Vendee: tourism and sightseeing

Photo of Vendee in France

Visit Vendee, France

The Vendee is loved by both French and foreign visitors as a centre for family holidays on the long, gently sloping sandy beaches and for the popular family entertainment

Vendee tourism

The Vendee is a very popular area for visitors, especially those with children and those who appreciate the beaches and the family entertainments and attractions of the area.

There are many places to visit and things to do in Vendee ... but most children apparently prefer to paddle than to look at cities and castles!

To help make planning your trip easier, we have divided our coverage of the department into "coastal" and "non-coastal" areas:

Vendée beaches and coastal resorts

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

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, ideal for cycling.

Some parts of the coast are rather built up with holiday homes, others 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 our guide to the beaches in Vendée to help you choose where to stay...

See 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.

Noirmoutier

The island of Noirmoutier is visited for both the beaches and for the towns and villages such as Noirmoutier-en-Ille

See Noirmoutier

Notre-Dame-de-Monts

The most northern of the long sandy beach resorts in Vendée, Notre-Dame-de-Monts is also among the most popular

See Notre-Dame-de-Monts

Saint-Jean-de-Monts

Saint-Jean-de-Monts is among the most popular and lively resorts in northern Vendee

See Saint-Jean-de-Monts

Ile d'Yeu

Enjoy a day following the coast path around the Ile d'Yeu, and relaxing on the island's beaches

See Ile d'Yeu

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

The popularity of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez is clear as soon as you walk in the sunshine along the long sandy beach here!

See Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

Saint Gilles Croix de Vie

Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is one of the liveliest towns, ports and beaches on the Cote de Lumière

See Saint Gilles Croix de Vie

Bretignolles-sur-Mer

Bretignolles-sur-Mer is a small resort with a very long beach!

See Bretignolles-sur-Mer

Sables d'Olonne

The resort at Les Sables d'Olonne stays active into the evening with lots of restaurants and entertainments

See Sables d'Olonne

Chateau d'Olonne

The small resort at Chateau d'Olonne has a very scenic coastal path

See Chateau 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

Jard-sur-Mer

The port of town of Jard-sur-Mer has easy access to attractive beaches either side of the town harbour

See Jard-sur-Mer

Longeville-sur-Mer

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

See Longeville-sur-Mer

La Tranche-sur-Mer

With 'Station Kid', 'Famille Plus' and 'Blue Flag beach' awards La Tranche-sur-Mer is a very popular family-orientated resort

See La Tranche-sur-Mer

La Faute-sur-Mer

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

Towns and villages away from the beach

VouvantThe 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 selected towns and villages to explore inland in Vendée

Fontenay-le-Comte

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'

See Fontenay-le-Comte

Lucon

Luçon has an interesting cathedral to visit towards the south of the department

See Lucon

Maillezais abbey

On the edges of the Marais-Poitevin, visit the evocative ruins of Maillezais Abbey

See Maillezais abbey

Marais Poitevin

The unique marsh areas of the Marais Poitevin fall on the border between Charente-Maritime and Vendée

See Marais Poitevin

Nieul-sur-l'Autise

The village of Nieul sur l'Autise is most visited for the 12th century Abbey of Saint Vincent

See Nieul-sur-l'Autise

Vouvant

The village of Vouvant is classified among the 'most beautiful villages in France'

See Vouvant

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

Maillezais Abbey

Although less numerous than in the Loire to the east there are a sprinkling of historical monuments to discover in the Vendee, including:

  • the ruined abbey at Maillezais is on the border of the Marais Poitevin marshes
  • the abbey at Nieul-sur-l'Autise is also in the Vendee department
  • the 'Logis de la Chabotterie' is an interesting and entertaining way to learn about life in the region pre-Revolution

Nature & Outdoors

Ile d'YeuThere 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

Cycling

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.

See also:

Map of Vendee and places to visit

More information

See more places, tourist attractions and local markets at visiting Vendee

See a list of all Vendee communes

French version: Vendee (Francais)