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Vendee Gites
Fontenay le Comte
Puy du Fou
La Rochelle
Green Venice
Marais Poitevin
Department 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...

Vendee images - The river Vendee at Fontenay le Comte
The 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,
Vendee images- green-venice
images Vendee - The church at Vouvant
The 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 be found.
Vendee images - St.Gille Croix de Vie
images Vendee -Les Conches Beach
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.
The 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.
Vendee images - Arcais on the green Venice
Vendee images Puy de Fou, roman arena.
Vendee images - Peaceful country scene.
Finally 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.
Vendee images -  Marais Poitivin
A 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.
Vendee images - Damvix
Vendee images -- Mervent lake.
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
About the author: Tate spends the summers in the Vendee and is passionate about the Region, its culture and history, he writes exclusively for the website.

The coping of this article is permitted as long as the complete article along with this credit is published.
Vendee images - sailboard action at Le Trenche sur Mer.
Vendee images - Surfing at Le Trenche sur Mer.
marais salent