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The South Vendée, France

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Tips for trips

Our naturist site Le Colombier is an excellent starting point to discover "La Vendée".
Of course you can find many leaflets in our reception, but we would like to give you some ideas on this page.
From time to time we will update this information page by adding new tips.

We have tried to make a kind of scoring system:

* Worthwhile
** Very interesting
*** You need to go and see this

Naturist beach La Terrière

Distance from Le Colombier about 54 km, an hours drive

A real (day) trip for beach and sea lovers. The beach is very wide and clean. It borders the Atlantic Ocean, so the waves are high.

  • From Ste Hermine take the D137 in the direction of Luçon (± 11 km)
  • At the roundabout go right on to the D949 (± 5 km)
  • At the next roundabout in Luçon take direction "Les Sables d'Olonne"
  • At the next roundabout go to the right. Turn left in the direction of "Les Sables d'Olonne"
  • Follow the D949 for 9 km then turn left in the direction of "La Tranche sur Mer via Curzon"
    - D46 (Beware! There is a dangerous left hand turn on a bend to the left also)
  • Continue through St. Benoist sur Mer then at the roundabout take the 3rd exit - D747 - in the direction of La Tranche sur Mer (± 8 km). In La Tranche sur Mer, at the first roundabout turn right, at the 2nd roundabout turn right again. As you enter the village of La Terrière you will see white houses on your left.
  • Drive into the village centre and follow the signs for "La Plage". Parking is available behind the beach.
  • Once on the beach turn right and walk approx. 500m to the naturist area (beyond the large white sign).

Naturist beach Pointe d'Arcay, L'Aiguillon sur Mer

Distance from Le Colombier about 54 km, an hours drive

A totally different sensation to go to this beach. The beach is situated in a bay, so the difference between high and low tide is not so big. At low tide you can see the poles on which the mussels grow and if the weather is clear you can see the bridge leading from La Rochelle to Ile de Ré. The only disadvantage is that you must walk about 3 km (3/4 of an hour) to reach this beach.

From the centre of La Faute sur Mer you follow direction La Pointe d'Arcay. The naturist beach is indicated. You can either reach the beach by following the road through the forest, or via the (textile) beach.

Bazoges en Pareds: Dungeon, museum, herb garden and an ancient monolith **

Interesting for children, distance from Le Colombier about 8 km

You can visit the grounds and tour inside the Dungeon (also a nice trip if it rains). This dungeon was built during the "100 year war" in 1300. A spiral staircase leads you through six fully restored and furnished levels bringing you out on the allure, 30 m above the ground. On several floors you will find different antique objects, for example swords, beds, etc. It is a worthwhile climb to the top; as it opens up a wonderful view of the surrounding area.

At the "Donjon" you can choose what you wish to visit. Only the "Donjon", or a combination with a visit to the garden and/or the museum. Depending on the entrance ticket that you buy, you will receive a booklet with explanation regarding the dungeon and/or the garden in English.

The herb garden - that has been kept in the same outlay as during the Medieval Period - has been rewarded in 2003 as best garden of the Vendée. Here you can find several old species of plants, spices and vegetables as well as medicinal herbs. Relish the fragrance of the old rose bushes twined around a 16th century dovecote. The garden is accessible by wheelchair.

If the land life during the 18th century interests you, than you should not forget to call in and visit the museum.

In Bazoges en Pareds several remains from the Early Stone Age, that started around 11.000 years before Christ, are to be found. One of these remains is the ancient monolith "La Ciste des Cous" along the route départementale (D43), Route de la Jaudonnière, at a distance of about 2 km from the center of Bazoges.

Luçon **

The land born from the sea

Distance from Le Colombier about 25 km

The cathedral of Luçon is a worthwhile visit; originally built in the 7th century as an abbey, the church was declared a cathedral in 1317. The famous cardinal de Richelieu, has been bishop and cardinal in Luçon.

Opposite the cathedral you will find the Kamok museum. In this museum you will find a shop where you can buy the Kamok liqueur. This liqueur is said to have been introduced in Luçon by the Dutch who have been involved in the construction of the canals in the Marais-Poitevin.

Garden lovers really should visit "Le Jardin Dumaine". You will find this beautiful garden on: 1 Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville. The Jardin Dumaine with its topiary figures is listed as one of the "plus beaux jardins de France". Entrance free of charge.

Luçon is a commercial town with a diversified economy offering all services. Luçon has still kept its link to the sea via a canal. Its towing trail, which has been altered to a cycling and walking track, now provides enjoyment and recreation for cyclists and ramblers.

La Roche sur Yon *

Suitable for children, distance from Le Colombier about 40 km (30 - 40 minutes by car)

In the heart of La Roche sur Yon you find a beautiful Stud on a 4 ha large site. The "Haras de la Vendée" welcomes you to the world of the horse. Here you can enjoy spectacular shows and educational activities for the whole family, while the saddlers and marshals of the National Studs will reveal the mysteries of a thriving traditional culture.

Please book beforehand if you wish your visit to be guided.

The most important square in La Roche is the "Place Napoléon". Here you can do your shopping or enjoy sitting on a terrace. The "Place Napoléon" is under construction since 2011 in order to be adapted to the demands of the modern day.
Every second Monday of the month there is a large market in the centre of town.

"Les Flaneries" is a covered shopping centre on the north side of La Roche sur Yon, where you find for example H&M, shoe shops, bookshop, many boutiques, etc. You can reach this shopping centre near the D937 via the ring around La Roche.
South of La Roche a new shopping centre has been created, Sud Avenue. Here you will find C&A, toyshops, Le Roy Merlin (big do-it-yourself shop), various restaurants, etc.

Vouvant **

Suitable for children, distance from Le Colombier about 21 km (25 minutes by car)

Vouvant is known as "Petite Cité de Caractère". It is a small village where you will find many well renovated houses and buildings. Part of the church is nowadays in use as a museum.
Wandering through Vouvant you can have a closer look at an ancient washing place, which is to be found near the river just across the beautiful Roman bridge. You can also still see many remains of the old ramparts. During July and August Vouvant is also famous for the many painters that gather their, painting in gardens, near the river side, etc.

You can climb the "Tour Mélusine". On top you will have a wonderful view over the river and the surrounding area. It is also worthwhile visiting "La maison Mélusine" where you will find plenty of information about the fairy Mélusine. You will find a short version of the legend of Mélusine (the fairy) on our page about La Vendée.
Every 2nd Thursday of the month there is a small market in Vouvant.

Abbey of Nieul sur l'Autise ***

Suitable for children (also good on a rainy day); distance from Le Colombier about 38 km (45 minutes by car)

It is an absolute must to visit this abbey. With your ticket for this abbey you receive a small information booklet (in English). The entrance is free of charge for children till the age of 18. During your visit you find several touch screens via which you can listen to the history of the abbey in English. Thus history comes alive via modern technique. You, the visitor, get a fairly good impression about how it must have been in the old days.
In the attic you will see 7 old instruments, that light up and start to reproduce the sound of the specific instrument the moment you come close. A very special experience!
After you have left the abbey you can go and visit the house "Aliénor". Here you can conclude your visit by means of a very spectacular recapitulation of your discovery visit to the abbey. You will be welcomed in a special way if you enter the hall of this big Empire style house.

In the next room you will find a scale model of the abbey as it supposedly was in the 12th century. In the room next to that you will find several large chairs. Take a seat and have a look around the abbey by means of a screen and joystick; you will be guided by a monk who grants you a peak into "his era". You will see the monks in their library, at dinner, etc.

Your entrance card gives you the right to a reduction if you also visit the Abbey of Maillezais. Both abbey's were built shortly after the year 1000 and have contributed to the development of the Bas-Poitou.

Not far from the abbey in Nieul you will find a mill, which is open to visitors. Next to it there is a shop where you can find souvenirs and flour.
If you fancy a "crèpe" than you should not forget to visit the "crêperie" (closed on Monday's).

The Abbey of Maillezais ***

Suitable for children (also good on a rainy day); distance from Le Colombier about 41 km (40 minutes by car)

A totally different experience will be your visit to the Abbey of Maillezais. This ruin shows the beautiful architecture of the Middle Ages. In July and August you can witness many activities. There are workmen showing you how in those days the Abbey was built, there will be a choir that lets you enjoy the songs of those days. Also for children there are many interesting things to visit. The entrance ticket gives you the right to a reduction for a visit of the Abbey in Nieul.

Near the Abbey in Maillezais you can rent a boat with or without a guide to explore "Le Marais Poitevin", that is known as the Green Venice.

Le Grand Parc de Puy du Fou ***

Suitable for children; distance from Le Colombier about 45 km (45 minutes by car)

This beautifully maintained park is an absolute must to visit. See too the special block on our website. The management of Le Puy du Fou tries to adapt and change the colourful shows every year.
In our reception we have some walkmen that we are happy to lend to you to listen to the spoken text in English.

A CAR RIDE ALONG THE CANALS IN THE MARAIS POITEVIN

This car ride is about 160 km long.

It is a very nice varying ride through villages that are built along the canals of the Maris Poitevin (Green Venice).

You leave the camp site and turn right. Turn left on the T-junction. Follow the road through the village of St. Martin-Lars and continue on the D10 direction Thiré. Turn right in the direction of Thiré (D8).

You turn left to the Rue du Stade (D10); at the crossing you go left, direction Fontenay le Comte (D148).

Keep following this road through St. Etienne de Brillouet and Pouillé direction Fontenay le Comte. You stay on this D148 till you see the exit to La Rochelle (several km's after the exit to Fontenay le Comte centre). At the round-about follow direction La Rochelle. Go right at the first road direction Boisse. In Boisse you follow the D115 direction Chaix and Velluire.
About 500 m before Velluire you turn right, this is the D68, you cross the railway and keep to the right. After that you turn left to the D65, direction Le Gué-de-Velluire. In Le Gué-de-Velluire your turn left on to the D25.

Take the third road to the right where you see indicated L'île-d'Elle and Marans. On your left hand you see the laboratoire de viticulture, which is an unusual building. After the railway road you turn right at the T-junction (D938). At the end of the road you turn left direction Marans, to the D137.

Marans is a nice place for a break, here you find terraces on the edges of the canals, a small marina and a covered market.
At the traffic lights you turn to the left in the direction of Courçon. Continue on this road. In l'Etoile, 2 km before Courçon, you turn left on the D206 direction Margot. At the first Y-junction (there is a house with a fence) turn right onto a small road you will traverse Morvins. Turn left at the T-junction and than continue right on this small road.

Turn left after 800 m (you will see a blue sign indicating a bicycle circuit on the right side of the road) and at the end of this road you turn right direction La Ronde. Take some time to look around you because here you have the chance to see many birds of prey.
At the end of the road you turn to the right, cross a little bridge, turn left at the T-junction across the bridge. You are now in the middle of the Marias Poitevin and surrounded by canals.

Near the bridge you turn left, taking the D262/E3 to La Ronde. First you will pass the hamlet Chalogne. Continue on the D262/E3. In La Ronde you follow the D116 direction Maillezais. Jut after the bridge there is a nice restaurant "Auberge du Vieux Batellier", that is on the waters edge.
At the crossing you turn right on the D25 direction Damvix. In the centre of Damvix you follow the signs direction Bourg. You will pas the church and cross the bridge direction Arçais (D104, later D102). Damvix as well as Arçais are villages worthy of spending some time discovering. Both villages are bordering canals, you will find a lot of terraces, antique/2nd hand shops, souvenirshops and you can also rent a boat to discove the Marais Poitevin from the water (with guide if you prefer to).

Juster after Arçais you follow the D102, later the D123 direction Coulon, along the large river Sèvre Niortaise. Just after Coulon you take the D1 direction Benet. As soon as you enter Benet you turn left on the D25, at the crossing you go straight on following the D25 towards the D68A. You enter Villeneuve, go straight on at the crossing, turn left near the direction sign towards Azire and than immediately left onto a small landroad.

At the end of the road turn left to the D68A and continue on this road direction Maillezais. At the end of the road you turn left; than straight right to the D68 to Maillezais.
If you wish to visit the Abbey you turn right at the crossing.

To follow the circuit you turn right at the end of the road and then at the end of the road left to the D15 direction Fontenay-le-Comte. At the petrol-station turn left direction Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux. At the end of the road turn right to the D23. Here you have the chance to have a picnic or to go for a walk.
Via Puy-Sec the D23 brings you back to Fontenay-le-Comte where you go back in the direction of Ste Hermine via the D148.

Just after St. Etienne de Brillouet you turn right in the direction of Thiré. Here you follow the D10 to go back to St. Martin-Lars and Le Colombier (02 51 27 83 84).

Naturist camping Le Colombier

85210 Saint Martin-Lars en Sainte Hermine
France
Tel: +33 (0)251 27 83 84

E-mail: info@lecolombier-naturisme.com

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