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Vendee Guide en Francais
Feudal castle at Commequiers
Port Joinville harbour, Ile d'Yeu
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General Information
When on holiday in a foreign country having information on local facilities and customs can save a lot of time and anguish, which in turn can make your stay all the more enjoyable. There is nothing more annoying than going to the shops only to find that they are closed due to unusual opening hours or public holidays, or having a similar experience when you need a doctor.
We have tried to put together a comprehensive list of the main items of information that could be useful to you while on holiday in the Vendée. Some of these items may be dealt with in more detail on other pages in which case we have linked directly to that page.

Holiday Insurance
Whats on in the Vendee
Motoring in the Vendee
Articles on the Vendee
History of the Vendee
Getting to the Vendee
Vendee Wine
Tourist Offices
Pets on Holiday
Emergencies. The following telephone numbers should you require assistance.

Ambulance...... 15
Sapour Pompiers(fire brigade)........ 18
Police 17
If calling from a mobile phone use the international 112 number if you are not connected to a local service, or you are having trouble explaining yourself in French.
In general in the Vendée all accident & emergencies are handled by the 18 number as the Sapeur Pompiers have trained paramedics, this is particularly relevant in the rural communities,

Medical. Click on the link for some suggestions as to what to do  before you go on holiday

Hospitals. There are 8 emergency hospitals in the Vendée as well as those at Nantes, Cholet, Niort and La Rochelle which may be nearer depending where you are.

The Hospitals in the Vendée are at:
Fontenay-le-Comte,11,rue Dr.R Laforge,(ZI Trois Cannons) Tel 02 51 53 51 53
Lucon. 41 Rue Henry Renaud. Tel.02 51 28 33 33
Challans. Tel.02 51 49 50 00
Les Sables D'Olonne. 75, Ave d'Aquitaine.Tel.02 51 32 05 77
Montaigu 54, Rue st.Jacques.Tel.02 51 45 40 00
La Roche -sur-Yon Les Oudaires
La Roche-sur-Yon Hopital-Sud. Tel.02 51 44 61 61
Ile d'Yeu. 17, Impasse Louis Rreymond. Tel 02 51 26 08 00

Doctors. Virtually every large village will have a doctor and there will be several in the towns. Most will speak some English and many prefer to talk in English as this lessens the risk of a error.
Doctors fall into 2 groups, those that charge the standard fee agreed nationally and those who charge more. The majority of doctors are in the first group, the second group often include specialists.
Although it is normal to get an appointment most will accept those who just turn up at the surgery. If it is not very urgent get an appointment, your local chemist (pharmacy) or Mairie will usually help.
You will be asked to pay a standard fee (22€-2009) which you can get a reimbursement of approx 60% (if you an
EU member).

. Visiting a dentist for emergency care while on holiday is similar to visiting a doctor, there are however fewer dentist and it may be necessary to ask at a Pharmacy for the nearest. The pharmacist should also be able to make an appointment for you with the Dentist.
Getting a reimbursement for the treatment is the same as for Doctors and Pharmacies

Hospitals. To call for assistance Telephone 15 Ambulance, 18 Sapour Pompiers(Road and major accidents) or if your on a mobile and neither of those above connects you use the 112 international emergency number, this is especially useful if you are in a remote place and not sure of your location.
Admission to hospital
This is for an adult who has to be admitted to a hospital the following applies.
After admission you will need to take the patient’s European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and passport to the Bureau des Entrées and register the patient, this is quite often done for you especially if you are on your own. Normally the EHIC covers 80 per cent of treatment, however there is a daily sejour charge of 16 euros plus things like telephone and TV. You will need private medical insurance to cover the remaining 20%, you will need to phone your company to see if you are covered for this. After you have been discharged, you, or your insurance company will receive a bill for these charges.
You will need to pay for the hospital charges, The Sejour, Tv, Telephone and meals when you are  discharged,this can be done by cheque or card.
In the event that you have lost your EHIC, or forgotten to bring it with you, you should contact The Department of Social Security, Pensions and Overseas Benefits Directorate, Newcastle upon Tyne, England NE98 1BA (00 44 191 218 7547) and they will fax a form to you.

Child. "Service Pediatrie"
In the unhappy event that a child needs to be admitted to hospital, the rules for registration of a patient are the same as are the reimbursements. The main difference is that a parent is usually given a bed alongside their child, although this is not always possible. You will either be provided with food or told where to get it, plus you will have shower facilities. The charge for this facility will be added to the bill which must be paid when discharged.

Getting to the Vendee. It has never been easier to get to the Vendée. The network of road and rail links will quickly connect you to both the ferries and airports. Although the Vendée does not have an international airport there are several within an hour or so, and depending on where you are staying there is possibly one within 30 minutes or less.  Read more....

Banks and Money. The currency in France is Euros.

Banking Hours. Generally Tuesday to Saturday 9.00 to 1.00 although some banks in major towns do open on Mondays. Post Offices, which are also banks use general shop opening hours although you will need to check as there are a lot of variations.

Getting Cash The easiest way to get cash is through cash machines using a card.  ATM are everywhere from supermarkets to banks. Note most banks in small rural locations do not carry any cash. They will have a cash machine inside, so you will not be able to cash traveller's cheques.
Traveller's Cheques. In general traveller's cheques are not accepted in shops and restaurants. The best rates of exchange are in the major Post Offices, though major town banks will also be able to cash them for you.
Credit Cards. This is the normal way to pay for goods and services in the Vendée. All major cards are accepted although it is worth noting that automatic petrol stations(24hr) will not except foreign cards, so you need to use a manually operated station. This is also the same for supermarket filling stations which have a card only section.

French Public holidays 2014
January 1st Jour de l'an (New Years Day)
April 20th Pâques (Easter Sunday)  Note they do not have a Good Friday
April 21st Easter Monday
May 1st Fête du Travail (Labour day)
May 8th Fête de la Victoire 1945 (marks the end of WWII)
May 29th l'Ascencion
May  8th la Pentecôte (Pentecost)
May 9th Whit Monday Pentecôte Lundi or day of Solidarity on this day people work for no pay.
July 14th Fête Nationale (Bastille day)
August 15th Assomption
November 1st La Toussaint (All Saints day)
November 11th Jour d'armistice (Armistice day)
December 25th Noel (Christmas day)
  Read more on public holidays in france

Shopping.  Most shops open from 9-00 or 9-15 although some non-food shops may not open until 10.00 or 10-15. Most are open until 7-00 with a break for lunch. This is usually from Monday to Saturdays although many non-food shops don't open on Monday mornings.
The major Supermarkets and Hypermarkets open from 9-00 to 7-00 Monday to Saturday without a break for lunch, smaller supermarkets and many food shops also open on Sunday mornings.
Bakers generally open earlier from 7.00 or 7.30am until 6.00pm. In the more rural areas most will shut for lunch and have a day off during the week, when usually another local shop will have a Depot Pain for those days but you will need to check locally for this information.
Markets. Visiting the colourful market has always been a passion for many holiday makers, and you can check out when and where on our markets page

Motoring. The following is a list of mandatory requirement for motorist. Failure to have these can result in an on the spot fine, usually starting from 90€.

Driving License
- It is compulsory to carry this when at all times when driving in France.

Car registration documents - It is compulsory to carry this when at all times when driving in France. 

Headlamp Adaptors - As UK vehicles are designed for driving on the left hand side of the road, headlamps that have not been adapted for driving in France will dazzle oncoming drivers. Failure to adapt your headlamps will render the vehicle UNFIT for the road. invalidating your motor insurance and could result in a spot fine.
GB Stickers - these are required by International Law to indicate Country of Registration.

Warning Triangles - You will need to carry 2 x warning triangles when driving in
France warning triangle must be placed 50 & 150 metres behind your vehicle to warn approaching traffic if your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident. Hazard warning lights alone are not sufficient.
Fluorescent Safety Vest - It is obligatory to carry these in your vehicle while driving in France, in fact the vest must be within reach so that if you have an accident or breakdown, you can get out of the car you were driving with it on.  Storing them in the boot of the car is not acceptable

Spare Bulbs - All car lamps, lenses and reflectors must be in working order at all times and failure to replace a broken bulb could result in a spot fine. It is therefore advisable to
always carry spares for all your car lights.
Spare Specs - Yes, a spare pair of glasses are required. If you have contact lenses you will need spares of them if you are going to be driving in France.

First Aid Kit - A First Aid kit must be carried in your vehicle at all times when driving in France.
Fire Extinguisher - Failure to render assistance in the event of a fire or take necessary precautions to prevent a fire from escalating is an offence
Insurance Policies - If the driver/owner of a vehicle fails to comply with the law and fails to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy for the country he intends to visit it could result in the insurance company repudiating liability under the Policy.
For a fuller guide go to driving in France which includes information such as  Priority a Droit, breakdowns, insurance, speed limits, parking and more.

Telephones. Most people now have mobile phones and so telephoning is not the problem it used to be, althoughr those that don't have a mobile and need to use a public service  will indeed need great patience. Call boxes are few and far between and are all card machines. Telephone cards can be bought from news-agents, Tobacs, and post offices they can be bought in several denominations but be wary they have a limited shelve life so won't keep untill next year if unused. Many will allow you to use your Visa or Mastercard but the calls are more expensive.

Mobile Phone. France operates on a GSM network so if you come from another EU country then your phone will be compatible. Most will recognise that you are in France so you will only need to dial the local number, however there are some that won't and with these you will need to phone as if you are calling from your home country with an international number starting 00+ country code. The calls are not cheap.
Alternatively you can either buy a SIM card for France, your phone will need to be unlocked and the cost for this if it is not already unlocked can be 20-30€. Unlike in the UK there is a limited life to the card regardless of whether you have used up the money, and an alternative could be to buy
a cheap mobile with pay as you go and top it up when you next visit France.

Internet The Vendée is well supplied with connections to the internet. Most hotels have the service available and there are numerous cafes that also offer internet facilities. Many of the Tourist information offices have computers you can use. The Vendée was the first Department in France to be completely covered by ADSL (broadband)  Read More...

WI FI.  The Vendée has 57 hotspots were you can get a connection to your laptop. Virtually every campsite and hotel and now many Gites have internet available for their clients, some like the hotspots are open and free.

Taxis; Finding a taxis while on holiday can sometimes be frustrating, On our page about taxis in the Vendee you will find listed most of the taxis companies listed by towns. See Taxis in the Vendee.

Sports and Activities. There are many sports and activities available including golf, fishing, sailing, walking, cycling an much more   see Activities

Entertainment. There are many kinds of entertainment in the Vendée which can be divided into Rural Cultural and Tourist Culture. There are theatres in la Roche-sur-Yon and Fontenay-le-Comte where the more classical types of entertainment are performed, most other events are not in theatres but are held in  Churches, Châteaux and other historic buildings or as in the case of Puy-du-Fou in several purpose built theatres arenas and halls etc within one complex.
Cinemas. The French like to go to the movies and most towns will have a cinema, with the bigger towns having multiscreens offering extended choice.
Television. Although most people don't go on holiday to watch TV, some do like to keep up with the news or their favourite soap. Many British run gites (now) have satellite TV (available) and many of the bars and cafes in the more touristy areas advertise when British sports are being shown.
Fêtes. Throughout the summer almost every village will have a fête, which are usually colourful events often with a theme. It is best to check locally for upcoming events as they are not always very well advertised. Some of the bigger regular fêtes are listed on our  whats on page.

Journees du Patrimoine. This literally means “Days of Inheritance” (and they) occurring on the third weekend in September. They are two days when many of the historic buildings open their doors to the general public, many are free or with reduced tariffs, many have special guided tours, and for many it is the only time that they are open to the public.    Read More...

Church Services For those who wish to attend church while on holiday there are a few things to remember. Most of the churches are Roman Catholic, there are a few protestant and other religions churches.
Services vary, the bigger churches in the main centres will have regular services but in the more rural areas it is often a rotary system with three or more villages sharing one priest, and the services rotating between the different village churches. Usually the times and dates are published on the church
notice board or you can enquire at the local Mairie..
There are Church services held in English, more details can be found on

Taking Pets on Holiday: More and more people want to bring their pets with them on holiday and there are an increasing numbers of holiday rental properties that will allow you to bring your pet with you, but you do need to have the required pet passport.
Read more....

Vendéen Wine. Besides the 4 main areas that produce wine under the Fiefs Vendéen label which has an AOVDQS certificate there are other areas that produce wine to the AOC standard and yet others that fall into the Vin de Pay category. Read More...
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