Main Vendée Towns

La Roche Sur YonLa Roche Sur Yon

In 1804 Napoleon made La Roche-sur-Yon a prefecture and developed the town in a neoclassical, imperial style. Prior to this, Fontenay-le-Comte had been the prefecture or capital of the Vendée but Napoleon decided that La Roche-sur-Yon would take its place in that capacity. The Emperor called this new town Napoleon and over the next 60 years through republic and monarchy, the town’s name was changed seven times finally reverting back to the name of the original village in 1870. More detail on La Roche-sur-Yon

Les Sables d'OlonneLes Sables d’Olonne

The beach at Les Sables d’Olonne is ideal for families as it shelves very gently and is well cared for by the local community. On warm summer evenings, the beachfront promenade  ‘Le Remblai‘ fills with street performers. The town is also host to the internationally renowned “Vendée Globe” which is without doubt the world’s most prestigious single handed round the world yacht race held every 4 years. A month before the race takes place, the Vendée globe village is open to the public. More detail on Les Sables d’Olonne


The name: Fontenay comes from the Quatre-Tias Fountain meaning fountain of the four pipes and indeed the fountain is still there being inscribed with the names of magistrates who have sat on the bench in Fontenay. In the town are many limestone houses, some coated with roughcast sprawling between two thoroughfares which run perpendicular to the river. In the centre of the town is the Place Viète, which occupies the site of the Bastian, originally part of the old curtain wall. More detail on Fontenay-le-Comte

Musicians in ChallansChallans

The main economic centre of the Vendée and the second largest town, Challans is known as the ‘duck capital’ and is in many ways to the French what Aylesbury is to the English. Many restaurants include duck-based dishes on their menus and the ducks raised here are in demand throughout France by the greatest chefs. Specialities include: duck cooked in Muscadet and Flan Maraichin – a sort of egg custard in a pastry case. More detail on Challans

Church of Saint Christophe at Les HerbiersLes Herbiers

The chief products produced here are clothing and shoes (at the end of the C19th, Lois Rondeau opened a shoe factory) and several factory shops such as Les Atlantes can be visited. In the 60s the small communities of Herbaria and Ardelay were brought together to form Les Herbiers. Today the town has developed into a centre of trade and industry and Les Herbiers, the centre of which still retains its old world charm, is the perfect starting point from which to explore the haut bocage. More detail on Les Herbiers