10 Reasons to Visit the Pays de Saint Jean de Monts

 

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10 Reasons to Visit the Pays de Saint Jean de Monts

Located on the Vendée coast just south west of Nantes, Saint Jean de Monts is a sunny seaside resort known for its picturesque pier jutting out into the Atlantic. The gateway to Vendée’s islands, Noirmoutier and Ile d’Yeu, it should be on your bucketlist for your next holiday destination. Here are 10 reasons why. 

1. Fine sandy beaches among the sunniest on the French Atlantic coast  

Enjoy peace and quiet on the 22 beaches of the Pays de Saint Jean de Monts. Gently sloping and free of rocks, this coastline is perfect for families, whether you choose quiet or lively beaches, and even at high tide you will still find sand to settle on. Bracelets with parents’ contact number are given to children on request at the lifeguard stations on the supervised beaches and at the tourist offices. And an added boon – all beach car parks are free. 

sandy beach in Vendée France

Saint Jean de Monts’ gorgeous sandy beaches © A Lamoureux

2. Hidden treasures to uncover at low tide  

Experience the French way of life by discovering shore fishing and the local recipes associated with it: pignons, a type of clam, mussels, oysters and more. Find out the history behind the recipes at Le Pont d’Yeu, Les 4 Aces, or on the pier.

pier at a seaside resort on the French Atlantic coast

The Pont d’Yeu © Florian Peroud

3. An authentic seaside atmosphere, day and night 

Stroll along the Avenue de la mer by night after a spectacular sunset ride on the Ferris wheel that stands on the pier. Perch at one of the beach bars and sip your apéro as you watch the sun go down. In the daytime, go on exciting treasure hunts, escape games and other fun walks to discover the area as a family.

In the summer, festivals, street concerts and other events pepper the cultural calendar. Look out for À Tout Vent, the renowned giant kite festival, from June 28 to 30; La Déferlante d’Eté festival of street entertainment and music in July and August; the Finale Grand Prix Triathlon on September 14 & 15; and Caval’Océane equestrian competition on the beach on September 21 & 22.  

outdoor activities tree climbing zipline

The Saint Jean de Monts pier © A Lamoureux

4. Outdoor sports galore 

Wide open spaces are perfect for nautical activities such as sand yachting or kite surfing, and in all seasons too. Breathe in the fresh air under the cover of the forests along marked trails, whether you prefer horseback riding, cycling (along the Velodyssée), trail running, Nordic walking, hiking, mountain biking or orienteering. Explora Parc offers a multitude of activities: tree climbing, laser tag, archery tag, net course, virtual reality…

End the day with a drink under the canopy at the bar and in the summer, take in an evening concert. The golf course at Saint Jean de Monts, voted seventh favourite golf course of the French, is open all year round with breathtaking sea views. Whatever your interests, you will find an activity to enjoy here. 

Fun in the forest in Exploraparc near St Jean de Monts

5. The food: taste your way through Vendée 

An ideal way to enjoy the local produce and meet the producers is at the many daily markets. Look out for brioche, préfou, Challans poultry, local cheese, organic honey, melon and strawberries, Maraîchine beef, Vendée ham… Tour the oyster huts of Fromentine in the bay of Bourgneuf, enjoy a chocolate tasting at 20° Nord 20° Sud chocolate factory and tuck into the famous local dessert, the Fion. Don’t forget the local beer La Petite Ramonière, in the heart of the Vendée Breton marsh, and find out about the many health benefits of the Spirulina algae.   

oysters on the beach

Fresh oysters for dinner in Saint Jean de Monts ©Florian Peroud

6. Spectacular viewpoints 

Take in the far-reaching views on a walk that leads you from the lighthouse to the Pey de la Blet (renovated in 2023), where you can climb the 184 steps to the 37m belvedere. Or Climb up Kulmino, a 70m high water tower offering sweeping views of the marshes, the dunes and the forest. A cycling loop will take you there safely via the Velodyssée and the Vendée bike trails. 

 

goat in the marshes

Pey de la Blet © Florian Peroud

7. The preserved farming culture in the hinterland 

There’s nothing like a visit to the Daviaud farm to immerse yourself in the culture of the Marais Breton Vendéen. Discover ancient breeds, traditional habitat and yesteryear techniques, explore the salt marshes, the bird observatory, and enjoy a ride on an unusual boat, called La Yole. An audio guide in English is available to accompany your visit at your own pace.  

glamping holiday accommodation

The Daviaud eco museum © Florian Peroud

8. A wide choice of accommodation 

Campsites, hotels, holiday homes, by the sea or in the marshes whatever your budget and taste, there is something to suit everyone, from families to friends to couples. And a whole host of professionals are on hand to help you find your perfect accommodation.

birds-eye view of French Atlantic coast and Noirmoutier

Saint Jean de Monts is just south of Noirmoutier ©Emmanuelle Marcade

9. The gateway to the two Vendée islands 

Pop in to the tourist office to organise your excursion to the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier. A little air of Brittany blows on the island of Yeu while Noirmoutier will take you on a culinary trip full of flavours.  

cycling on a seaside pier

The picturesque Noirmoutier bridge © A Lamoureux

10. A welcoming community 

If you wish, a welcoming and helpful group of English-speaking expats are on hand to help with the language barrier, thanks to the English Speaking Community Group, set up by the Tourist Office and Pays de Saint Jean de Monts’ lively expat community.  

Lead photo credit : Explore Saint Jean de Monts in Vendée ©alamoureux

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