Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas greetings from France

A last minute Christmas nibble in and around Fontenay.

The last few days of this week should surely be dedicated to panic. Trying to get last minute, unique and wonderful gifts (which you should of been shopping for ages ago) and fighting your way round the likes of Super U.  It’s the international language of the days before Christmas: panic, stress, a large dash of chaos and a desperate need for inspiration.

But there is good news for the French foodie or the foodie in France.

I am genuinely grateful to the Office de Tourisme du Pays de Fontenay Le Comte who have been running a “Made in Fontenay” campaign to support and promote local producers and artisans and provide inspiration to us last minute shoppers.  If you’re stuck for some foodie stocking filler ideas or just want something a little special and very local on your Christmas table, here are some of their top culinary recommendations:

La Lutine a mouth watering and award winning Boulangerie with shops in L’Orbrie (Mervent), Pissotte (I know a lady who always stops here on her way home from Fontenay) and Fontaines and their salted butter, caramel yule log sounds both unusual and divine.

French Christmas food

Salted butter caramel yule log from La Lutine

La Domaine de Boisse (rue Phelippon Baudray, Fontenay) specialise in duck and pigeon and have a wonderful selection of pigeon patés and rillettes (have that along with your snail spread perhaps).

Then (and one that I’m definitely heading to), there is a talented chocolaterie at L’Atelier du Gout in Foussais Payré (rue Melusine) who is well worth a visit and don’t forget to try the Fief Vendéens wines from Pissotte. I’ve heard mixed reviews about these so would love to know what you think.

Chocolaterie in Vendée

A must for Christmas in France.

Last minute gifts.

Thanks also to the Tourist Office for the heads up on some local artisans and gift ideas. For unique, hand painted glassware head to Jacqueline Diot (6 rue Du Moulin a Tan Les Loges in Mervent) where you’ll find mirrors, glasses, vases and photo frames and to Emma Creations in Montreuil (rue Chantefoin). Or there are quality leather goods at L’Octroi (Place de la Bascule) in Fontenay and metalcraft and sculptures at the Fonderie d’Art (rue Kléber, Fontenay).

Time for one last Christmas market in the Vendée.

Finally, if you haven’t yet enjoyed the delights of a local Christmas market then head down to Fontenay Le Comte this weekend. Starting today they’ve got all sorts of things going on including ice skating, ice sculpture, rides in a horse drawn carriage and tours of the old town, not to mention of course an artisans market and something described as “ambulation”!?

 

Christmas greetings from France

Happy Christmas from In the Vendée

Well I hope that this blog has provided a little bit of inspiration and respite from the mayhem of the next few days.  With luck you’ll soon be enjoying a well earned rest as well the blue skies and crisp weather!

The festive season always sees a massive surge in the number of people looking online at properties and hard as it is to believe at this point of chaos, people start thinking of buying or selling a property over the holidays. So after Christmas I’m hoping to catch up with local estate agents Agence Melusine to find out what tips they have for those of you thinking about a move in 2014. Until then, Joyeux Noel and I wont wish you happy new year as I understand this is considered bad luck before the 1st (which explains the odd looks I got last year).

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (http://www.foxwebcreation.com  and Lucy Pitts (www.lemoulin-frenchholidayhome.com)

 

Vendee Christmas

Local delights and Christmas in the Vendée.

Vendéan Specialities

For the foodies amongst you, I’m going to start off with a couple of quirky Vendéan specialities I’ve come across recently (and if you can enlighten me further about them, then all the better), the first of which is l’Escargotine. A local Facebook page has been urging me to make sure this snail spread is on my Christmas menu but frankly (and although I’m generally a fan of the snail if smothered in garlic) I’d rather eat my own liver! Anyone else come across this little delight, will it be part of your Christmas meal and most importantly, dare I ask what it tastes like?

French snail spread

l’Escargotine anyone?

Another speciality which does get my vote is a local liquor called Kamok. Made from roasted coffee and matured in an oak barrel, it’s originally from Lucon and is apparently best served at the end of a meal, with ice. Again, it’s not one I’ve come across before but as I do believe in trying all things local, I’m hoping to track some down and serve it on Christmas day.

Finally on this little culinary adventure in the Vendee, I came across La Mizotte, a local cheese notable for its wine soaked crust and its fruity, refined taste.  Made in Saint-Michel-en-l’Herm it is apparently a top seller in the Vendée so it is another cheese to be added to our Christmas table.

More festivities

In the thick of the mayhem that is Christmas as we are, there are still lots of special festive events going on in the region. One that particularly caught my eye is the Children’s Choir Festival which is holding concerts in the Abbey at Nieul sur L’Autise as well as at Faymoreau and Doix. Having visited the Abbey at Nieul recently, I can’t think of a more atmospheric and spectacular venue for some seasonal singing!

children's choir Vendée

Children’s Choir Festival – Nieul sur l’Autise

And if you haven’t had a chance to get to one yet, there are still lots of Christmas markets such as at La Meilleraie Tillay (Pouzauges) this Saturday 14th from 10 am until midnight with  workshops and Christmas activities as well as a horse drawn carriage parade. And in Fontenay on the 17th December which includes a torchlit procession.

Or if you are hanging on until the last minute to get into the festive spirit, why not head down to the coast to Les Sables d’Olonne on the 21st December and enoy their “Joyeux Noel” (vin chaud and hot roasted chestnuts promised) or to La Tranche Sur Mer where they have ice rinks, carrousels and games right through from the 20th December to the 5th January.

Christmas and noel in France

Head down to Les Sables d’Olonne.

In the Vendée would love to hear about any Christmas events or little known specialities that you’ve come across in this region or how you’ll be celebrating in France this year and you can drop us a line at lucy@inthevendee.com  In the mean time, enjoy these clear frosty mornings and all the many delights this wonderful region has to offer. I’m off to find some Kamok.

 

 

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (www.foxwebcreation.com)  and Lucy Pitts (www.lemoulin-frenchholidayhome.com)

 

 

 

 

 

Father Christmas in France

Welcome to your Vendée blog – we’d love to hear from you!

It’s all about your Vendée.

Vendée town

The roof tops of Fontenay

It’s no secret that I love the Vendée and its diverse countryside, quirky locals and eclectic expats and I believe it’s a region that has lots to offer to its residents and visitors alike.

So this blog is all about bringing you snippets of what is best about the region and an opportunity for you to shout about all that is wonderful, idiosyncratic or just plain interesting in the Vendée.

Perhaps you run a business here, have an event you’d like people to know about or have discovered a new activity or place of interest. Just get in contact with me Lucy (lucy@stroodcopy.co.uk) and i’ll do my best to let everyone in the Vendée know about it.

Let’s kick off with Christmas in the Vendée

Christmas events in the Vendée

La grande parade de Noel – photo from Vendée Tourisme.

There are lots of festive events happening in the next few weeks including eastern style markets at Maillezais (14th and 15th December) and Tiffauges (7th, 8th and 14th and 15th December) and the priory market at Fousaiss-Payré (8th December) all of which look like they are well worth a visit.

And let’s not forget the Puy du Fou Christmas spectacular (any one got tickets?), Noel a la Chabotterie at St. Sulpice le Verdon with its carousel, puppets, theatre and “journey into the imagination” and many other Christmas markets and events which are going on across the region. You’ll find Christmas markets at La Roche, Longeville sur Mer, Aiguillon sur Mer, Dompierre sur Yon and a traditional Christmas celebration of years gone by at Challans to name but a few of the festivities.

Father Christmas in France

A special visitor in Fontenay

The Vendée has a real touch of something special at Christmas and I’d also love to know your recommendations or favourite traditions that make this time of year in France special or unique. Do you enjoy oysters on Christmas morning, make your own gallete des Rois, celebrate le réveillon on Christmas eve or enjoy a particular local apéro?

It will be my second Christmas in the Vendée this month and I’m looking forward to vin chaud, long walks in the frosty countryside, the Puy du Fou and obscene amounts of seafood. The only thing I missed last year was Christmas crackers!