With more than 150 early booking offers (information at the end of the article), now's the time to make the most of Vendée!
1/ Fishing and feasting
One of the loveliest – and most delicious – ways to explore the Vendée coast is with sea fishing. Take a half- or full-day excursion on a boat or canoe from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Les Sables-d’Olonne or Brétignolles-sur-Mer. Sample the famous sardines of Saint-Gilles, one of the area’s top products, fished until the autumn and even better paired with a glass of Fiefs Vendéens wine. At the fishermen’s huts at Port de la Guittière in Talmont-St-Hilaire, Atlantic oysters are the stars of the show.
Find out more about coastal resorts and sea ports in Vendée
2/ Coastline cycling
Vendée boasts 200km of seaside cycle routes – and the Vélodyssée, linking Bouin with L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer, is a great way to soak up the sea air from dry land. Composed almost entirely of dedicated cycle paths, it’s great for families as well as pro cycling fans. Look out for ‘Accueil Vélo’ campsites along the way, such as Les Dunes at Talmont-St-Hilaire, where bike storage shelters are available and repairs can be carried out. It’s little details like this that make cycling in Vendée extra enjoyable!
Find out more about cycling in Vendée
Seeking an adrenaline rush? Try kitesurfing on the Passage du Gois, a unique tidal causeway connecting the island of Noirmoutier with the mainland at low tide. The sport has really taken off (pun intended) in Vendée and other resorts offer it too: St-Jean-de-Monts, Brétignolles-sur-Mer and La Faute-sur-Mer. Fromentine’s Grande Cote beach is another renowned spot – at low tide, the beach has a perfectly flat pool area where kitesurfers can practise their turns.
Find out more about water sports activities in Vendée
4/ Glide through ‘Green Venice’
Vendée is also home to part of France’s second largest wetland, the Marais Poitevin, nicknamed the ‘Venise Verte’. Take a tour of this peaceful environment on a traditional flat-bottomed boat, admiring the natural tunnels formed by the trees, with ducks and deer for company. A guide will explain the history and traditions of the marshes and point out architectural gems such as the sumptuous Maillezais Abbey. You can set off on a paddleboard from La Tranche-sur-Mer, too.
Find out more about the Marais Poitevin in Vendée
5/ Watery wonder and special effects at Puy du Fou
Three-times voted the World’s Best Theme Park, Puy du Fou is in fact much more than a typical theme park – it’s a wacky wonderland of historical reenactments, taking its millions of annual visitors back in time with its incredible shows. Amongst its seven major performances, the nighttime Cinéscénie® is a blockbuster of special effects including projections onto a water wall – and newer addition Les Noces de Feu is a musical extravaganza of water and fire. Choose from a wide range of on-site hotels and restaurants to enhance the experience!
Find out more about Puy du Fou
6/ See off the skippers
Considered the ‘Everest of the seas’, the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo sailing race is the ultimate test in sailing. The skippers signed up to face this gruelling physical and mental challenge depart on their monohulls from Les Sables-d’Olonne every four years, covering just over 21,000 nautical miles over three months. Head to the race village to soak up the buzzing atmosphere and perhaps catch a glimpse of the likes of Alex Thompson and Pip Hare. The next race departs on 10 November 2024.
If you can’t wait that long, experience the Vendée Arctique – preparatory race for the Globe – from 4-26 June 2022. Admire the IMOCA boats moored in port from 4-12 June, attend live interviews with the skippers and take part in a wide range of activities up until the finish and closing ceremony on 26 June.
Find out more about Vendée Globe
7/ Riverside mountain biking
Away from the coast in Vendée’s densely wooded area known as the bocage, you can take mountain bikes along the River Sèvre Nantaise. The riverbanks are an ideal terrain for mountain biking thanks to their irregularity – it’s quite an adventure exploring the verdant landscape this way, following the natural curves of the river. The valley can also be explored on foot or on horseback – whichever way you choose, you’ll be fully immersed in nature.
Find out more about bike riding in Vendée
8/ Watermill culture
Over the centuries, Vendée has harnessed the power of its rivers and streams to drive watermills for crafts such as paper making, tanning, cloth and wool weaving – and many of them can be visited or stayed in today. La Maison de la Rivière at Montaigu-Vendée puts on unusual al-fresco exhibitions: rent a boat on site and admire the art as you drift along the river. For a quirky overnight, book into the Vallee de la Roche at Tiffauges , converted into a luxury two-bedroom cottage with waterside terrace and outdoor spa.
9/ Exhilarating beach gallops
Long to gallop along a beach? You’ll feel like you’re in a film in St-Jean-de-Monts, where you can tack up and head out across the golden sand with the wind in your hair. Vendée offers numerous equestrian trekking options in varying landscapes from forests to beaches, accessible to all levels – novice and experienced riders alike. Treks can be for anything from a couple of hours to two half days with an overnight stop, which is best for a proper exploration of the surroundings.
Find out more about equestrian activities in Vendée
10/ Make a splash
In addition to kitesurfing, Vendée offers a wealth of other high-octane activities on the water – just head to Atlantic Wake Park in L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer for an introduction. Suitable for kids aged six and up, there’s wakeboarding, wakeskating and water skiing in a fabulous fun environment, supervised by qualified instructors. Another star is O’Fun Park, half an hour from La Roche-sur-Yon, with its exhilarating Water Jump: slide down the ski-style ramps on a float or body surf along the different lanes, before plunging into the pool at the bottom! At Water Fun Park’s large south-facing beach in La Tranche-sur-Mer, you can have fun on the waves with towed buoys, banana boats and flyfish, and mess around on paddleboards, kayaks and pedalos.
Find out more about family-friendly activities in Vendée