The Vendée on the Atlantic coast of France is a great location for a family camping holiday with miles and miles of sandy beaches, marked footpaths and cycle tracks.But there are also some lovely historical sites to visit in the area, here are a few of our favourites:
The Abbey of Nieul sur l’Autise or Saint Vincent as it’s also known, was founded in 1068, and was granted royal status by Eleanor of Aquitaine (then Queen of France and mother of Richard I of England). The abbey is one of the few remaining monastic churches which still contain a church, cloisters and monastic buildings almost intact, and it houses the only remaining Romanesque quarter in France. During the high season months of July and August there are tours in period costume for children and music events every Friday.
The Saint Pierre Abbey of Maillezais is a Benedictine abbey and former burial place of the dukes of Aquitaine. It was built on an island in the Golfe de Pictons in 1003. It became common for artists and writers to retreat to this abbey, and the likes of Francois Rabelais were known to seek solitude within its walls. Although extensively damaged in the 16th century Wars of Religion the main body of the abbey is still standing, and you can also see the convent buildings comprising of refectories, a cellar, kitchen and salt store. During the summer months there are a variety of musical and cultural events held at the abbey.
The Logis de la Chabotterie is a beautiful typical Vendée stone manor house at Saint Sulpice le Verdon. As the scene of the arrest of General Charette in 1796, marking the end of the War in the Vendée, the house has earned its place in the history books. There are 9 historic rooms furnished as they would have been in the late 18th century (pre-Revolution!), historical formal gardens and displays. During the summer months the manor house hosts a number of musical events and festivals and tours in period costume for children.
Situated in Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne, The Historial de la Vendée is a state of the art museum telling the history of the Vendée, from Prehistoric to modern times. The distinctive grass roofed museum houses over 3000 collectibles and also has a children’s musuem.Don’t miss the helicopter ride in the Antiquities section! And as under 18s have free entry this is a great choice for an interesting and fun family day out.
The chateau at Tiffauges, or as it’s more commonly known Bluebeard’s Castle, is a 3 hectare estate located in a strategic hilltop position above the Crume River. Bluebeard was actually the notorious Gilles de Rais, a soldier and one time acquaintance of Joan of Arc. After military service he returned to the castle where he abandoned religion and took up sorcery, witchcraft and alchemy. He was eventually found guilty of the murders of large numbers of children and sentenced to death in 1440. The castle now houses an interesting collection of medieval weaponry and memorabilia relating to Bluebeard. They also host a number of spectacles and period reenactments.
Here are a few links for more information on the Vendée area:
- http://www.the-vendee.co.uk/fullcal.htm – this is a link to Angela Bird’s website with a great calendar of events for the Vendée
- and this is her potted history of the area
- Here’s a good list of other historical attractions
- and of course there’s the famous Puy du Fou themepark that we mentioned in our previous blogpost
If you’d like to visit some of the Vendée’s famous historical attractions, Canvas Holidays have a good choice of campsites in the Vendée. Use our interactive campsite finder to narrow down your choice.