Words by Lisa Hanley
The Western coast of Vendée, France consists of 140 km of beautiful coastline, filled with sandy beaches and a relaxing atmosphere. With the region offering up to 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, Vendée is a tourist hot spot for great weather.
As a French wine region, Vendée offers some of the best vineyard tours and bespoke wine growers in France, allowing tourists to emerge themselves into the wine culture. With ports producing restaurant favourites like mussels and oysters, Vendée offers some of the best seafood meals in France.
Boasting luxury nature reserves, vineyards and five-star villas, the region is a must see for those looking for a relaxing getaway. The region’s preserved historic heritage give it a mix of new and old-world France, making it stand out from other famous tourist destinations. Here are five reasons why a visit should be on the cards for you this year.
Known as the region for French wine, Vendée has created a name for itself for offering visitors some of the most renowned vineyards in France. From touring vineyards on horseback to tasting wines whose grapes are infused with the bitterness of sea salt from the coastal breeze, Vendée wine regions set themselves apart from the rest.
Wine regions such as Brem sur mer, Vix, Mareuil, Pissotte and Chantonnay offer wines grouped under the AOC wine Fiefs Vendéens label. From tours in some of their famous sellers led by wine growers who offer their knowledge on growing and harvesting, to tastings in vineyards with a unique animal farm to occupy children, there are various tours catering to the needs of families and for couples.
Vendée is home to the Vendée Globe – the greatest sailing race around the world. This has generated an enthusiastic sailing culture, which brings avid sailors and boaters from across the globe to gather at the coast.
The Atlantic coastline offers the best conditions for sailing, making it a particularly enjoyable affair for tourists. Sailing allows you to experience the relaxing atmosphere of the sea whilst allowing you the opportunity to catch a different view of the coast.
During my Vendée sailing experience, I got the chance to steer the boat along with our friendly skipper, who offered us a mini lesson in sailing as we explored the vast coastline.
When it comes to the best oysters in the world, France surely springs to mind. The French are the biggest consumers of oysters in Europe, with the country producing over 130,000 metric tonnes of Pacific oysters per year.
With various oyster farms around the Vendée coast open to the public, farm visits include insight about farming followed by a tasting session. Oysters have been farmed in the area since the 50s due to the abundance of marshes, which created favourable conditions for production.
Their highly reputed oysters are known to be refreshingly salty and have an authentic taste specialised to the Vendée. I visited the infamous Port du Bec, where I was welcomed by passionate farmers who shared with me their local traditions and farming techniques.
The infamous coastline is perfect for those looking for clean beaches, golden sands and glorious weather. Vendée has celebrated over a century of welcoming holidaymakers from around the world, offering a string of beachside resorts, restaurants and local attractions.
Bike riding and hiking
For the avid nature lover, why not hire out a bike and ride along some of the most beautiful cycling routes in the region? Allowing you to explore at your own pace, the 1,800 km of cycling paths and road cycling routes makes Vendée home to one of the largest cycling networks in France.
If biking doesn’t appeal, why not enjoy a hike in the Vendée Valley or take on the GR8 national long-distance footpath which offers a 221 km walk through small villages and forests of the region?
For more information on some more of the best tourism activities, tour guided and hiking/biking routes, visit vendee-tourism.co.uk