If you’re happy to drive as far as Southern Brittany, why not venture that little bit further and seek out the delights of the Vendée, with its rolling countryside and numerous blue flag beaches? In Southern Vendée, in particular, you can easily expect to enjoy as much as nine hours of daily sunshine in July.
Renowned for kilometre after kilometre of glorious sandy beaches (there are around 140km of beaches in total) and beautiful, fragrant forests that stretch along the coastline from St Jean-de-Monts to La Tranche-sur-Mer, the Vendée simply has to be the perfect choice for a family beach holiday. Add a rustic, old-world charm and all that lush green countryside and the Vendée could well become a destination you return to time and time again.
Still predominantly an agricultural area, the Vendée also relies on the Atlantic Ocean for much of its livelihood and you will find many fishing ports both on the coast and on the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier during your travels.
If you are planning to explore the Northern Vendée during your Keycamp holiday, be certain to put the peaceful resort of lle-de-Noirmoutier and the ruined castle by Apremont Lake on your ‘must visit’ list. While for those holidaying with children or teenagers, a day soaking up the chutes and thrills of the Atlantic Toboggan Waterpark at St Hilaire-de-Riez is a holiday essential.
Stretching almost as far south as La Rochelle, Southern Vendée includes the bustling seaside resorts of Les Sables d’Olonne and La Tranche-sur-Mer. Sand yachting is a passion in these parts and the wide, flat sandy beaches are also popular for speed sailing (the standing-up version).
The rock pools of Jard-sur-Mer and St Vincent-sur-Jard are popular with younger visitors. And, if you fancy an afternoon surfing, head over to La Côte Sauvage or Les Sables.
Dotted across the countryside, the charming whitewashed thatched cottages (known as ‘bourrines’), plus numerous watermills and windmills, provide a highly picturesque reminder of the rural origins of the area.
Once an early monastic settlement, Ile-de-Noirmoutier is now a stylish tourist resort. Proudly holding on to its past, however, the island’s salt marshes are still worked, potatoes are grown and there is a thriving fishing industry.
The island can be reached from the mainland by a bridge from Fromentine, or by a causeway at low tide. Be sure to explore the lovely unspoilt beaches. But for a taste of the old Vendée, visit the château and 7th Century monastery ruins. With its huge swimming pools, chutes, picnic areas and sunbathing beaches, the Océanile Waterpark is a great day out for families.
This modern resort with its bustling promenade really does offer something for everyone and is particularly ideal for those seeking a lively family holiday. The beach is vast. Fascinating trails and bike tracks make it easy to explore the sand dunes, woodlands and the salt marshes. Horse riding, golf and sand yachting are available locally and the town has an excellent aquatic centre. On Saturday mornings there is a local market in the town square.
Reached by ferry from Fromentine or St Gilles Croix-de-Vie, Ile-d’Yeu measures just 23 square kilometres and is the place for lovers of long sandy beaches, peaceful dunes, impressive granite cliffs and hidden sandy coves. If you have the time, take one of the many cycle tours (bike hire available locally), or don your walking boots and enjoy a leisurely stroll. The 14th Century castle and old lighthouse are particularly worth visiting. Plus for fresh fish and lobster, call in at the bustling fishing port.
Fancy an alternative to a day on the coast? Then the peaceful setting of Apremont Lake provides the perfect spot for a day’s angling. The lake is well-stocked with carp and boats can be hired locally. If fishing’s not your thing, head for the castle ruins, laze on the grassy banks of the lake, enjoy a picnic, or perhaps windsurf or swim.
Located between St Jean-de-Monts and Les Sables-d’Olonne, this colourful little port is known for its sardine fishing. Along the promenade, which is traffic-free, there are many wonderful restaurants where you can try the fresh local seafood. Sea fishing trips can be booked along the quayside and there are three-and-a-half-kilometres of sandy beaches – just perfect for families. During your visit, seek out the pretty fisherman’s cottages located between the port and the shops. If there’s time left during the day, also take the drive over to Devil’s Hole (Le Trou de Diable), but try to plan your visit for high tide to see Devil’s Hole at its best!
This modern seaside resort has a magnificent sandy beach and narrow cobbled streets packed with colourful restaurants and shops. The resort is also the main yachting harbour in the Vendee and one of the most important commercial ports on the Atlantic. The main beach, the Grande Plage des Sables-d'Olonne, is south-facing and about 2 miles long. It is popular for dinghy sailing and sailboarding. Evenings in Les Sables-d’Olonne are particularly lively.
With its Blue Flag beach of fine white sand at Plage du Veillon, Talmont St Hilaire is a lovely holiday destination. This peaceful resort, however, has so much more to offer, with a medieval ruined castle, pretty marina and a motor museum with over one hundred vintage and classic cars on display. There’s a local sailing school too. Surfing classes, sea fishing and boat trips are also available. If you prefer to stay on terra-firma, this is also a good spot for walking, cycling and horse riding.
This picturesque little town is clustered around the abbey of Notre-Dame de Lieu-Dieu, founded by Richard the Lion Heart. There is a traditional market (the choice of seafood is particularly good) and a modern yacht marina. Younger visitors will love exploring the seven kilometres of sand dunes and coastline, not-to-mention the forested area with its protected eco-system.
An attractive holiday resort, La Tranche-sur-Mer boasts the longest south-facing beach on the Vendée. (There are 13 kilometres of sand in total, with approximately 8 kilometres of beach facing due south.) A Mecca for windsurfing and sailing enthusiasts, the resort has also gained popularity with those wanting to try their hand at watersports. While the many cycle tracks and walkways make it easy for visitors of all ages to explore the beaches, woodland and marshes. During the summertime festival of Déferlante, the resort comes alive with street theatre, live music, and children’s entertainment.
South of La Roche-sur-Yon, the region’s capital, is the Marais Poitevin Regional Park. This park is also known as the Venise Vert or ‘Green Venice’ and is believed to be the largest marsh area on the Atlantic coast. With mile after mile of beautiful marshes and a fascinating network of canals surrounded by woods, it’s hardly surprising to learn that the main mode of transport here was once the ‘yole’, a type of punt. The area is best explored by boat - usually 'barques', flat-bottomed boats. Dinghy and canoe trips are also popular.
An interesting island with long, sandy beaches and a nature reserve. The fortified port of St Martin-de-Ré has ancient, narrow streets, lined with restaurants where you can sample the local oysters.
This ruined Renaissance château forms the perfect setting for spectacular son et lumière performances during the summer. These are held within the 18th Century village, that is also part of a popular theme park, with picturesque botanical gardens. Le Puy du Fou is about two hours’ drive inland but a visit is highly recommended.
Just outside Poitiers. See the most advanced cinema techniques from 3D to 360° screens.
An exciting waterpark with chutes and slides at St Hilaire-de-Riez, and a great day out.
A popular zoo for a family day out.
You can learn to ride at the stables at St Jean-de-Monts, or enjoy a guided excursion.
Take advantage of the sailing opportunities featuring kayaking, dinghy sailing, catamaran, windsurfing, kite surfing and sand yachting.
A great introduction to a range of watersports in a safe environment with qualified instructors leading sessions based on experience, so there’s something for everyone. And there’s a 15% discount for all Keycamp customers (details and vouchers available from your couriers in resort).
Just a five minute drive from: VN014 La Yole, VN011 Le Clarys Plage, VN024 Les Genets, VN017 Les Ecureuils and VN016 Sol a Gogo.
You simply can’t visit the Vendée, without visiting its capital. La Roche-sur-Yon has a wide range of excellent shops (perfect for those souvenirs) and an impressive bronze statue of Napoleon 1st in the main square. This vibrant city is home to Les Haras Nationaux (National Stud Farm). The central square has many monuments. There is an immense expanse of water, a superb swimming-pool, ice-rink and sports centre nearby, as well as formal parks.
A 15-minute hop from some of the most beautiful beaches on the Vendee, this magnificent Renaissance château is located between Luçon and Sables-d'Olonne and has a splendid museum housing antiques and tapestries. Keen gardeners will love the well-cared-for gardens that benefit from the micro-climate of the region and are home to exotic plants from across the world.
This ancient port is also one of the largest towns on the Vendée. Visit the 17th Century cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace
This is a fascinating old town with a fortified harbour. The picturesque Renaissance quarter has beautiful ornamental gardens. You can take a boat trip to the Ile-de-Ré from the port.
This excellent, modern parc is regarded as one of the best in the Vendée, with a superb pool complex and just a five-minute walk to the beach.
Camping la Forêt offers many secluded and shaded pitches, is just a short stroll from a superb sandy beach and close to some fantastic towns.
One of our most popular parcs, La Yole nestles in a woodland glade with a great pool complex and is just over a mile from safe, sandy beaches.
Situated next to a wonderful sandy beach, this modern parc is ideal for a family beach holiday.
This small friendly, family-run parc is well maintained and always in great demand.
Surrounded by attractive woodland and close to a lovely sandy beach, Les Genets is a lively parc with an indoor pool and a superb waterpark. The excellent facilities make it ideal for a family holiday.
Offering a combination of big thrills and beautiful countryside, this lakeside parc offers first class facilities in the spacious parkland setting of a private château.
A small parc set in the grounds of a beautiful 19th century château, and just a ten-minute walk from the village, La Forêt has the feel of a peaceful, rural country estate.
A modern parc, ideally situated in unspoilt countryside. Close to the charming village and harbour of Jard-sur-Mer and perfect for a lively beach holiday.
Set on an unspoilt stretch of coastline close to the beach, there’s always plenty going on to entertain the whole family at Le Littoral.
A small and friendly, family-run parc next to the longest beach in the Vendée, Bel is ideal for families with younger children.
Thanks to its wonderful location, Camping le Pin Parasol offers great views of Lac du Jaunay and easy access to some of the Vendées outstanding beaches.
Next to the lively resort of Les Sables d’Olonne
Port Bourgenay captures the best of the region, in a pedestrianised, low-rise cluster of architect designed holiday homes, golf course and swimming pools set in verdant, safe countryside.
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