GITES WITH POOLS.
| We Specialise in Gites and Cottages with Pools in the South Vendee. France.
85 La Vendée being formerly a part of Le Bas Poitou took its name from
a small tributary of the Sèvre Niortaise. Often home to Richard the
Lionheart and believed to be the birthplace of Eleanor of Aquitaine the
Vendée borders the Atlantic Ocean to the West, and sitting centrally on
the coast of the Bay of Biscay is bordered to the north by the Sèvre
Nantaise and the Loire-Inferieure and to the south by the Sèvre
Niortaise. It also includes the islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu.
A Guide to the Vendee, Its history, culture, attractions, beaches and much more...
Vendée is divided into three general areas La Cote (Coast), Le Bocage
(woodland) and le Marais (marshland) these three areas surround the
Luçon/Fontenay Prairie which is principally responsible for Making the
Vendée the second most productive agricultural region in France. A
little like Devon in England the Vendée is agriculturally productive
but also relies heavily on tourism. The most important crop is wheat
though potatoes, maize and sunflowers also figure heavily. Fruit
including apples, cherries, peaches, plums and walnuts are plentiful
and livestock including cattle, sheep and horses are abundant. The
Parthenay beef cattle, though rare, are considered to be the pinnacle
of beef production, in much the same way as Aberdeen Angus beef is in
the UK. The salt marsh lamb from the Breton marshes in the North and
Poitevin marshes in the South is also legendary. Food processing is
also carried out on a large scale in the Vendée and companies
manufacturing charcuterie and ready meals, such as Fleury Michon, are
considered to be of national importance. “Jambon de la Vendée” a raw
cured ham is a speciality of the region. Also famous for its bakeries,
known by the “Label Rouge” designation the brioche, a sweet loaf, is
another Vendéen speciality,
region is highly regarded for its seafood and the mussel and oyster
beds around the L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer and St Michel en L’Herm area are
extremely productive. Les Sables D’Ollone is the principal fishing port
and the Vendée still has an active Sardine fishery and cannery. Wine
is also produced in the Vendée currently to the VDQS standard, but the
quality is improving year on year and could soon achieve the all
important Appellation Contrôle status. The main wine producing regions
are Vix, Brem, Pissotte, and Mareuil-sur-Lay, and it is rumoured that
Buckingham Palace buys wine from Vix. By far the most productive region
though is in the Mareuil-sur-Lay area, with a proliferation of small
producers centred on Rosnay.
La Cote, the coastal region is the main centre for tourism as it boasts 300 kilometres of coastline much of it having sandy “blue flag” beaches
with excellently clean waters. The beaches gently slope into the
Atlantic Ocean and are often backed by pine forests. The Vendéen coast
is part of a micro-climate producing 2,500 hours of sun per year,
equalling the best that the South of France has to offer. This is the
principal reason that it is often referred to as the Cote de Lumière,
or Coast of Light. The coastal region is also the area where the French
decided to build their holiday homes and amongst the normal tourist
developments many older and more substantial summer residences are to
The coastal region is obviously a Mecca for water sports. Surfing, wind surfing and sailing
are among the most popular water sports, however the more obscure and
extreme sports are also practiced such as land yachting, parasailing
and Para surfing. By far the most well known and prestigious event held
on the Vendéen coast is the Vendée Globe, a single handed round the
world yacht race which starts and finishes at Les Sables D’Olonne and
attracts tourists and the yachting set from all over the world. There
are many other holiday destinations such as La Tranche sur Mer,
L’Aiguillon sur Mer, La Tranche, St Giles Croix de Vie, St Jean de Mont
and Noirmoutier and as you would expect they all have their attractions.
bocage or woodland area accounts for two thirds of the Vendée and
consists of gently rolling hills, fields and small woods and forests.
The landscape is punctuated with sleepy, typically French, villages.
Calm and peaceful the laid back easy pace of life reflects what many
people see as the real France, and is the preferred destination of
visitors who want to relax and unwind. It is perhaps the reason why the
bocage has become home for many immigrants and has become a refuge for
those Parisians who no longer want the hustle and bustle of life in the
French capital. This is not to say that there is nothing to do in the
bocage there are many charming villages steeped in history. There are
also places such as the Puy du Fu
medieval park with its Cinéscénie evening summer spectaculars billed as
the world’s biggest night time show literally employing a cast of
thousands in telling some of the history of the Vendée. These are
sights which are unrivalled anywhere in the world.
there are the Marais or marshland areas. There are three areas of
marais in the Vendee, In the North is the Marais Breton, just north of
Les Sable d’Olonne is the Marais Salant and in the south of the
department bordering the Deux Sevre and Charente Maritime is the
principal of marais, the Marais Poitevin. Also known as Venise Vert or Green Venice,
it is a latticework of canals and waterways, with a surface area of 970
km² and is the largest marsh on the Atlantic coast and the second
largest, behind the Carmargue, in the whole of the country.
The marshes were formed when the sea level receded and by aluvial
deposits raising the level of what was the low lying Gulf de Pictons.
The unproductive landscapes were granted by the local noblemen to the
Benedictine Monks who as early as the 4th
century built abbeys on the banks of the higher ground at Luçon, Saint
Michel en l'Herm, Maillezais, Nouaille and Nieul sur l'Autize. At the
latter end of the 10th century attempts were made by the
monks to drain the marshes and facilitate some agriculture and in the
process canals were formed. These works were weakened by the neglect
arising from the “hundred year’s war” and the religious wars that
followed. The Dutch then took over the task of draining the western or
dry marsh, a job which was finished by Pierre Siette in the 17th
century after the Dutch were driven out. The eastern or wet marsh
defeated all attempts to tame it and remained a wild and desolate place
right up until the 19th century. Eventually as a result of
many diverse river widening schemes water levels were finally regulated
and the marshland stabilised.
network of roads criss cross the marais often running alongside the
canals, and dotted with beautiful Vendéen houses. They join the various
pretty little towns and villages together and offer the tourist many
beautiful routes through the marshes. The plethora of canals are
covered in green 'weed' (hence the nickname 'Venise Verte') and can be
travelled either by organised trips or by hiring a tradiional barque
and propelling oneself. There are several 'embarcadères', from which
boats can be hired and the drained marsh land is home to a prolific and
varied fauna, often best seen from these boats.
The Vendée is without doubt a varied and historic region of France its people tempered from the pain and suffering of the Wars of the Vendée,
and its landscape sculpted by the Atlantic. No matter what your
preference you will find an area to suit your mood from the slow laid
back bocages and marais to the lively coast, the Vendée is without
doubt a jewel in the French holiday crown. - Tate
author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about
the Region, its culture and history, he writes exclusively for the www.gites-with-pools.co.uk website.
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