Visit Vendee, France
The Vendee is loved by French and overseas visitors alike as a centre for family-friendly holidays on the long, gently-sloping sandy Atlantic beaches
Vendee: an introduction
The Vendée is a very popular region of France with visitors, especially those with children, above all for the coastline and family entertainment.
There are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Vendee away from the beach but apparently most children prefer paddling than sightseeing - try to allow at least one or two mornings to venture off exploring!
To help make your travel planning easier we have divided our coverage of the department into 'coastal' and 'non-coastal' regions:
Vendée beaches and coastal resorts
In a department that attracts more than five million visitors a year, most visits to Vendée are concentrated in one of the many seaside resorts, with their long gently sloping sandy beaches and family friendly facilities.
Vendee is best known as a centre for beach holidays, and for good reason. The Vendee beaches are perfect for children and great for windsurfers and birdwatching, and are often backed by pine forests.
Some parts of the coast are rather built up with campsites, others sections are lined with grand 19th century villas, and others backed by attractive pine woods, some are easily accessible and some require a bit of effort, but one thing is certain - you will certainly find a family beach to your liking somewhere here in Vendee!
See Popular coastal resorts for highlights
Towns and villages away from the beach
The eastern regions of Vendée are less visited than the coast but there are several interesting towns and villages to explore including Vouvant, classified among the 'most beautiful villages of France'.
There are lots of other small pretty villages, often little more than hamlets, that you will pass as you travel around the department, often without a particular noteworthy 'highlight', but no less enjoyable for that.
Another highlight to the east of the Vendee is the marshes and canals of the Marais Poitevin area.
See Other towns and villages to visit for highlights
Other attractions and entertainments in Vendee
As well as the resorts, towns and villages reviewed in the sections above there are other reasons to take your holiday in the Vendée - the region has various popular family attractions including:
- the very popular Puy du Fou theme park - various special events and historical re-enactments take place in a carefully designed setting of France through the ages.
- Bluebeard's castle at Tiffauges has various displays and spectacles laid on for entertainment
- the water park at Oceanile, Noirmoutier
- there are more gentle quiz-pathfinder games at Chateau de la Guignardiere.
Most regions of Vendée have some sort of festival or display close to hand, especially during the summer months - ask at the tourist office close to where you are staying.
Historical monuments in Vendee
Although less numerous than in the Loire to the east there are a sprinkling of historical monuments to discover in the Vendee, including:
Nature & Outdoors
There are several ways to enjoy the natural environment of the Vendee department:
- there is more to the island of Noirmoutier than salt, enjoy one of the marked out nature trails
- the marshy region north of La Rochelle at Marais Poitevin - is a peaceful and unique marshland region
- take a boat out from the northern coastline of Vendee to explore the quiet island of Ile d'Yeu and its old chateau
- The Massif Forestier of Mervent-Vouvant is an extensive (13,000 acres) region, largely wooded, and criss-crossed with rivers, footpaths, cycle trails etc and has a lake where water-based activities can be pursued. It is in the south-eastern Vendee. Visit also the nearby village of Foussais-Payre.
- Many of the popular beaches are backed by extensive forets with marked nature trails to enjoy
Vendee is a 'cycle friendly' department and various routes are laid out, both along the coast and inland, and varying in length from about 20-65 kilometres - ask for the brochure 'Les sentiers cyclable' in any Vendee tourist office.
Vendée beaches and coastal resorts
We visit many of the most popular of the resorts, listed here travelling from north to south along the coast.
The island of Noirmoutier is visited for both the beaches and for the towns and villages such as Noirmoutier-en-Ille
The most northern of the long sandy beach resorts in Vendée, Saint-Jean-de-Monts is also among the most popular
Enjoy a day following the coast path around the Ile d'Yeu, and relaxing on the island's beaches
See Ile d'Yeu
The popularity of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez is clear as soon as you walk in the sunshine along the long sandy beach here!
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is one of the liveliest towns, ports and beaches on the Cote de Lumière
The resort at Les Sables d'Olonne stays active into the evening with lots of restaurants and entertainments
See Sables d'Olonne
Port Bourgenay & Talmont-Saint-Hilaire
Talmont-Saint-Hilaire, the port at Port Bourgenay and the nearby beach at Plage de Veillon together make for an interesting destination
See Port Bourgenay
The port of town of Jard-sur-Mer has easy access to attractive beaches either side of the town harbour
The town of Longeville-sur-Mer is just a few kilometres from the family friendly and surfing beaches at Le Bouil, Le Rocher and Les Conches
With 'Station Kid', 'Famille Plus' and 'Blue Flag beach' awards La Tranche-sur-Mer is a very popular family-orientated resort
At the southern end of the Vendee 'Côte de Lumière' La Faute-de-Mer is on a peninsula lined with beaches and covered with forests!
See La Faute-sur-Mer
Selected towns and villages to explore inland in the Vendée department
One of the prettier market town in the Vendée, visit the castle and hitoric centre of Fontenay-le-Comte, a listed 'town of art and history'
Luçon has an interesting cathedral to visit towards the south of the department
On the edges of the Marais-Poitevin, visit the evocative ruins of Maillezais Abbey
See Maillezais abbey
The unique marsh areas of the Marais Poitevin fall on the border between Charente-Maritime and Vendée
See Marais Poitevin
The village of Nieul sur l'Autise is most visited for the 12th century Abbey of Saint Vincent
The village of Vouvant is classified among the 'most beautiful villages in France'
Market towns & days in Vendee
all markets in morning unless otherwise statedAngles: Wednesday & Sunday
Brem-sur-Mer: Tuesday & Friday
Bretignolles-sur-Mer: Thursday & Sunday
Challans: Tuesday & Saturday & Friday
Fontenay-le-Comte: Saturday all day
La Barre-de-Monts: Saturday
La Faute-sur-Mer: Thursday & Sunday
La Gueriniere: Thursday & Sunday
La Mothe-Achard: Friday
La Roche-sur-Yon: Wednesday & Tuesday & Thursday & Saturday & Friday
La Tranche-sur-Mer: Wednesday & Saturday
Les Essarts: Wednesday
Lucon: Wednesday & Saturday
Noirmoutier: Tuesday & Sunday & Monday & Friday
Sables d'Olonne: every day
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie: Wednesday & Tuesday & Thursday & Sunday & Saturday
Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez: Tuesday & Thursday & Sunday & Monday & Friday
Saint-Jean-de-Monts: Wednesday & Saturday
Selected tourist destinations in the Vendee
The following sites have received official "tourist classifications"...
Zoo or wildlife park
Fauconnerie du Puy du Fou (falconry)
Natur'Zoo de Mervent
Parc zoologique des Sables-d'Olonne
4* Towns in Bloom
Towns of Art and History
Puy de Fou
Sites of Natural Beauty
Baie de l'Aiguillon
Secteur Sauvegardé (protected historical town centre)
Listed 'Remarkable Gardens'
Jardins de Chaligny
Jardins du Bâtiment
Abbaye Royale (Nieul-sur-l'Autise)
Abbaye Saint Pierre et Eglise de Saint Nicolas (Maillezais)
Eglise de Notre-Dame (Vouvant)
Eglise de Notre-Dame de l'Assomption (Maille)
Eglise de Saint-Eulalie (Benet)
towns classified as Recommended Detours
Georges Clemenceau house
Villages classified as "most beautiful villages"
French version: Vendee (Francais)