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The Vendée department borders the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Loire Valley on the other, and is named after the lovely Vendée River that 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 is 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, (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.
What Not To Miss
- Puy du Fou (in the centre of the Vendee, between Cholet and La Roche sur Yon) is 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. Plus, their cinéscénie 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.
- The beautiful Eglise Saint-Philbert in Noirmoutier en L'Ile is well worth a visit, brimming with history and with a wonderful crypt that you must see!
- The whole family will love visiting Château de Talmont-Saint-Hilaire. Whilst the castle is now in a state of disrepair, there are a number of activities that take place in the grounds including jousting on horses, medieval games, medieval dress ups and crossbow shooting! Bring along a picnic and spend the entire afternoon here.
- Vendee Miniature model village in Bretignolles sur Mer is a splendid spot, showing typical life in the Vendée during the 19th century with an immense eye for detail. What's more, there are signs in English, so you can learn all about the region's rural life in bygone eras.
Our pick of the best places to stay in the Vendee range from a family friendly château hotel to a Michelin starred restaurant with rooms.
- The Château du Boisniard is a 26 room château turned hotel with a wonderful round turret and its own parklands. Inside you’ll find antique furniture but contemporary finishes, while outside as well as the gardens there’s a pool, tennis court and spa. You’ll also find a slick Michelin starred French restaurant and bar. The larger suites are ideal for families.
- Atlantic Hotel is a trendy beachside spot, offering chic rooms with a nautical theme to them and lovely sea views. You'll love meals from the Le Sloop restaurant, and you're in the ideal location to enjoy both the beach and the town's hotspots.
For a rural escape
- Le Manoir du Moulin is a five bedroom B&B in a 17th Century manor house. This is the perfect spot for those who daydream about rural France, with blue shutters and tiles, yellowstone walls, roll-top baths and plenty of country chic. They’re also big on organic produce, especially if it’s sourced from the local Friday morning market.
- Château de la Marronniere is a lovely 18th Century Château surrounded by its own 15 hectare park. There are just four B&B style rooms, with pretty wallpaper, fireplaces and large bathrooms. There are also several beautiful public rooms, an outdoor pool, library, playground and gardens.
- The Château de la Flocelliere is a glorious castle set within magnificent parklands. There are just three rooms and two suites, so you’ll feel you have the whole castle to yourself, along with a large salt-water swimming pool and the beautifully landscaped gardens. Inside you’ll find traditional elegance with toile de jouy wallpapers and pretty fabrics.
- Le Logis De La Clef De Bois is set in an 18th century stately home and boasts an intimate atmosphere, offering just four rooms. The accommodation oozes traditional charm with four poster beds, exposed wooden beams, tiled floors and antiques. Plus, there's even a swimming pool.
- Château de L'Abbaye de Moreille, a former Cistercian abbey, is perfect for romance. Its five rooms are classy and traditional, featuring period furnishings, draped beds and chandeliers - as well as there being private hot tubs. Enjoy Thai or French cuisine from the restaurant. A stunning spot.
- Hotel Thierry Drapeau is a seriously smart option close to Saint Sulpice Le Verdon. Rooms are contemporary, the restaurant holds two Michelin stars and you can even book cookery classes to impress your friends when you get home!
For a holiday villa or apartment
- If you think a self-catering option would best suit your needs then browse through the wide variety available with our partner, booking.com.
- You're best off visiting the Vendée in the summer, with July and August experiencing average temperatures of 20°C and this being the nicest time of year to go swimming.
- However, this is peak tourist season, so if you fancy visiting at a quieter time then late spring may be a good option - when the weather's still lovely but the crowds haven't yet arrived.
- Whilst the Vendée doesn't have its own international airport, you can easily fly to La Rochelle or Nantes Atlantique, both of which are located just outside the department.
- Ryanair offers flights to La Rochelle from Luton, Stansted and Dublin, whilst Easyjet goes from Gatwick, Birmingham and Bristol.
- From the airport to La Rochelle train station take bus number 7, (costing €1.30), and from there to La-Roche-sur-Yon, the department's capital, you can hop on a train which takes just under 2 hours and costs in the region of €15.
- If you're going to Nantes then Ryanair fly from Dublin, Easyjet from Gatwick and Liverpool, and Flybe from Manchester.
- From Nantes Airport, there's a shuttle bus service which takes you to the train station for €7. Once at the station, you can take a train to La-Roche-sur-Yon, lasting just under an hour and costing around €15-20.
- Alternatively, if you're coming from Edinburgh then you can always fly to Poitiers which is a few hours east of the Vendée. However, there's no shuttle service from the airport to the train station, so you'll need to take a cab which should cost about €8. Once at the station, there are a number of trains to La Vendée (with a ticket to La-Roche-sur-Yon costing roughly €20).
- For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Holiday Autos.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in the Vendée for you?
Best Hotels in Vendée
Le Logis de la Clef de Bois 4 rooms from $106Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendée
This peaceful 18th Century stately home boasts a fragrant flower garden. With exposed wooden beams and tiled floors it is awash with original features and antiques. Rooms are homely with four poster beds and en suite bathrooms decorated in warm tones. Enjoy the swimming pool and games room.Hideaway - An ideal property to escape with a good book.Sights nearby - Nieul AbbeyFull of characterSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorRecommended by - Sawdays
Chateau du Boisniard 26 rooms from $124Chambretaud, Vendée
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.Families - Larger suites are ideal for families, spa treatments for the adults, pool and tennis court for all the familyFoodies - Cookery classes at the hotel can specialise in molecular cooking, poultry, fish and sushiCooking classes - With Sébastien from the La Table du Boisniard gourmet restaurantGreat walks - Set within a 12 acre park
Atlantic Hotel 138 rooms from $125Les Sables-d'Olonne,, Vendée
A trendy beachside hotel including an indoor pool and spoiling spa. Interiors have a nautical theme with a retro twist, all feature private balconies and some, private hot-tubs. Le Sloop restaurant is a local favourite and boasts sea views and seafood dishes. Pets and children welcome!Beach Life - A perfect beach-chic property with a nautical theme and positioned right on Les Sables-d'Olonne coastline.Total relaxation - With an excellent spa, fine dining and fresh sea air - this property is meant for unwinding!Great walks - Start your day on the right note and head off for a walk along the Bay of Les Sables d’Olonne.Swimming Pool - Indoor pool
Hotel Thierry Drapeau 14 rooms from $126Vendée
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.Foodies - Two Michelin-starred restaurant, special bread making classes and focus on floral cuisineSights nearby - Four-minute drive from the centre of Saint-Sulpice-le-VerdonCooking classes - Spend a day alongside the Grand Chef Thierry DrapeauGreat walks - In Ponds Nature ParkRecommended by - Relais & Chateaux
Chateau de L'abbaye de Moreilles 5 rooms from $136Moreilles, Vendée
A former Cistercian abbey, turned homely and sophisticated hotel. Original features, such as draped beds and period furnishings transport you to another time. The pool, sauna and private hot tubs add a contemporary twist. Authentic Thai and French cuisine can be enjoyed in the lounge or dining room.Families - Ideal for families, with lots of board games, a pool and tonnes of space for outdoor activities.Hideaway - Surrounded by acres of lovely parklands, this is the perfect escape from city life.Sights nearby - The Aquarium and the Townhall cannot be missed at La Rochelle.Great walks - Explore the acres of parklands and beautiful private gardens.Recommended by - Sawdays
Chateau de la Marronniere 4 rooms from $137Vendée
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.Country Escape - Set within a large park, but close to town, enjoy cycling, walks and swimming after tea on the terraceGreat walks - Hiking trails for walks or morning jogging to the park gateSights nearby - Abbeys of Mazeilles and Neuil-sur-l’AutiseSecluded setting - For escaping.
Le Manoir du Moulin from $169Vendee, Vendée
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.Local markets - The village square of Ste. Hermine has a Friday morning marketFull of characterRomantic - Good for couples.Secluded setting - For escaping.Recommended by - I Escape
Chateau de la Flocelliere 3 rooms from $223La 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.Groups - Accommodation of outbuildings are located 8 km is ideal for a big group of people, though they are dormitories.Views - The castle is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of Upper Bocage Vendeen (hills, woods and meadows).Romantic Break - Stunning interiors and a magnificent setting.Garden - Beautifully landscaped gardens.Recommended by - Sawdays