonus of having every amenity close by.
The shops, restaurants and cafes are all close to the beach, so if you need a spare beach ball or an ice cream you won't have far to go.
La Tranche sur Mer is a Mecca for water sports, whether your penchant is wind-surfing, sailing or something more extreme the nautical centre is the place to head for. The best breaks for the surfer are just north of the town around the lighthouse and beyond, and the Atlantic breakers offering something to the novice and seasoned surfer alike.
La Faute-sur-Mer As you travel south down the Atlantic coast of the Vendée you finally come to the most southerly beaches in the Vendée . From La Tranche sur Mer 8 kilometres of beaches pass by the town of La Faute-sur-Mer and onward towards the Pointe D'Arcay.
This fragile environment of sand dunes is stabilised by 200 hectares of pine forest and Holm Oak (evergreen Oak) which were planted nearly 150 years ago.
The fine sands are the ideal playground for sun worshipers and sports enthusiasts. It is the perfect place for sand yachting, wind surfing, surfing and jogging.
In the forest behind the beach there is a Parcours de Santé (a fitness circuit) for those who really want to keep in shape.
La Plage de Bulugas is the locales sand yachting centre. The fine sand packs hard on the area between the low and high water marks, making it the ideal spot.
La Plage de la Barrique is one of the Vendée’s five naturist beaches and looks after the needs of those that want to commune with nature and get that all over tan.
The town of La Faute-sur-Mer has everything needed to make your holiday complete, from shops for beach toys to cafes, bars and restaurants.
L'Aiguillon-sur Mer L'Aiguillon on the east side of the River Lay is at the very bottom of the Vendée, and has attracted beach lovers for more than a century.
The Beaches in the town of l’Aiguillon-sur-Mer are based around 2 man-made lakes and although not natural, they are extremely high quality, making a very safe environment for children to swim and parents to relax. There is a wide expanse of sands with a safe shallow children’s swimming area which is clearly marked out. Because it is a man-made environment, and with typical Gallic style, the beach has been developed with families in mind. It has all the facilities to hand such as toilettes, cafés, restaurants and a children’s play area. The lakes provide all manner of water sports, and there is ample parking.
The point at l'Aiguillon This long stretch of dyke has many small beaches and copious mussels
Ile d'Yeu The island of the Ile d'Yeu, with its varied coastal landscapes, has beaches that will cater for all tastes from sandy coves to open beaches.
St.Gilles Croix de Vie has 4 beaches listed, Le Grand Plage which runs south from the mouth of the River Vie, Le Petit Plage, Le Plage de Boisvinet and Le Plage de la Pelle a Porteau.
Le Grande Plage is the major beach for Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie , it has a wide stretch of fine sand and runs from the mouth of the River Vie south to Jaunay Beach.
The major problem with Le Grand Plage is parking, which is very restricted and in the high season it is almost impossible as the hotels and apartment buildings are right on the beach and the roads behind have very little space for visitors.
The width of the beach is restricted at high tide and hence becomes very crowded in high season. There is surveillance from the end of June to the start of September.
Beach facilities include changing huts, public toilets and showers and there are separate toilets and showers for the handicapped. The long promenade has a large number of cafes, bars restaurants and shops.
Le Plage de Boisvinet is at the entrance to the Corniche (coastal road) and the jetty. This south facing beach is ideal for families, there is a diving board available at high tide, a sand volleyball court and a beach club. The beach has surveillance in July and August.
Le Petit Plage is at the foot of St. Josephine's tower at the entrance of the port. This south facing beach has a natural swimming pool that is exposed at low tide and benefits from solar heating. There is no surveillance.
Le Plage de la Pelle a Porteau is a small beach bordered by rocks. There is no surveillance.
Jard-sur-Mer Noted more for its pretty harbour there is a small area of beach and interesting rock pools .
Jard-sur-Mer, is located on the D21 road from Talmont St. Hilaire to Longville-sur-Mer, and is more noted for its attractive harbour than its beaches. There are however beaches and an area of rocks where the pleasures of discovering the treasures of the underwater world can keep children and adults alike entertained for hours.
To the south La Plage du Grand Boisvinet has a base for divers and windsurfers although swimming is prohibited.
La Plage de Boisvinet has surveillance, and the rocks are exposed at low tide.
Next to the harbour is La Plage de Morpoigne, which reveals rocks and rock pools at low tide.
To the north of harbour, La Plage du Pe du Canon is a beautiful beach with fine golden sand and surveillance.
La Plage de la Point du Canon is rocky.
La Plage de Madoreau is on a rocky coastline with sand above the high water mark.
La Plage de Légère is similar to La Plage de Madoreau.
La Plage de la Ragounite is the last of the beaches, it has a narrow strip of sand above the high water mark, although it is a little wider than the previous two beaches.
La Plage de la Mine is a beautiful beach of fine sand with surveillance and facilities during season.
Port de Collet The beach at the port of Collet straddles the border between the Vendée and the Loire Atlantic. The beach is small and when the tide is out it is almost impossible to see the sea over the mudflats.
Longville-sur-Mer. The commune of Longville controls beaches including Les Conches, La Roches and La Terriere. The beaches are often quieter, as the area is made up mostly of modern residential properties within the forest, with a few holiday camps nearby.
Further beaches from North to South Vendee:
Beaches of Noirmoutier The island of Noirmoutier has many glorious beaches that vary from picture postcard sandy coves to long stretches of beach.
As with most islands, the Ile de Noirmoutier has a varied collection of beaches from the pretty Plage de Dames to the aptly named Plage d'Or. Many are in small picturesque coves with boats moored offshore, others are long stretches of sand backed by dunes.
The island is often called a displaced Mediterranean island, this is due to the whitewashed cottages and buildings, the cuisine which is maritime and fresh and a landscape that is vibrant and vivid. Noirmoutier is a very flat island it is mostly just a few meters above sea level, with the maximum height being 22 metres.
The island is in the shape of a figure 8 with the top part having the smaller beaches and coves with rocky outcrops while the western side of the lower part is almost one continuous beach.
La Barre de Monts The most northerly beaches of the Vendée, other than those on the Island of Noirmoutier come within this commune.
Notre Dame de Monts There are 8 beaches within the commune of Notre dame de Monts.
Plage de la Tonnelle.Just north of Paree de Jonc this popular beach has parking close to the beach and other facilities.
Plage de la Paree de Jonc.Half way between St.Jean de Mont and Notre Dame de Monts, this beach has surveillance in high season.
Plage des Soixante Bornes North of des Becs this beach is at the South end of St Jean de Monts, there is surveillance during high season.
Le Petite Bec. Just north of le Grand Bec
Le Grand Bec The Plage de Salines is one of two official nudist beaches in the Vendée situated on a quiet stretch away from the main area.
Les Mouettes. A beach for the commune of les Mannes..
Plage de la Pege. This is a very busy beach in the summer with many local camp sites, but is almost totally deserted in the winter...
Plage Paree Preneau This is an unofficial nudist beach which can be found away from the main beach.
Plage de Riez The Plage des Demoiselles begins a succession of 9 beaches over 12km.
Sion sur l'Ocean. One of the few cliff areas on the Vendée, there are a few sandy beaches in sheltered coves.
Plage du Jaunay. This is reached via the rue de plage du Jaunay. During the summer it is busy.
Notre Dames des Dunes. The beach can be reached from the rue des Talles and travels north for about 1 km...
Bretignollies-sur-Mer. This town is not really noted for its beaches although there is a beach at La Paree.
Brem-sur-Mer. There are some good sandy beaches here though the town is set back some distance from the sea..
Plage des Granges. This is the final length of beach from Sauveterre towards Brem-sur-Mer, the Chenal du Havre separates the two...
Sauveterre This is a favourite beach for surfers and has been a Mecca for locals and holidaymakers alike.
Plage de l'Aubraie Just north of the Cote Sauvage at Chaume the beach at l'Aubraie is the start of miles of beaches
Chaume. The coast here starts off as rocks with the occasional small sandy beach, there are ...
La Tanchet This beach is on the extreme South of the Grande Baie des Sables d'Olonne.
Port Bourgenay There is no beach here but the rock pools are good and there is a marina with waterside cafes and restaurants
Plage du Veillon. This pretty beach at the mouth of the Payre river has steep sand dunes protecting the spit
Pointe du Payre The beaches of le Mine and Payre estuary...
St.Vincent-sur-Jard. Though not the wide expanse of sand found further south, this beach with its rock pools is popular
La Rocher. This is the beach for Longville-sur-Mer. It has a car park almost on the beach and cafes and restaurants at hand.
La Terriere. Just North of La Trenche-sur-Mer this beach is a continuation of the beaches from the lighthouse. The north end is an area used by naturists...
Plage Naturiste. For those who wish to be at one with nature, (then) the beaches of the Vendée have a lot to offer. With 146kms of beaches and 2500 hours of sunshine a year it's not difficult to see why the Vendée rates so highly
Activities at the Coast
Surfing Beaches The Vendée is a prime venue for those who like to surf (the waves) whether on long, short or body boards or even kite sailing. More information on Activities in the Vendee.
Beaches for Sailing. There are many beaches that cater for the sailing enthusiast, whether it be in a dingy, catamaran, or land yacht. More information on Sailing on Activities in the Vendee.
Fishing. Fishing on the Vendée coast, whether beach casting or in rock pools has been an integral part of many people’s holiday. More information on Fishing on Activities in the Vendee.
Wind surfers. From beginners to wave jumpers there is somewhere to suit all abilities and genres of this wide and varied sport, with the diversity of conditions available one should have no problem in finding a location to suit one’s particular level of expertise. Lessons available for all levels.
Off shore cruising: For those who want sail bigger boats either self skippered charter or with a captain, the Vendée with is glorious coastline has both the venues and the companies to offer either, whether it be for an hour or two a day or longer.
The main centres for this are St.Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Les Sables d'Olonne, Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile.
Agrcoseil Nautique, St gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Tel. 02 51 54 30 50.
Sablaise Nautique,Port Olona, Les sables d'Olonne. 02 51 32 62 16.
Semvie Boating.Tel. 02 51 60 11 11.
Sand Yachting. The vast stretches of beach in the Vendée are ideal for this activity and the beaches around Saint-Jean-de-Monts, Saint-Giles-Croix-de-Vie and Les Sable d'Olonne are notable for this exhilarating sport.
Lessons are available from:
www.semvie Nautisme. Bd. De l'egalite. St Gilles-croix-de-Vie
Tel. 02 51 60 11 11
Char a Voile des Olonnes Grand Plage,Les Sables d'Olonne.
Tel. 06 83 35 19 93. From 1st may till15th June.
Club Nautique. Base des Vallees, St.Hilaire-de-Riez.
Tel. 02 28 10 88 02.
Wind Force Vie. 31 Quai Gorin. St Gilles.
Tel. 02 51 60 02 58.
Assoc. Nautique de Bourgenay. Plage Veillon.
Tel. 02 51 22 02 57.
Char a Voile Longevillais. Plage du Rocher.
Tel.06 79 02 33 55.
CHAR A VOILE Plage des Bégulas 85,460 FAUTE SUR MER
Tel. 02 51 56 43 41
Kite Surfing was born from the cross-breeding of surfboards and kites, and provides a fascinating ballet of multicoloured wings and spectacularly gymnastic movement. It is possible to practise this sport though it seems that most places demand that you are in possession of the appropriate licence.
Lesson in kite surfing are available at;
Assoc. Olona kite club, Les Sables d'Olonne.
Tel. 02 51 23 58 72.
Bret-Kite School. 5,rue des Poiriers Bretignolles-sur-Mer.
Tel. 06 60 99 47 33.
Assoc. Kiteboarders Gillocruciens Bretignollais.
Tel. 06 24 33 45 95.
Parascending. For those that want the thrill of hanging from a paracute while being towed by a boat, parascending is available at, Les Circaetes, Les Sables d'Olonne. Tel.06 09 80 28 70.