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The Coast and Islands of the Vendée
coast or "Le Littoral" as the French call it encompasses approximately
200 kilometres of coastline. About 140 kilometres of this are fine sandy beaches
which slope gently in to the Atlantic Ocean. The beautiful Vendéen
coast, the mild micro climate which produces one of the sunniest
climates in France and the clear blue Atlantic make the Vendee a
favourite holiday destination, not only for the French but for the
thousands who flock here each year from around the world. All along the
coast there are relaxing holiday resorts which cater for the needs of
the holiday maker, they have all the latest facilities and
entertainments that are essential for a great seaside holiday. The
Vendéen coast is however not just strewn with purpose built holiday
resorts, it is also a working coast and there are picturesque fishing
ports, full of life and interest, where all manner of fish are landed.
There are also many areas of shellfish farming and there are many ports
where mussels and oysters are brought in and it is possible to buy them
from the quayside. At low spring tides the causeway to Noirmoutier from
mainland France “Le Passage du Gois”
gives access to a huge area of sand allowing hundreds of cars to park
on the sands on either side of the causeway and thousands of people to
pick shellfish of all kinds. There are also modern marina ports and
quiet coastal communities, all offering different types of accommodation
and life styles.
In the Vendée the long stretches of sandy beaches, most of which are
awarded the blue flag for cleanliness, are invariably backed by large
sand dunes. These were planted in the 19th century with forests of pine
trees, although Holm Oaks were also planted. This planting has
stabilised the coastline and allowed its development.
The coast is not all sandy beaches, to the north along the coast of the Baie de Bourgneuf the Marais Breton
is guarded by a large stone digue (dike) outside of which are mudflats
the territory of birds and oyster farmers. The same is true in the south
where earthen Digues were built in the late 18th century; these protect
the Marais Poitevin
from Flooding. Elsewhere there are stretches of low cliffs with sandy
beaches and small coves especially from Sion-sur-l'Océan to the mouth of
the River Vie at St. Gilles Croix de Vie and from just south of Les
Sables d'Olonne to Le Rocher in the commune of Longville-sur-Mer.
Behind the dunes there are the areas of marshland which were drained by
the Benedictine monks in the Middle Ages. These wetlands now divide the
coastal zone from the Bocage and Plaine.
The Ile-de Noirmoutier,
at the very northern tip of the Vendée is the last remaining island of
the Marais Breton; it can be reached either by the bridge from
Fromentine to La Fosse or by the Passage du Gois a 4.5 kilometre
causeway that is passable only at low tide. This causeway starts at
Bellevue near Beauvoir-sur-Mer arriving at Barbatre and runs some 4
kilometres north of the bridge.
This low lying island, its highest point being just 13m above sea level,
has all the landscape characteristics of mainland Vendée with glorious
sandy beaches from South to the north on the western side and low rocky
cliffs with small sandy coves around the north and north east. The
island is nearly cut in two by the marshes and the south east has
The main industries of the island are; fishing, farming, salt production
and tourism. The island has a large fleet of modern boats working out
of l'Herbaudière, and the Noirmoutier early potatoes are renowned
throughout France. The production of Salt is declining in volume, but it
is still produced to the highest quality and is a staple all over
France. Tourism is also key to the island’s financial survival, with the
island boasting everything that the mainland coast has to offer but on a
smaller scale, In the summer season visitors flock here to take in the
sun and soak up the atmosphere that is as always so much a part of
The Ile d'Yeu.
Lying some ten miles off the coast from Notre dame de Monts is truly an
island with character. A picture postcard island of raw natural beauty,
populated by low whitewashed cottages with brightly painted shutters it
has pretty fishing ports nestling in amongst the dramatically rugged
cliffs. To reach the island you take the ferry from Fromentine which
runs all year round, or from St. Gilles croix de Vie during the summer
season, it is also possible to fly by helicopter from La Barre-de-Monts.
As with Ile-de-Noirmoutier the landscape is a microcosm of the
mainland, though the cliffs are taller and more dramatic, the marshes
are smaller as are the beaches that are nonetheless backed with pine
forests just like the mainland
The port of Joinville is the largest town on the island and is the
centre of the tourist trade, it also has a large and important fishing
harbour and a sizable marina. Virtually all the Hotels and restaurants
are located in or near the town as are the rental shops for bicycles and
Walking and cycling are the best ways to see this very attractive island
and the routes are well marked, there are guides and maps
available for these routes which take one through some of the most
breathtaking scenery in the Vendée.
The ideal prevailing winds, together with the sand and sunshine combine
to make the Vendéen coast the perfect venue for all manner of aquatic
sports. Whether you want to partake in; long board, short board, body
board or kite surfing you will find a place to suit your needs, If sailing
is your forte no matter whether it is simple leisure sailing or the
more strenuous and competitive genre you will find it available on the
Vendéen coast, For those who enjoy fishing all manner of sea fishing is
available from deep sea fishing to beach-casting.
Equipment for all sports is available for hire and you can get
professional advice and guidance from the numerous schools for different
sports all along the coast.
Aside from the nautical sports there are a plethora of other activities from karting to horse-riding, fitness circuits to beach sports, all are well catered for.
Looking after the inner self is always part of the Holiday and eating
out is exceptionally well catered for with every conceivable form of
eatery. As one would expect Restaurants specialising in locally caught
or produced seafood are plentiful, in particular the locally produced
moules (mussels) and Huîtres (oysters). If fish is not for you there are
Pizza restaurants and many other restaurants that cater for those who
prefer a more carnivorous menu.
Towns & Villages in the Coast
Beaches of the Vendee