Author Archives: Lucy Pitts

Cycling in the Vendée, France

On your bike!

Cycle Tour – Tuesday, 16th September – Vendee

Summer may be fading and the tourists heading home but I’m still of the view that September is one of the best months to enjoy the Vendée. The weather is still great (dare I say better than in it was in August), the attractions quieter and with the first gentle glow of Autumn in the trees, the scenery is better than ever.

And if you fancy getting out and enjoying it all, then Rick and Angie Spurier have just made it both easier and a whole load more fun. They’ve started a bike hire company (GoGo Bike Hire) and as part of that, they’ve teamed up with another local business, Le Clemenceau Bar (Mouilleron en Pareds) to offer a cycle tour of the local area.

Starting at Le Clemenceau Bar (Rue Clemenceau, 85390 Mouilleron en Pareds) at 11.00 am on 16th September, Rick will guide you along the Vendée Velo route, passing through Bazouges en Pareds and Pulteau and finishing at Le Clemenceau Bar.

This 21 km but leisurely ride will take approx. 1.5 – 2 hours and it’s no problem if you don’t have a bike as GoGo Bike Hire will supply hire bikes, helmets etc. with sizes to suit all at a cost of €10 (although of course if you have your own bike you are more than welcome to join too for just €2).

If you would like to know more or take part then email Rick and Angie on  and don’t forget to state your height if you are hiring a bike.

Refreshments can be purchased in Le Clemenceau bar prior to your departure and on your return … maybe you’d like to treat yourself to a well earned lunch! And if all goes well, this will be the first of many! Good luck and enjoy!

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (  and Lucy Pitts (




Fontenay le comte

Summer in the Vendée

Summer is well underway in the Vendée and the whole area is awash with sunshine, holiday makers, summer festivals and great things to do. If you’re in the area, you’d be hard pushed not to know about some of the many events that are going on but in case you find yourself with nothing to do, here are a couple of our suggestions:

1. If music is your thing, head down to St. Gilles and enjoy the last few days of 7 free concerts in and around the town as part of the “Les Musicales du Pays de St. Gilles” (ends 6th August so hurry). If you need to know more you can find them on Facebook or at

2. For a taste of the Vendée’s history and a great day out, make your way to Tiffauges. The chateau has all sorts of  re-enactments and attractions and “Les Noctunes de Tiffauges” is a musical set aound the grim but intriguing story of the castle’s notorious occupant and child murderer, Gilles de Rais also known as Bluebeard. If you’d like to know  more information, they have a great website:

3. Fancy something a little quirky? What about Fontenay’s “Sens Dessus Dessous”, a family friendly guided tour through cellars and other mysterious, dark places which takes place in the shadows of early evening. It’s run on the 5th, 12th and 19th August so it’s not too late and prices are 6 euros for adults and 4 euros for children. For more information and details of what else is on in this renaissance town, here’s the link

1096999_696354127105884_704802977558025381_o4. Throughout August and all the way down the Atlantic coast from St. Brevin les Pins right down to La Tranche sur Mer you can enjoy an absolute smorgasbord of free entertainment, with an eclectic mix of music, dance and street theatre which includes everything from African story telling, Burlesque dancing, rock and roll and blues and quite a lot more as part of La Deferlante, a free, family friendly, cultural event with a distinctive and international flavour. You’ll find the full August itinerary at

I hope that there is something here to keep you and the family entertained and if you have your own suggestions, be sure to let us know! Have fun and don’t forget the sun cream!

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (  and Lucy Pitts (



A sail round the the Marais Breton.


Mucking around in the marshes.

I often write about the beautiful region of Green Venice to the south of the Vendée, so this week I thought I’d visit a region not well known to me, namely the Marais Breton. Testament to that area’s once all important salt farming industry, this delightful labryrinth of canals and rivers in now home to diverse wild life and enchanting, historical memories.


The Marais Breton is a vast area in the north east of the region and like it’s sister marsh in the south, it’s had its share or Romans, Benedictine monks, Vikings and Normans  shaping its contours over the centuries but now represents a brilliantly preserved ecology.

Two treats in Sallertaine.

1. Ile aux artisans.

More or less in the heart of the region is the pretty town of Sallertaine and this is where I ended up. Once an island, in what was a silty bay, this town is home to white washed buildings and a vibrant community of artisans who come together under the umbrella of Ile aux artisans. If arts and crafts is your thing, then this represents paradise for you with this combination or artists, jewellery makers, woodworkers, textile production and more. And throughout the summer, they host 4 spectacular night time events which combine music, street theatre, shows and an opportunity to enjoy the artisan’s work.

2. La route du sel.

La route du selAnother compelling reason to visit this charming little town is an opportunity to explore the ancient salt marshes by way of canoe. There are lots of different canoe trips (or walks) available for exploring this area from family outings to BBQ events, but the two that really caught my eye were the sunrise canoe and the night canoe. It’s hard to resist the magical tranquillity of slipping quietly through these waters as the sun slowly drives away the mist or canoeing in the dusk past the XIIth century remains of the Abbey at the Ile Chauvet and enjoying a candlelit dinner. You can find all the details of where and how to book at

There are lots of other reasons to visit this little corner of the Vendée, which include the 12th century Romanesque church at Sallertaine, the longest operating windmill in France or a trip down to the beautiful Atlantic coast, where I’d always recommend a quayside lunch in St.Gilles. I’d love to hear from anyone who has already enjoyed any of the above or perhaps you can recommend your own secret delight that you’ve discovered in the region.

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (  and Lucy Pitts (


Vendeen dog rescue

Dog lovers of the Vendée – listen up.

Association Galia – giving dogs a second chance.

There’s an organisation in Fontenay le Comte called Association Galia who are doing fantastic work with the unloved, abandoned and mistreated dogs of the Vendée. They take in dogs of any age or breed and save about 100 dogs a year from death. They then help bring those dogs back to good health and rehabilitate those who are emotionally damaged as a result of ill treatment or neglect.  And they desperately need your help.  From making a donation (which you can do on their website), helping out at the refuge, raising funds, becoming a welcome family to help with rehabilitation or adopting a dog, there are lots of different ways to get involved and help give a dog a bright future.

Buffet and barbeque – 31st May  -help raise funds for this dog rescue and refuge centre.

dog resuce  France

Fund raising BBQ

Their next big fundraiser is on the 31st May in St. Martin des Fontaines and is not only a really important event in their fundraising calendar but also all set to be a great evening. I know many of you out there are dog lovers and this really is a good opportunity to do something to help.

You can find out more about Association Galia, their work and the BBQ at and make sure you put the above event in your diary. Hope to see you there.

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (  and Lucy Pitts (

Cycling in the Vendée

Have you tried the Vendée Tourisme Apps?

The Vendée Apps-  – is it just me who’s only just discovered them and are they any good?

I’m fairly new to the whole idea of downloading things to my mobile phone and having all that information at my fingertips. In fact you might even say I’m resistant so having stumbled across three free apps from the Vendée tourist board recently, I couldn’t help wondering whether you’re all using them on a regular basis and more importantly whether they are any good.

Vendée Tourisme App.

App for the Vendée

Get the App!

As I said, I am a app novice and so what I was looking for was something very easy to use and understand. The first thing to note about this app is of course that it’s in French but even a basic understanding, should be enough to help you get by. It’s got a fairly intuitive Home page where you can search for local resaurants, activities, events and places to stay and you can refine your search by way of way of reference to certain places or proximity to you. You can also refine your search further so if for example you are looking for a restaurant, you can chose French cuisine, world cuisine, pizza etc and once you’ve selected your search critieria it gives you lots of information as well as how far you are from them.

For me, this app delivered what I was hoping for, namely useful tourist information in and idiot proof manner and is definitely something I will be using in future.

Vendée Vélo – English or French versions.

I suspect if you are a serious cyclist, you may already have a cycling app or two but for those of us who just enjoy a bit of leisurely cycling in our spare time or when on holiday, the idea that you can access lots of route information as well as upload pictures of yourself, get weather forecasts etc  seems a good one.

However, the first thing I found was that my Android struggled with this app and kept stopping so in order to get a second and better opinion, I asked our resident tech expert Brian Fox for his views and this is what he found:

Cycling in the Vendée
The Vendée cycling App

 “There does seem to be a lot of useful  information on tourist sites, scenic spots, bicycle rental etc. However, the cycle routes part was a bit disappointing and the map is unintuitive because when you click on a route it shows you a scenic spot  rather than the actual path to take. You have to go back to the list and  then click back on map to show all the cycle routes near you and it’s quite difficult to tell them apart.”

“The user interface is another fail for me as it tries to be to clever with a wheel idea, but you end up having to hunt through quite small  diagonal scrolling text.  The sight or patience impaired are not  welcome here!”

“That said it does have some promise & with a bit of redesign could actually be quite useful. Unfortunately in it’s current state it’s the kind of app I’d  find incompatible with a stress free holiday. Better to cycle on over to the local tourist office.”

All said the Velo app has  1000+ downloads, 24+ 4 star ratings so does seem to be reasonably popular and of course the above is just our view. We’d love to know what you think, how you got on with it and better still, at the end of the day who comes out on top? Tourist Office or Mobile App?

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Days out in the Vendee

Struggling to keep the children entertained?

Looking for kid’s activities in the Vendée?

Whether or not you live in the Vendée or are just visiting, if you find yourself here at this time of year with children in tow, it isn’t always easy to find things to keep them occupied, particularly if they have every Wednesday off school and long school holidays. So the other day I was delighted to come across a number of quite diverse activities for children to do, thanks to the unusually proactive Office de Tourisme – Pays de Pouzauges.

They’ve put together a calendar of children’s activities for the period 26th February to 16th March, which is available to download at  but to give you a flavour of what’s on offer here is my summary:

Children's activities in Vendée, France

Kid’s activities with an educational twist

Chateau Saint Mesmin.

Chateau Saint Mesmin at Saint André sur Sevre is a great place to start if you’re looking for interesting things to do with an educational twist. For 2014 they promise an entire year or medieval events and workshops, starting this February with Wednesday workshops. This week’s workshop is all about learning the art and meaning behind the designs of heraldic coats of arms but if you think that might not be exciting enough, on the 5th March it’s all about the art of war and the workshop following that is all about medieval knights, which certainly promises a bit more dynamic. For more information visit

Days out in the Vendee

Science Museum in Reaumur

Manoir des Sciences

If your children are of a less warmongering disposition there is always the Manoir des Sciences at Reaumur which is also hosting weekly Wednesday workshops. I’m not sure that my kids would enjoy the traditional art of rope making this Wednesday but I am pretty certain  “chemistry in the kitchen” and exploring the grounds of the Manoir for the first signs of spring, which are the next two workshops, will have more appeal. Again you can find out more at

Lots more children’s activities

There are a number of other events on the agenda which include outside iceskating at Bressuire every afternoon from the 22nd February to the 9th March, a visit to the aquarium at Pescalis near Moncoutant on the 7th March and a step back in time to life in 1900 at the Tour Nivelle in Courlay. One other event which particularly caught my eye is K’eau Lanta on the 13th March at the Centre Aquatique in Pouzauges which seems to be a cross between water mediation and aqua areorobics and asks “Do you know how to be a hero?” If any one can tell me what that’s all about I’d be grateful otherwise I may be compelled to give it a go with or without the children!

Swimming in the Vendée

Wet and weird at the Centre Aquatique, Pouzauges

Shop for local Vendéen produce

I, for one am grateful to the tourist board for putting together some ideas and on the whole prices for the events look reasonable. I’d also like to give a shout to the new shop that the Tourist Office have opened at their offices in Pouzauges which is stocking quite a large range of local products. As a holiday home owner in the region, it struck me as a convenient local place to go and hunt out some Vendéen produce for a really personal welcome basket for guests at the same time as picking some of this years pamphlets on things to do. And if nothing else, it’s food for thought!

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Randonné in the Vendée

Time for a quick trip to Le Jardin de la Vendée.

I’m always on the look out for new places to explore and good days out in the Vendée so this week I thought I’d give a shout to an area that until recently I knew very little about. The cantons of Rocheserviere and St.Fulgent in the north of the Vendée, also known as the garden of the Vendée, are rich and diverse and whether you live in the area or just visiting, they have lots to offer.

Art and Culture in the Vendée.

The first thing that caught my attention about this area is that it appears to have a dynamic arts scene and is home to lots of creatives. If you love nothing better than to spend a day browsing art, then you are spoilt for choice here with dozens of studios dotted across the region. Whether it’s watercolours, landscapes, oil paintings or abstract that are your thing or perhaps you enjoy photography, jewellery design or basket weaving, there is an absolute wealth of talent to choose from. You can find out everything you need to know, as well as information about the frequent exhibitions held in the area at the local tourist office website at

local culture Vendée

Local artist Stephane Heuvelin

Walking and “Randocroquis”!

As with most of the Vendée, this area is a perfect place if you’re keen to do a bit of walking but I just love the idea of combing walking with art which is precisely the idea behind the Randocroquis trails. There are 4 trails, along the course of which you will come across regular sites for drawing or painting the landscape, with tips and assistance to boot. Part of a national scheme this is a great way to enjoy the landscape and improve and enjoy your own artistic flair.

Or if you like a bit of independence and adventure when you walk, you can rent a “visioguide/ GPS” from the local tourist office and navigate your own way round some of the regions trails. On top of which and as you’d expect in France, the area is well set up for rambling, walking, horse riding and cycling.

Again, if you do want to get out and about, you can find all the information you need at and http:// 

Randonné in the Vendée

Innovative walks and GPS adventures.

Other fascinating attractions.

As with most of the Vendée, this is an area which is rich in cultural heritage and there are lots of museums and places of interest to visit, which include everything from embroidery museums, tractors exhibitions and the well known historic landmark of Chabotterie de la Logis, with its beautiful house.

museums in Vendée France

Historic days out

I am very grateful to the people of Le Jardin de la Vendée, for helping me discover this region which I might not otherwise have got around to visiting and enjoying and they’ve got a great Facebook page if you want to keep bang up to date with what’s on. If you’ve visited the area I’d love to hear your views or if you are a  creative or business in the area, why not get in touch and we’ll feature you on the blog.


This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (  and Lucy Pitts (

motorbike repairs and renovations

The motorcycle specialist of the Vendée.

Anyone who visits the Vendée often or lives here, will know that Vendéens and the French have a love of motorbikes. What’s more it’s a great region for the motorbike enthusiast with local motorcycling clubs, quite a few regional motorbiking events which take place throughout the year and with the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race not far away.

Bikes in the Vendée France

Darren Hill of dhm motto – motorcycle specialist

And for anyone who is either an enthusiast or just a bike owner, there is one man in the Vendée who you really can’t afford not to know. Based in La Tardiere near la Chataigneraie but with a new workshop opening in Cheffois in February, Darren Hill of DHM moto is an Italian, Japaneese and classic British motorcycle specialist with 30 years experience of renovating, repairing, servicing and rebuilding bespoke, one off bikes and classics.

Having trained in Italy with Ducati and raced motorcycles himself, he has an unbeatable knowledge of engines and prides himself on doing all the work himself from sourcing difficult parts, engineering one offs, paint one offs and complete restorations, including zinc plating, chrome plating, bead blasting and electric repairs.

motorbike repairs and renovations

Unparalleled knowledge and experience

Whether you are looking to purchase or repair, Darren has a wealth of experience and contacts which is hard to beat, particularly in this area of France and if you’re looking  to buy, he can also source a bike for you. He’s bilingual and according to the people I’ve spoken to, he’s not only 110% reliable but always prepared, quite literally, to go that extra mile.

The warmer weather of spring is not far off and with it a chance for motorbike enthusiasts to get out on the road again. You can contact Darren on or phone on him 0251004216 (0033) or why not drive by and check out his new premises and the man himself in Cheffois.

This blog was brought to you by Brian Fox (  and Lucy Pitts (

Agence Melusine French estate agents

New year and French property dreams

Happy new year and bonne année to you all. I hope you’ve enjoyed some great food, a bit of relaxation, a splash of sunshine and that you’ve avoided the floods over in the UK.

New year is of course a time when many of us look forward and it’s also one of the most popular times for people to start thinking about realising a dream and buying a house in France, whether it’s as a home, an investment property or a maison secondaire.  So as we begin to emerge from recession and with property prices in the Vendée and interest rates still low, could this be the year you finally take the plunge and buy that French house you’ve always dreamt of?

Agence Melusine French estate agents

English speaking, experienced estate agents

With that in mind I caught up recently with Pauhla Hill from Agence Melusine, a fully bi lingual, local and well established estate agency with offices in the Vendée and the Deux Sevres who have many years experience of the French property market. I wanted to know what advice Pauhla could offer to anyone thinking of buying and whether she has any properties with which to tempt us.

“If you are thinking of buying, now is the time to start making arrangements to view.” Pauhla explained,  “Ferry crossings and accommodation are cheap and it is really important to see properties in the winter because If you love one now – you’ll adore it in the summer. It also means that you could have the keys for spring and you’ll also have the pick of the bunch as we’re expecting lots of properties to come on to the market in the next few weeks”.

“As the Vendée is only 3 ½ hrs from St. Malo and 6 -7 hrs from Calais, has 3 great airports and a reputation for being one of the sunniest regions of France, this is an ideal place to begin your French dream.  Obviously, I know a number of people who’ve bought here and they describe it as blissfully stepping back in time and because it has lots of wide open spaces, even in peak season, you never feel like you are on a tourist trail”

“What’s more there is currently a government tax incentive for vendors and to take advantage of it they need to sell their property before the summer. We can explain all the details to you in English if you’re worried about the language and we have a tried and tested list of businesses and people which you might need should you buy, such as builders, house keepers, internet providers etc. We can even recommend places to stay during your search and we really take time to get to know you, to make sure the properties you view are right up your street.”

So here is a sneak peak at just a few of the French properties Agence Melusine have to tempt you with?

House for sale in France

Great property, great location

If you love the bocage and the stunning Mervent forest and lake, have a look at these two properties. Both have lots of original features, space and buckets of traditional French charm as well as being in a great location.

Buying a house in Vendée, France

Stunning property in Mervent

Or for something in a village near historic and picturesque Pouzauges (with its own outbuildings and land), we think this one oozes Vendéen charm and can absolutely imagine sitting outside the last property enjoying the summer sunshine and a cool glass of wine.

Buying a house in the Vendée France

Farmhouse near Pouzauges


Buy a house in France

Tempted yet?

So, are you tempted? If you are (and I am but I already own my dream Vendéen house) you can contact Pauhla or on (0033) 0622006492 / 0251004216 and you’ll find her at

I know that I for one enjoyed every minute of our French property search and contrary to popular belief, ours was a straight forward, utterly stress free experience. 3 years on and I have no regrets and many happy memories. So what’s stopping you – happy hunting!


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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).

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