Ile d’Yeu, Ile de Noirmoutier: the islands of Vendée to visit absolutely
Two particularly pretty and pleasant islands lie off the Vendée coast: while the Île d’Yeu is about 17 kilometers off the Vendée coast, the Île de Noirmoutier is connected to the mainland by a submersible road of just over 4 kilometers long, the Passage du Gois.
The Ile d’Yeu offers a variety of landscapes – cliffs, coves, sandy beaches and other dunes – which can be admired during a bike ride, for example. Don’t miss Port Joinville, the island’s main village and charming fishing port, as well as, in the south-east of the island, Pointe des Corbeaux, where an Art Deco architectural lighthouse stands.
In Noirmoutier, nicknamed “the island of mimosas”, you will discover salt marshes, dunes, as well as the Bois de la Chaise, where you can admire sumptuous villas in various architectural styles.
The castle of Tiffauges, or Bluebeard’s castle
Sometimes nicknamed “the castle of Bluebeard”, in reference to its most famous resident, Gilles de Rais, Marshal of France associated with the character of the tale of Charles Perrault, the castle of Tiffauges represents the most imposing medieval ruin of the department.
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Classified as a Historic Monument, the Château de Tiffauges notably has a conservatory of war machines, within which there are around fifteen pieces, regularly tested during performances. You can, for example, learn how to shoot the breastplate or discover the operation of war machines such as the couillard, the mangonel and the trebuchet.
Saint-Pierre de Maillezais Abbey
A veritable architectural gem of Vendée religious art, this abbey church, erected in the 14th century as a cathedral, combines the influences of three currents – the Romanesque, the Gothic and the Renaissance. If in the past, the height of the building was around 23 meters under vaults, today only vestiges of the abbey of Saint-Pierre de Maillezais remain.
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The Guittière oyster basin, to eat oysters in Vendée
Lovers of iodized flavors, go to the Guittière oyster basin, in the heart of the Payré estuary, to taste in particular the oyster labeled “Vendée Atlantique”. In all, there are about twenty oyster farmers who produce nearly 500 tonnes of oysters each year in this part of the Vendée! Why are these oysters so popular? Because the waters of the channel are half-fresh, half-salt – the village of La Guittière has long been a village of salt workers.
Les Sables d’Olonne
On holiday in the Vendée, don’t miss a stop at Les Sables d’Olonne, which is full of charming corners, starting with the oldest district of the city, that of La Chaume. While the rest of the town is more of a modern urban style, here you will find a maze of alleys that lead to the port, where small low houses with narrow windows follow one another.
The Penotte Island district, in the city center, is characterized by narrow streets, the walls of which are covered with hollyhocks. The houses are decorated with mosaics, made from multicolored shells – whelks, oysters and other scallops are included.
Finally, don’t leave without seeing the Puits d’Enfer, very close to the Château d’Olonne: this fault in the rock lets the sea rush in! Speaking of the sea, Les Sables d’Olonne is also renowned for its salt marshes.
The Marais poitevin, or the green Venice of Vendée
Between land and sea, the Marais poitevin, doubly labeled Regional Natural Park and Grand Site de France, straddles the departments of Vendée, Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime. In southern Vendée, the area nicknamed “Venise Verte” extends over more than 112,000 hectares of verdant nature, which can be discovered during a trip in a traditional boat, along the canals, or during a cycling getaway on the trails. The second largest wetland in France has a whole range of atypical flora and fauna to discover!
Local animals in La Roche-sur-Yon
Did you like the Machines of the Island of Nantes? You will love the local animals in La Roche-sur-Yon. Crocodile, sacred ibis, hippopotamus, perch of the Nile or dromedary constitute the mechanical bestiary imagined by François Delarozière, located on Place Napoléon, in the center of the city. As a bonus, they are visible for free, from the beginning of February to the end of December. Ideal for the whole family !
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The Mont des Alouettes, in Vendée
Of the eight windmills established in the 16th century on the Mont des Alouettes, one of the highest peaks in the Vendée, two remain today, only one of which is in working order, true witnesses of the local milling tradition. Not far away, there is a chapel built in the neo-Gothic style, erected at the request of the Duchess of Angoulême, daughter of Louis XVI, who came on pilgrimage on September 18, 1823. An essential stopover if you take the departmental road 160, which connects Angers to Les Sables d’Olonne.
Vouvant, one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France
Nestled in the meander of the La Mère river, the medieval city of Vouvant, surrounded by ramparts, continues to be recognized for its charm: classified among the Most Beautiful Villages of France, it is also considered one of the favorite villages of the French, and also has the Small Cities of Character label.
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Two places deserve particular attention: the Notre-Dame de Vouvant church, one of the finest examples of Romanesque art in Bas-Poitevin, and the Mélusine tower, a 35-metre high 13th century tower, which offers a nice view of the village and the Bocage Vendée. The house of Mélusine, meanwhile, houses a museography on the legend of Mélusine, the fairy who would have given birth to the village.
The Vendée Corniche
From Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie to the Sion district of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, the Vendée Corniche designates three kilometers of wild rocky coast, which offer a pleasant walk or bike ride by the sea. you can observe the cave nicknamed “devil’s hole”, as well as the Five Pineaux, five isolated rocks facing the ocean, at the end of the cliffs of Sion.
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