The Vendée department borders the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Loire Valley on the other, and is named for the lovely Vendée river which runs though the region. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, but possibly best known for its numerous historic revolts and uprisings, so there’s a historic edge to the department’s serenity. The best places to stay in the Vendée tend to be charming châteaux or guesthouses in smaller towns, rather than the larger centres.
One of the main attractions of the Vendée are the department’s beaches, all 200kms worth of them, most of them sandy. A number of beaches have blue flags, and there are a number of seaside resorts, including Les Sables-d’Olonne and Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Many beaches are fringed by sand dunes or pine woods, and there’s a gentle roll in from the Atlantic to the land, rather than dramatic cliffs or rock formations. There’s a great bicycle route along one section of coastline, passing beside the marshes and mudflats, which are home to a number of interesting bird species, and there are cycling and walking routes running all over the region.
Just inland you’ll find the Marais Poitevin, which is a marshland and forest national park near the village of Mervent. This is a very popular spot with wildlife lovers.
The Vendée also has a number of significant churches, abbeys and museums. And is home to Puy du Fou a historic theme park which has several spectacular special effects shows including a Viking show in which a reconstructed 1000 year old fortress is attacked by a Viking Longship, and the Cinéscénie, which tells the story of 700 years worth of the region’s history, using a cast of thousands of actors, hundreds of horses and around 400 fireworks per performance.
Our pick of the best places to stay in the Vendee range from a family friendly chateau hotel to a Michelin starred restaurant with rooms.
A unique Five Star hotel set within parklands. Rooms are charming, with antique furniture but contemporary finishes. Outdoor pool, gardens, tennis court and spa to relax in. Superb French cuisine and slick bar area. Luxurious, different and a great family choice.
Contemporary hotel in the countryside by Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon. Chic rooms, some with psychedelic colours, all with garden views and big bathrooms. Spa, hot tub, vegetable garden and outside terrace are at your disposal. Gourmet cuisine in the Michelin-starred restaurant. An absolute delight.
Lovely 18th century chateau in 15-hectare park. Unique rooms are elegant with pretty wallpapers, large bathrooms and fireplaces, with garden views. Beautiful sitting and dining rooms. Outdoor pool, library, children's playground and gardens. A romantic country stay.
This 17th century manor house is a French dream: yellowstone walls, pastel blue shutters and hung tiles. Rooms are decorated in a French country style with feature roll top baths. Perfect for foodies and families with organic produce (and several vineyards closeby) plus a list of activities.
La Flocellière, Vendée
A glorious castle in magnificent surroundings of landscaped parklands. Large stunning rooms and suites, all in traditional elegance with toile de jouy wallpapers and pretty fabrics. Large salt water swimming pool, occasional tables d'hotes, and plenty to do in the surroundings.