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Camping in Vendee, France

Reference material used to produce this page was from: http://www.qualitycamping.co.uk/france/vendee/holidays-vendee.php

A journey through the Vendée, western France

If yours is a driving holiday for camping in the Vendée may we suggest that you use one of the following ports in order of preference? 1) St Malo, 2) Caen, 3) Cherbourg. From St Malo you should easily make it to anywhere in the Vendée in just a tad under 3 hours drive if you don't make a slip up around Nantes.

So to get there you follow signs from St Malo to Rennes & then Nantes on the N137 dual carriageway which takes you to join the Nantes périphérique (ring road) at Junction 37. Make sure you follow signs for Bordeaux and exit the périphérique at Junction 48. Which road you take after that depends on where you are camping in the Vendee – link but no accent = é.

We mention the périphérique because there is minimal warning of it when approaching from the north and should you miss that turn off then you will have to drive through the city centre – not the end of the world but it adds to the time it takes to get to your campsite.

The Vendée coast, or Le Littoral as the French call it, is roughly 200 KMs long and roughly 140 KMs of that is made up of fine sandy beaches. It is along here where you will find most of the campsite in this region, lots and lots of them, large and small, and on this page we are giving you a brief intro into the most popular of them.

From the north then we arrive at Noirmoutier-en-Ile, which was once just about an island but is now joined to the mainland by the D38 road. Noirmoutier is a charming place with lovely beaches at the far end. One of the major landmarks on the island is the Chateau de Noirmoutier, a very important listed building which was initially built as a castle and served to keep the Vikings at bay some centuries ago.

Noirmoutier is a popular resort but less so with Brits for holidays who usually go there for day trips.

St Jean de Monts and St Jean Plage are next and they are virtually the same place. St Jean de M is just down the road from Noirmoutier and is probably one of the most popular camping holiday resorts in the whole of the Vendee. Masses of campsites serve the onslaught of summer visitors who swarm here from the UK, Ireland and all over northern Europe.

Take it from me (the editor) that St Jean de Monts is a superb place and well worth making your base for the time you are in France.

There are lovely, extensive golden sand beaches, lots of forest/woodland, super restaurants, shops and a twice weekly market in the bottom of the town which is several hundred feet below sea level. Seriously, you just can't help but love this town!

About the above: The top of the town with hotels, restaurants, shops and parking areas is at sea level. Thankfully the beach there is rather flat or there would have been a disaster there well before now!

Go down any of the streets 100 metres from the top and there is another part of the town which is just shops and another car park, then as far down again is the main town, shops, supermarket, parking and market area.

A few KMs further south and we come to St Hilaire de Riez and the very next door St Gilles Croix de Vie are next down the same road (D38) going south and these two towns are pretty well merged these days, but just separated by the river Vie. St Hilaire and its lovely beaches face what is known as the Corniche Vendienne, one of the few areas on the Vendee coast which has cliffs (low ones), about 5 kms of them going south, and which are interspersed with small sandy coves.

The whole length has been developed to allow walkers, cyclists hikers etc. to enjoy this site of natural beauty which draws in a vast number of visitors to the area.

Slightly further south again we arrive at another Vendée camping resort called Saint Gilles Croix de Vie which is a lovely place and has a port known for its sardine fishing. There are plenty of bars and restaurants and an annual Jazz Festival too, plus the usual excellent celebrations on the 14th July which ends up at the beach for fireworks (if there's anyone sober enough to let them off by then!). The usual superb Vendee summer weather applies here too and you can usually find surfers here are most times of the year. Both towns are great resorts for camping and mobile home holidays.

Bretignolles-Sur-mer is the next port of call just a few short kms down the road from St Gilles. Bretignolles is an superb setting for camping and mobile home holidays, and it has miles of wonderful golden beaches just a short way from the town centre where there are cafes, restaurants, bakeries, banks, a large supermarket and the usual assortment of shops which are the backbone of a town this size, and there are markets on Sundays and Thursdays.

This is a great place for water sports enthusiasts for such things as surfing, sailing, kite-surfing or swimming. Cycle paths and footpaths are all over the place and take you around the locality to other towns and villages and along coastal paths where you can do a spot of bird watching if your Binos are handy.

Brem-sur-Mer is just a tad further down the coast on the same D38 road. Brem is far smaller than Bretignolles and a little set back from the beach, but there are some good sandy areas here which proves the point that size isn't everything!

One of the most famous churches in the Vendee is that of St-Nicolas-de-Brem, and it is signposted from the D38 road so you can't miss it. Basically, this is a small town/village with loads of appeal to anyone who likes a quiet and peaceful place to stay and use as a base, and also as a point from where they can explore the rest of the Vendee.

Olonne-sur-Mer is next and just about 6 or 7 kms south of Brem but still on the D38. It is still called "sur Mer" even though it is still slightly inland - this came about when there was a shift in the shoreline and Olonne was left high and dry, so to speak. Having said that, there are some lakes very close to the town/village which are part of a nature reserve, and then there is the mysterious Foret d'Olonne which follows the shoreline from Brem to les Sables d'Olonne further south.

And oh yes, there is a naturist beach at Olonne sur Mer, at the end of Plage les Granges.

Les Sables d'Olonne, about 2.5 kms south of Olonne sur Mer is next on the list and this is far, far larger than most of the other seaside towns in the Vendée. This was the first yachting harbour in the Vendee and as a venue for yachting it is extremely important as not only is it one of the most important commercial ports on the Atlantic coast, is home to several nautical events every year, including the prestigious Vendée Globe race.

It is a lively resort and has plenty to offer in its surrounding areas, which makes it ideal for those who don't want to just sit on a beach all day.

The main beach at les Sables is called la Grande Plage des Sables d'Olonne, and it is a supervised beach roughly 2 miles or 3 km in length. It is a nice and sandy and south facing so it catches the sun well, and it's a great place for a swim and for sunbathing. Les Sables also has other beaches, and between them they offer a good assortment of watersports including sea-kayaking, paragliding, sailing, diving, deep-sea fishing and jet-skiing. All in all this place makes a great base for camping holidays.

Port Bourgenay is about 13 kms south of les Sables, and this has to be one of the smaller towns/villages in the Vendee which offer camping and mobile home holidays, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in the beauty stakes.

This is a purpose built holiday resort and it lies about 5 km south of Talmont St Hilaire. Being purpose built it has the best of everything, the marina which is both modern and very easy on the eye, an 85 hectare golf course and one of the prettiest beaches in the Vendee at Veillon. Up to now, and we stress, up to now it hasn't been found by the usual hordes of holidaymakers who make their annual trek to the Vendee.

The beach is supervised during the season and there are refreshments available including a beach restaurant. One word of warning here though; parking near the beach is quite limited, but if you have to park away from the beach then the walk over the dunes or along the beach, especially at low tide, will reward you with possibly the finest scenery in this part of France.

Jard-sur Mer is the next stop on our travels, and this miniscule place in the sun lies at the end of the D21 road about 7 miles due south of Talmont St Hilaire. Town centre is just a tad inland but the seaside bit has a lovely little harbour and some nice housing dotted around it.

One "must see" is the Abbey of Lieu-Dieu which was financed by Richard the Lionheart (with our money no doubt), but you may get lucky and get there on a day when it is open to the public. Yes there is a beach and there are campsites offering camping holidays too. There is also a superb walk which is partly clifftop and partly through forests of old holm-oak to the Pointe du Payre, from where you can look across to Le Veillon beach.

St Vincent-sur-Jard is our next destination and this little place is at the north end of the Foret de Longeville, a wooded area of about 12 or 13 kms which follows the shoreline behind the dunes. This is a great place for watersports, walking, cycling and nature watching as there are loads of different species of birds there - and the friendly little red squirrels.

Les Conches near to Longeville-sur Mer is the next stop and Longeville is actually inland by the way, not on the coast as its name implies. There are quite a few camping and mobile home sites in the near vicinity, and we have ourselves stayed in le Clos des Pins in Les Conches several times when it was owned and operated by some friends, so we know the area very well.

Les Conches has a Blue Flag beach which is 400 metres from le Clos des Pins campsite, and this is one of the best surfing beaches in the Vendee. Believe this or not, but people come from all over northern Europe to surf here, and there are never enough campsites to house them all at weekends so they sleep in their cars by the side of the road!

La Tranche sur Mer is the last on our list of camping and mobile home resorts in the Vendee and is about 6 or 7 kms south of les Conches but far larger. There is a large supermarket 6 kms away on the outskirts of la Tranche. The town itself is a tad smaller than St Jean de Monts but it too becomes seriously busy in season.

Visitors here will be happy with the beach situation as there is a 13 km stretch of it here with 8 kms of it being south facing. La Tranche is a great fun resort as well as somewhere which offers plenty of walking and cycling opportunities through having pedestrian paths through the countryside so that you can take in the local flora and fauna. Nice place.

Sadly, that's it for the moment, and yes, there are other camping and mobile home resorts which we have left out, but from the outset we only intended to list the most popular ones, though as tastes change there are always some which gain favour with the tour operators just as there are some who fall on stony ground.

Last updated 9.6.16

Last update: 10.06.2016