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My Vendee Coast Holiday Review

Updated on October 21, 2016
Nathanville profile image

My interest in historic events, nature and wildlife is reflected in our choice of destinations when planning our holidays and day trips.

Sandy beaches of southern France
Sandy beaches of southern France

We Found the Vendee Coast a Delightful Holiday Destination

Packed With Lots of Gorgeous Hot Sunny Beaches and Great Tourist Attractions to Explore and Enjoy

Planning a holiday to France then the Vendee Coast is highly recommended with its soft sandy beaches, beautiful sunshine, great places to visit like Saint-Jean-de-Mont and the superb Theme Park, Puy du Fou.

To give a flavour of what's in store if you visit the area below is a brief over view of the area followed by a video of a day on the beach of Saint Jean de Mont which starts with a leisurely day on the beach of Saint Jean De Mont. With local entertainment from a band on the promenade in yellow tee-shirts and white trousers playing their music while families enjoy the sunshine and sea on the silky soft sand, bathing on a hot summer's day in the south of France. Then a stroll along the beach to admire the Puy Du Fou theme park sand statues - All to watch on the video.

Locations in the Vendee Featured in This Article

show route and directions
A markerSaint Jean De Mont -
camping plein sud saint jean de mont, 246 Notre Dame Street, 85160 Saint-Jean-de-Monts, France
get directions

Coastal tourist town

B markerSt Hilaire de Riez -
Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, France
get directions

Coastal tourist town

C markerSt Gilles Croix de vie -
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France
get directions

Coastal tourist town

D markerChallans -
Challans, France
get directions

Inland town that annually hold a themed historic event

E markerLe Grand Parc Puy Du Fou -
Puy du Fou, 85590 Les Epesses
get directions

Theme Park for the whole family; requires a two day visit to see it all properly.

F markerChateau de Commequiers -
Vieux Château de Commequiers, La Douve, 85220 Commequiers, France
get directions

Castle in ruins, not much to see but worth a short visit for an hour or two if it’s not beach weather.

Sand statue on beach at Saint-Jean-de-Monnt
Sand statue on beach at Saint-Jean-de-Monnt

Saint-Jean-de-Mont

Saint-Jean-de-Mont is located between Notre-Dame-de-Monts and Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez on the Vendee Coast with wonderful sandy beaches stretching about miles along the coast. The sand, as is typical for this part of France, being fine, soft and silky; the sea is always warm and the sky blue.

For entertainment as well as the lovely French shops and open air markets there are always plenty to see and do including visits to one of the local towns, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in particular, and not to be missed; great food, good shops and often open air evening events along the river bank running through the centre of the town. As well as a number of local chateaus (castles) in the area a trip to Noirmoutier to the see the Mini-village and Butterfly Farm makes for a good day out. In the evenings and on into the night, when it's much cooler dipping to 20C (68F) by midnight a number of local towns and villages put on public open-air entertainment often fireworks displays and Medieval Festivals. But the big must see has to be the Puy Du Fou theme park.

St Jean De Mont is one of our favourite beach destinations when we visit the Vendee, albeit not the only one. The great thing about this beach is that you have it all, sun, sea, sand, the beach isn’t overcrowded (although busy) and you’re close to all the shops and facilities when desired.

This video above is a scenic view of St Jean du Mont and its beaches on the Vendee Coast which I filmed on one of our visits in recent years.

Saint Jean De Mont Sunset
Saint Jean De Mont Sunset

Sun, Sun and More Sun on the Vendee Beaches

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St Hilaire De Riez

And Other Great Tourists Spots on the Vendee

Saint Jean de Mont is one of many local towns and villages in the Vendee with great beaches, St Hilaire de Riez is another with great open air French markets (where you can pick up plenty of bargains), great shops and restaurants. Also shown on this video is the ruins of Chateau de commequiers (French for castle); Chateau d'Apremont and the wonderful town of St Gilles Croix de Vie.

Fantastic Fireworks Display Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

This is a short video of the Fireworks Display in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, which I filmed from across the bay. As the video shows this is just one of the many great firework displays held in the Vendee each year.

St Gilles Croix De Vie

They Know How to Throw Great Evening Open Air Events

St Gilles Croix de vie is a must day visit in the Vendee for shops and restaurants and during the summer months great entertainment in the evenings such as the parade of the boats and fireworks displays on the banks of the river; all to music. One of the many locally advertised events so it pays to check what's on in the Vendee locality when visiting.

Town and River of St Gilles Croix de vie
Town and River of St Gilles Croix de vie

Great Fireworks Display on River Bank of St Gilles Croix De Vie

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Chateau De Commequiers

French Castle in Ruins but Great Place for Medieval Festivals

The Chateau de Commequiers may be a French Castle in ruins and not much to visit during the day although it is open to the public and entry is free, but it's a great backdrop for French open air Medieval Festivals and firework displays; something the French are very good at organising.

Whenever you're in France we always look out for local events such as medieval displays, open air plays and fireworks display; and true to nature the French combined all these three activities into one event. When we visited the day started with an all-day medieval festival, then after dark the night entertainment including dancers and fire eaters then finishing the evening with an open air French play followed at midnight with a fireworks display.

It was a long and enjoyable day, as vegetarians we couldn't participate in the medieval feast but we had our own sandwiches and other nibbles and hot coffee. We don't speak French but actions speak louder than words so as is typical of the French their plays are universally understood through their acting; and the fireworks display at midnight, when it was still 20 degrees Celsius (68F) just capped off the day.

Fete Medievale at Chateau de Commequiers

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French Open Air Medieval Festivals

The French are always good at putting on open air medieval festivals and throughout the summer months in the Vendee there’s a number of them in various towns and villages so when visiting the area we always lookout to see what local events are on during the week.

On this occasion we happened across a poster advertising an open air medieval show starting early in the evening and going onto midnight in a local Vendee village. So in our usual enthusiasm, after spending the day on the local gorgeous Vendee beaches, and after a quick meal, we headed for the village and for an evening of intrigue and mystery.

The open air medieval show, all in French (which we don’t understand) was an audience participation medieval detective mystery play in which you were kept guessing who the culprit was until the end. The audience all had to dress up in medieval costume (costumes were provided) and play along with the events once the play started; after a few hours of medieval entertainment and food. Being a vegetarian I’m not one for the food but I loved the mead.

The play took place in the dark, as many open air events do in the Vendee; the coolest part of the day, even at midnight it’s still above 20 degrees Celsius (68F). And rather than sit in one spot the audience had to follow the events from field to field in the dark; a play on a grand scale.

Although the French are good Actors and even if you don’t know the language you can follow the gist of the storyline and plot we were fortunate that a French woman who stayed close to us interpreted some of the main points filling in some of the gaps.

All in all it was a marvellous evening of events and entertainment. The only criticism was there was no lighting for the toilet block which was situated in a corner of the field near where the event started; so fumbling about in the dark when you needed to go was a challenge in itself.

Medieval Festivals in the Vendee
Medieval Festivals in the Vendee

French Open Air Medieval Mystery Play (Evening Play After Dark)

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Puy Du Fou Theme Park

Puy Du Fou is just over an hour's drive from the coastal villages in the Vendee and is a big must see. Puy Du Fou is a large amusement park, and to see it all, including all the shows (even moving at a fast pace) takes a couple of days; and in the evenings on certain days of the week in the summer months they run the Cinescenie (from 10pm to midnight), and open air show with 1000 actors and seating 13,000 spectators; a show that tells the history of Puy du Fou. However, because of it's popularity it is best to book well in advance as tickets tend to sell out almost as soon as they go on sale (on their website) at the beginning of the year.

The Grand Parc itself has a number of exhibits including the medieval village and Victorian era village with plenty of side-shows and other entertainment going on all over the park throughout the day. Also In the theme park there are several main features at regular intervals, usually lasting about 40 minutes each including the Gallo-Roman Stadium (Gladiators and chariot races), The Battle of the Keep (Medieval Battle) and The Vikings invasion of a French village, with a Viking Longboat spectacular.

Le Grand Parc du Puy du Fou

Of all the places we’ve visited in France on holiday Puy du Fou Theme Park is the most memorable, and in my opinion far more enjoyable than Disneyland Paris; which is saying something because Disneyland Paris itself is spectacular and well worth a visit. The difference being that you can spend a day at Disneyland Paris packed with fun and thrills but to fully see and fully enjoy all the events at Puy du Fou you really need two days.

You can pack a lot into one day, which is what we did on our first visit, but we returned a couple of years later to spend two days at Puy du Pou so that we could see everything and fully enjoy it all; even then it was still a bit of a rush at the end and we had to skip the indoor water show, which we’d seen on our first visit.

Puy du Fou Events (Medieval, Roman and Viking Open Air Shows)

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Challans 1910

Challans we happened to stumble across one year when they were doing a 100 Year Theme. The roads leading into to the town were all blocked to traffic and all the local residents dressed up in Edwardian costume for the day and put on a wide range of activities throughout the whole town that reflected life as it was a century ago.

Bygone Years

Recreation of Urban France 1910

We were so impressed with the display put on by the town folks that it seemed befitting for me to convert the film in post-production to an old black and white style befitting of the nostalgic theme; the original colour film is shown above.

Mediterranean Style Weather on the Vendee Coast

Hot and Sunny

The Vendee, halfway down France and on the Atlantic Coast, is a significantly large area not far south of Nantes, Brittany (less than an hour's drive) but it's far enough south to pick up the beginnings of the Mediterranean weather so its summers are almost guaranteed to be perfect sunshine with temperatures topping 30C and sometimes touching 35 degrees Celsius (95F).

Not only is the weather good but the beaches, and there are plenty of them, are most wonderful with its fine soft sand and warm sea water ideal for bathing.

So with this setting sit back and watch a on the beach at Saint-Jean-de-Mont.

Vendee Coast
Vendee Coast

La Belle France DVD

La Belle France which means Beautiful France. I totally agree, a most beautiful country which I have toured many times on holiday, visiting Normandy, Paris and the Vendee; the Vendee including our day trip to Norimoutier which is a small island off the coast of the Vendee packed with tourist attractions, not only the town itself on the island but also the aquarium, butterfly farm and a breath taking mini village; and most memorable of all our two day trip to the most wonderful Puy du Fou theme park in the Vendee. This musical DVD has it all.

La Belle France Normandy, Paris, Vendee, Poitou, Provence
La Belle France Normandy, Paris, Vendee, Poitou, Provence

A most wonderful musical tour guide of France on DVD, filmed while on an annual musical tour this DVD features five regions of France, Normandy, Paris, Vendee, Poitou, and Provence. The Normandy visit, Northern France visits its famous beaches, the monasteries and the two-headed cow. The sights of Paris, the capital of France include the famous Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, the Metro, the Seine and the Louvre. The Vendee on the Atlantic coast, the ruins of old chateaus which is French for castle, a chateau with an American connection, canals, the Isle of Noirmoutier and the famous theme park, Puy du Fou. In Poitou the video shows the Valley of the Frescoes, Medieval chateaux, music and jousting; and finally, the Provence, home to Roman monuments, where Van Gogh did his most productive work, Lipizzan horses, running of the Sheep at St. Remy, the Tour de France, a boat ride through Marseilles harbour, and a country music festival.

 

The War of the Vendee 1793-1796

History of the Vendee

During the French Revolution of 1789-1799 the Vendee along with Brittany were in fierce opposition to the Revolution, sparking the War of the Vendee from 1793 to 1796. These historic events are accurately portrayed in the selection of historical novel books below; great read books written by great authors of their time.

No Surrender! - A Tale of the Rising in La Vendee
No Surrender! - A Tale of the Rising in La Vendee

This book is a reprint of the original story by the famous English novelist George Alfred Henty 1832-1902 who was good at fictionalising historic events, in this case a novel that portrays quite well how the Vendee stood out against the French Revolution, adding insight, perspective and flesh to this part of French history.

 
The War in La Vendée and th Little Chouanerrie
The War in La Vendée and th Little Chouanerrie

The War of the Vendee 1793-1796 was a Royalist rebellion during the French Revolution which was fiercely opposed in the west of France by a peasant army in both Brittany and the Vendee. This book portrays these historic events in the history of the uprising in the Vendee led by the self-styled Catholic and Royal Army who had close ties to the Chouannerie.

 

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    • Nathanville profile image
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      Arthur Russ 6 months ago from England

      Thanks to all for your feedback, if you ever get a chance to visit France, it's a great place rich in culture and we find the people (especially in southern France) very friendly. A surprising number of French people we meet on our holidays like to show off how good their English is.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 4 years ago

      I've never been to France, but would love to go. Looks like there's a lot to see and do here.

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      Gail47 5 years ago

      Never been there and probably never will - but I think it would have been a great experience.

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      I haven't visited France, but I would love to, it looks like a great place to visit.