Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendee: tourism & sightseeing
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Fontenay-le-Comte is a town found on the banks of the gently flowing Vendee River, inland in southern Vendee and north-west of Maillezais. Fontenay-le-Comte was the capital of the Vendee region around the end of the 18th century, and the most interesting buildings date from that period and the preceding centuries.
Note: Fontenay Abbey is NOT in this town - please see our detailed visitor guide at Fontenay Abbey.
A quiet and pleasant country town, there are several interesting buildings to discover in in Fontenay-le-Comte as well as the Chateau de Terre-Neuve and it makes a very pleasant place for a stroll.
The centre of Fontenay-le-Comte is a conservation area, restricting development, and you will come across some impressive mansions and townhouses as you pass through the open squares and past the fountains - the tourist office will give you a useful guide to follow to ensure you see the best of the town.
The main highlights are the arcades of Place Belliard; the Fontaine des Quatre Tias; and the medieval houses along Rue des Loges - the Maison Millepertuis and the half-timbered house a little further along the street. You can also visit Fontenay museum to learn more of the history of the town.
The view of the town is dominated by the spire of the Church of Notre-Dame: the church was built in the 15th century in the 'flamboyant gothic' style on the site of a much older church: the roman style crypt below the church was bult in the 11th century, then 'lost' for several centuries until it was rediscovered in the 19th century. The Church of Saint-Jean (on Place Saint-Jean) also dates from the 15th century although it has been repaired and renovated several time since.
There is a park area around the remains of the castle (Parc Baron) at the top of the town, and a pretty little medieval garden in the same park. (At the time of our visit the garden was very neglected and the park rather poorly maintained - a shame because it could easily be a highlight for Fontenay-le-Comte.)
You will also want to walk along the riverside in the town centre which is nicely maintained and also gives nice views across the town. There are a few benches along the Vendee River where you can stop and enjoy the peace.
Chateau de Terre-Neuve
You can vist the 16th century Chateau de Terre-Neuve in Fontenay-le-Comte. This is an impressive example of the French renaissance style of architecture, lovingly furnished and known for its fireplaces and ceilings.
Built for the 'High Provost of the constables of France, Nicolas Rapin, who was also a companion to King Henry IV, the castle is also well known as being home to a leading 19th century artist, Marquis Octave de Rochebrune, who produced nearly 500 etchings while at the castle.
Located in Fontenay-le-Comte the castle is open from 1 May to 30 September, 9.00 - 12.00 and 14.00 - 19.00. Entrance charge (around seven euros) payable. See www.chateau-terreneuve.com for more details.
Close to Fontenay-le-Comte
Also recommended, you can explore the grounds of the Chateau de l'Hermenault to the north-west of the town - a tranquil setting for the parklands and interesting outbuildings they contain (especially the interior of the large barn).
Fontenay-le-Comte is well placed for exploring the unique marshland environment of the Marais Poitevin region
Photos of Fontenay-le-Comte
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Map of Fontenay-le-Comte and places nearby
Visit near Fontenay-le-Comte with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Vendee
Fontenay-le-Comte has received the following tourist classifications: recommended detour town (plus beau detour); historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History
Address: Fontenay-le-Comte, Pays de la Loire, 85200, France || GPS: latitude 46.466, longitude -0.806065
Plan your visit to Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendee
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Natur'Zoo de Mervent: zoo or wildlife park (7 km)
- Abbaye Royale (Nieul-sur-l'Autise): religious monument (11 km)
- Abbaye Saint Pierre et Eglise de Saint Nicolas (Maillezais): religious monument (12 km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame (Vouvant): religious monument (12 km)
- Vouvant: most beautiful village (12 km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption (Maille): religious monument (14 km)
- Marais Poitevin: grand site of france (18 km)
- Jardins du Bâtiment: remarkable garden (18 km)
- Baie de l'Aiguillon: site of natural beauty (19 km)
- Eglise de Saint-Eulalie (Benet): religious monument (19 km)
- Marans: ville fleurie 4* (23 km)
- Coulon: most beautiful village (23 km)
Market days in Fontenay-le-Comte, France
Regular market(s) are held in Fontenay-le-Comte each Saturday all day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Fontenay-le-Comte (Francais)