TRAVEL: France’s Vendee coast has something to offer for all
Golden sandy beaches stretching for miles, warm sunny days and a holiday the children described as one of their best ever - what more could we ask for?
France’s Vendee region is famed for its coastline and historic ports and is a popular destination for both the French and families from overseas.
Whether you want to visit picturesque market towns and islands, soak up the sun or enjoy a week of family fun it is an ideal destination.
We were staying with Eurocamp at Les Ecureuils – a parc yards from the beach at St Hilaire de Riez and just a few hours from the more southerly Channel ports.
It was our first holiday with Eurocamp but I’m sure it won’t be our last. Eurocamp at Les Ecureuils provided holiday clubs complete with games, drama, face-painting and crafts for younger visitors and our four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter made the most of them every morning and most afternoons.
Not only did it give them the chance to have fun and make friends without us but it also gave my wife and me the opportunity to leave the parc and enjoy some less child-focussed excursions up or down the coast.
We opted for one of Eurocamp’s new Avant holiday homes which gave us plenty of space both inside and out along with all the facilities you wouldn’t get in a tent.
Les Ecureuils offers a pool complex with flumes and a ‘easy-river’ - which proved especially popular with our four-year-old - along with a play park, bar, shop and restaurant. The pools and flumes in particular were such an attraction it was sometimes difficult to drag the children away to the beach.
The parc is part of a strip of campsites along the Vendee coast and is complemented by many family-friendly attractions including water parks, quad biking and adventure centres. These may not create the typical French feel you would expect for a coastal resort, but make sure there is plenty on offer for all.
A few miles away is the town of St Jean du Monts which boasts eight kilometres of sandy beaches and a long promenade. It’s a great place to visit during the day offering coastal walks, cafes and bars along with a tourist centre hosting galleries and providing information about the area.
In the evening some of the main streets near the seafront come alive with a bustling night market offering treats, souvenirs, clothing, games and the latest crazes – which this year was hair braiding, an option my seven-year-old was keen to experience.
Further south is the pretty town of St Gilles Croix de Vie. We visited on market day and experienced the typical French stalls selling cheeses and fruits as well as the usual shops and cafes in the town centre.
If you enjoy two wheels, the flat Vendee region with its coastal and inland cycle paths is ideal. Whether you take your bikes or hire them from one of the many outlets, it’s a very popular option.
The Vendee is about a four-hour drive from the port of Caen. We took a daytime crossing with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth opting for a sea-view cabin and enjoyed onboard facilities and entertainment during our six hours on board.
After ten days in the Vendee we had only scratched the surface of what was on offer. With the lure of the beach, the attraction of the pool and the popularity of the holiday clubs there was not enough time to tear ourselves away and see the region’s many sights. No doubt we’ll be heading back soon to see more of what the sunny Vendee has to offer.