10 Unique Experiences to Enjoy in Vendée in 2024



10 Unique Experiences to Enjoy in Vendée in 2024

With its gloriously long coastline and pretty islands, rolling pastures and charming villages, the Vendée offers a rich and varied array of experiences for holidaymakers. Here are some of the very best things to do and see in 2024.

1. The Great Outdoors

Explore the wide open spaces and natural sites that the Vendée has to offer, each as exceptional as the next. The island of Noirmoutier stands out with its famous Passage du Gois, a causeway that is submerged twice a day by the high tide. Then there’s the Payré estuary in Talmont-Saint-Hilaire, a natural sanctuary bursting with fauna and flora. Meanwhile, bird lovers will want to head to the Pointe d’Arçay, a glorious 935km² stretch of sand in L’Aiguillon-la-Presqu’île, which is the perfect place to observe birds in their natural habitat.  

The Passage du Gois leads to the island of Noirmoutier, ©Alexandre Lamoureux

2. Enchanted islands

The Vendée is endowed with two gorgeous islands, both rich in natural charms. Noirmoutier, which can be reached by car either via the bridge or the Passage du Gois, packs a huge variety of natural delights into its 25km by 15km: salt marshes, beaches, forests and quaint little streets, this island really has it all. The Île d’Yeu is just a 30-minute ferry ride away and once there, you can walk or cycle through the small streets with their pretty blue-shuttered white houses and make your way towards the wild coves. At just 23km², it’s the perfect size for discovering on two wheels or two feet! 

Noirmoutier boasts salt marshes, beaches and forests, ©Alexandre Lamoureux.

3. Maritime stopover in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is a seaside resort and fishing port known for its friendliness – and it’s the perfect place to taste sardines, a must-try local speciality. It is also an opportunity to discover the cannery, La Perle des Dieux, as well as the Sardine Workshop where you can learn more about the history of sardine fishing and its importance locally.  

Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is a seaside resort and fishing port known for its friendliness, ©Alexandre Lamoureux

4. Take a boat trip to the heart of the Marais Poitevin

With more than 800km of canals, the Regional Natural Park and Grand Site de France of the Marais Poitevin offers a true change of pace amidst scenery that is out of this world. The best way to explore these ancient marshlands – nicknamed Venise Verte – is by taking a boat trip along the canals which weave their way through the many islets. The Marais Poitevin is also endowed with a rich heritage with several Petites Cités de Caractère and historic abbeys.  

Exploring the Marais Poitevin by boat is a magical experience ©Julien Gazeau

5. Travel back in time through characterful villages

The Petites Cités de Caractère label promotes villages that have a remarkable heritage and well-preserved architecture. The Vendée has nine of them, each as authentic as the next and often closely linked to craftmanship. The latest places to receive this label are Noirmoutier and Mortagne-sur-Sèvre.  

Mouchamps is one of several Petites Cités de Caractère ©Alexandre Lamoureux

6. All aboard a traditional steam train

Step back in time with a ride on an old steam train from the 1900s. From Mortagne-sur-Sèvre to Les Herbiers, enjoy a unique experience while having lunch in the dining car. The three-hour itinerary will allow you to admire the rolling views of the bocage (the landscape of woodlands and pasture characteristic of this part of France) while enjoying a tasty meal of Vendée specialities. The Vendée Railway Association also offers a guided train ride during which you can learn more about the history of the bocage while admiring its green and hilly landscapes.

Travel from Mortagne-sur-Sèvre to Les Herbiers on a steam train from the 1900s ©Alexandre Lamoureux

7. Be wowed at the Puy du Fou

No trip to the Vendée would be complete without a visit to what is often referred to as the best theme park in the world. The Puy du Fou offers about 20 shows which are sure to please young and old alike. With horsemen, chariot races, musketeers and a breathtaking bird ballet featuring eagles, hawks, kites and owls, the park has plenty to surprise you throughout your visit.

Enjoy the spectacle of the Puy du Fou © Puy du Fou & Arthur Aumond

8. Château life

With their wooded parks, pristine gardens and sumptuous residences, the châteaux of the Vendée offer you the chance to experience a moment out of time. It is also an opportunity to taste the delicious, sophisticated cuisine at some of their restaurants, or you could even book to stay in one of these historic and luxurious settings.

Marvel at castles such as the Château de Terre-Neuve ©Alexandre Lamoureux

9. A walk in the Vendée vineyards

Home to the AOC Fiefs Vendéens appellation, the Vendée is a land of vineyards, and the local winemakers love welcoming visitors who wish to learn more about their wines – and taste them, of course! Discover the different production methods with, for example, biodynamics at Domaine Saint-Nicolas, which prides itself on an approach that respects the environment.  

Vignoble Mourat is among the many vineyards you can visit ©Simon Bourcier

10. Enjoy a Michelin-starred gourmet experience

The Vendée boasts no fewer than nine Michelin-starred chefs so foodies will be in dining heaven. From the coast to the bocage to the south of the Vendée, you will find Michelin-starred restaurants offering a unique taste experience. On the island of Noirmoutier, dine at La Marine, where chef Alexandre Couillon holds the maximum of three Michelin stars. In 2023, he was made a Knight of the Order of Merit, and his restaurant was named in the Top 3 of the Best Restaurants in the World by La Liste. 

Jean-Marc Pérochon in Bretignolles-sur-Mer is one of the Vendée’s Michelin-starred addresses ©Simon Bourcier

Lead photo credit : The Vendée is home to such treasures as the Marais Poitevin, ©Alexandre Lamoureux

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