Activities in the area
There are a huge range of activities available within the Vendee to keep you entertained, from Ballooning and boating through to surfing and walking. Below are just some of the activities available and links to some websites for further information.
Ballooning – Balloon flights over the Vendee countryside are available from Fontenay Le Comte which is approximately 35 minutes drive from Maison Mimosa. See http://www.hot-air-balloon-rides.eu/hot-air-balloons-rides.php
Bird Watching - Ornithologists are spoilt for choice. The Vendee is on the migratory route for many species, so large numbers of birds are seen in spring and autumn. A yearly activity not to be missed is the great migration south from September to November through the Point de Aiguillon estuary and bay area. Up to 420,000 migratory birds mostly Goldfinches, Song Thrush, Skylarks, Swallows and finches of all descriptions gather here before heading for warmer winters in Africa. The region is a popular nesting area for Avocets, Terns and Lapwings and, between April and September for Storks, which favour sites in the open marshland between Chateauneuf and Velluire. The mudflats of the bay of Bourgneuf provide an incredible wintertime spectacle at high tide when thousands of wading birds advance with the rising water, probing the mud for food. Herons, Egrets and other marshland birds are often seen on the salt-meadows, and Brent Geese arrive in large numbers during December on the Marais Breton. One of the hosts, Richard, helps a team that protects Montague and Hen Harrier nests each year from being accidentally hit by combine harvesters. See http://vendee.lpo.fr/
Boating /Canoeing/Surfing – Canoe and electric boat hire for trips on the nearby river Lay is available from several places in the area, the nearest being from next to the Pont Eiffel in Lavaud (3km from Maison Mimosa) from approximately €10 for the first hour and €5 per hour thereafter. Slightly further afield you can either hire a boat or be taken on a boat trip on the waters of the “Green Venice” area or the Marais Poitevin, which is found southeast of the Vendée. Windsurfing, sailing, surfing and even land-yachting are also available in the area.
There are numerous surf schools and surfing sites along the Vendee coast, the nearest of which is around La Tranche and Longeville which are around 30 minutes from Maison Mimosa.
A sentier littoral or coastal cycleway is nearing completion - many sections are already in use - which will allow cyclists to ride from one end of the Vendée to another – see http://pistes-cyclables.vendee.fr/ . Cycle routes also pass through the village. There are also iPhone and Android apps with information on Vendee cyle routes.
Fishing - Lake and river fishing should yield catfish, tench, roach, chub, perch, bream, carp, pike and zander. A "carte pêche-vacances" (holiday fishing permit) is available for holidaymakers, price around 30 euros (£20) for 15 consecutive days between 1 June and 30 September , and is valid for all non-private waters in the Vendée. The permit is available through tackle shops, or ask local tourist information office. The tourist office at Chaillé-les-Marais, south-east of Luçon, is particularly informative on everything to do with fishing. Lake Apremont (1 hour away) is well known for its excellent stock of Large Carp & Catfish.
Golf - Western France has some of the finest French golf courses, it also has the climate to enjoy them and the Vendée is well-endowed with golf facilities, with five 18-hole courses open to the public. These courses cover several top-notch landscapes.
- The Golf des Olonnes, just 3 km from Les Sables d’Olonne, is in the natural setting of the Vendée countryside, among stretches of water and small valleys. This course is suitable for players of all levels.
- Saint Jean-de-Monts runs alongside the beach, on stable, sandy terrain; the holes the length of the beach are truly reminiscent of the Scottish links, and the others wend their way through a maritime pine forest.
- The Golf de Port Bourgenay at Talmont Saint-Hilaire is the most recent on the Vendée coast. With sea views, it offers an unusual journey through the heart of a domain of 85 hectares, edged by a pine forest and small lakes.
- The Golf des Fontenelles, near St Gilles Croix-de-Vie, criss-crosses woods of oak and maritime pine, and looks down on pretty areas of water.
- The Golf de la Domangère, not far from La Roche-sur-Yon (at Nesmy), offers a magnificent California-style course at the heart of a 15th century domain. The France PRO 90 championship is played here. Please note – the course is 6,402 m long, and hole number 7 is the longest in France.
Multi course passes with discounted green fees are available.
Forgotten your clubs? - you can hire them on the spot at most courses!
Horse Racing - Several towns, including Challans, Machecoul, St-Jean-de-Monts and Les Sables-d'Olonne, hold race meetings (courses hippiques) in afternoon or evening. These are pleasantly informal events, and unless otherwise specified usually consist of a mixed programme of trotting, flat and steeplechase races.
Markets - There are markets around the area every day of the week. Lucon market on Wednesday and Saturdays is good for fresh local produce and cheeses. If you are venturing over to the Ile de Re, the market at La Flotte (The Fleet) is worth a visit.