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Round our region – from beautiful beaches, to medieval castles and Vendee villages


Our department in the Pays de la Loire region is the Vendee. It is well known for its long, wide beaches and seaside landscapes. This is one of the features that makes the Vendee the most visited region by the French. Its coastline has 160 km of sandy beaches said to be relatively undiscovered and is one of the least explored, exploited and cleanest in France. We love the beach resort/harbour town of Les Sables d’Olonne (above left) as well as the quaint seaside villages of St Gilles Croix de Vie and St Jean de Monts and are to discover what others refer to as the best islands in France: Ile de Noirmoutier and Ile dYeu. Not only is Talmont Saint Hilaire a popular scenic coastal town, it also possesses an impressive 11th century Chateau de Talmont once owned by Richard the Lionheart (and William the Bald!).

The Vendee has a rich heritage of medieval fortresses, fortified villages, partly ruined towers and ramparts found along its coastline and hidden in its lush green scenery. The Chateau de Commequiers rampart remains (above centre) have preserved their feudal beauty long after Cardinal Richelieu destroyed the castle like many others in the region in the 17th century to prevent them falling into Protestant hands. The 12th century chateau in our village of Pouzauges was once owned by the Viscounts of Thouars who administered most of the Vendee. La dernière Thouars de cette branche épousera Gilles de Rais, dit "Barbe-Bleue".In the 15th century, Catherine of Thouars married (after being kidnapped by) the evil Gilles de Rais, who the fictional ‘Bluebeard’ character was based on. He commanded Joan of Arc’s army but as a barbaric husband he forced Catherine de Thouars to hide out with her daughter in her family’s Pouzauges castle. It and the Donjon de Chateaumur are two of the many Vendee castles the legendary fairy serpent Melusine is said to have cursed.

Many villages in the Vendee are characterised by their chateaux including Apremont and Vouvant (above right). Their other distinctive flattering characteristic is they are set high on hills next to peaceful rivers which meander through the nearby countryside. Vouvant is one of a number of Vendeen villages awarded the ‘small town of character’ label. Another is Mallievre which likes to show off its heritage as a craftsman’s village as well as its exposed stonework, coloured shutters and village squares. These are like most villages in the Vendee, preserving yesteryear charms but with modern spirit.


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