|Things To Do|
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La Rochelle (www.larochelle.fr/english/index.php) (http://www.larochelle-tourisme.com/en/) is France's 2nd largest boat building port and the historic Vieux Port remains largely unchanged. A daily fish market can be found in the old town until 12:00 midday. The port is very attractive and waterside cafés and restaurants offer a relaxing break. The seafood platters are their speciality and are excellent especially for large groups, where a single huge dish of shellfish is produced. The new marina holds Europe's largest aquarium which is open 365 days a year and has a large selection of fish from highly coloured tropical types to eels and sharks. Well worth a visit at approximately £4 per person.
Futuroscope (www.futuroscope.com/eng/index.php) is situated near Poitiers, it combines latest cinematic developments with the entertainment and fun of a theme park. there are a dozen or so main attractions comprising some of the largest cinema screens in the world (seven stories high), 3-d special effects, flight simulators, cinema seats on hydraulic pedestals, all around cinema with picture that extends underneath you, 360degree cinema screens, huge curved screens etc. These all show spectacular 20 minute films on various topics. There are also educational areas showing the history of cinema, and numerous restaurants and cafés. There are a number of smaller attractions also which include pedalos, fun mirrors, slides etc. Be warned though queues in peak holiday periods are massive, best to do this outside main French holiday periods. Costs approximately £15 per adult.
Mervent is only a short drive ride from L'Hermenault, it has a dam and a large reservoir. The area has been developed with tourism in mind. There are large wooded areas ideal for walking and particularly mountain biking. There are places where pedalos and wind surfers can be hired, and wind surfing lessons are offered at reasonable rates. There are also restaurants, a small zoo and a very extensive fun park known as 'Pierre Brune', which has dozens of rides from castles, crazy bikes, and slides to hamster wheels and see-saws. This is good value at approximately £3.
Venise Vert (www.la-venise-verte.com/english.htm) is the canal system the Vendée is famous for. There are numerous places (Maillezais is one of the best, 20 min drive from L'Hermenault) where small rowing boats can be hired (with or without guides). Maps are provided and you can navigate round canal systems to set routes. The canals range from 20m wide to narrow stretches barely wide enough for the boat. All the canals are completely covered with a very distinctive weed giving them the appearance of flat green land, hence the 'Venise Vert' name. At Maillezais there is also a restaurant, souvenir shop and crazy golf course. A fun day out, though beware, boat hire is more expensive than you would expect.
Puy de Fou (www.puydufou.com/UK) is well worth a visit, by day there is a theme park which includes mediaeval jousting, villages with traditional crafts and actors dressed in the period of the day. The highlight is a twice daily display of falconry. The display is held in an amphitheatre with hawks, falcons and eagles swooping over the crowd and collecting food from the falconers who are dressed in traditional costume. This includes every bird of prey you have ever imagined including some enormous vultures. Great fun and highly professional ! By night during the summer Puy de Fou is renowned for holding France's foremost Son et Lumière spectacle. This is a re-enactment of the dress history in full costume by night and includes battle scenes, village life and laser special effects set around a castle and lake. It includes a cast of hundreds of locals and is carried out on Friday and Saturday nights. Every show is sold out in the height of summer, but tickets can be booked in advance. There is also an English translation available on cassette. If you wish to go to the evening event and get the translation this can be booked in advance by credit card.
Île de Ré (www.iledere.com/english/index.php) is a quiet island off La Rochelle, a new road bridge makes it accessible by car. It is picturesque and has numerous beaches, cafés, towns and parks. The cost for the toll bridge is approximately £10 but is free if you cycle or walk out to the island. There is also a very good value golf course on the island.
Cognac (www.ville-cognac.fr/welcome.php3) is approximately 1½ hours drive south and well worth a visit for the connoisseur. In the centre of the town the best tour is that of the Otard distilleries, where cognac has been made for hundreds of years. A sample session follows the tour, but drivers beware, new laws on drink driving are more strict than UK.
Saumur (www.ot-saumur.fr) is more for the wine buff, it is similar distance north and this town on the Loire also offers numerous caves (cellars) along with various historic buildings.
St Emilion (www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com/gbpages/accueil/index.htm) is ½ hour drive south of Cognac, this historic wine producing region is for the red wine enthusiasts and boasts excellent tours of vineyards and historic sites.
Beaches in the Vendée are excellent, clean and sandy. The nearest are approximately 40km away and take a little under an hour to reach. There are three resorts next to each other on the coast, la Tranche-sur-Mer, l'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, and la Faute-sur-Mer . All are excellent for families, for the larger more touristy type of resort les Sables-d'Olonne offers full facilities expected of a more commercialised resort. This very popular resort is 70km away and takes approximately 1½ to reach.
Vouvant is a quiet historic town with a church overlooking a valley and river. There is a very good crêperie and pedalos can be hired out by the hour. This is ideal for the kids as it is only 15 minutes away.
Equestrian Riding School Farm
Equestrian Farm – riding and discovery school -
Béatrice et Bruno RIPAUD
Karting - Fontenay Le Comte-85
La Vallee des Singes, Primate Protection Reserve: (www.la-vallee-des-singes.fr/UK/index.html ) 30 species to be discovered White-Bellied Spider Monkey Tufted Capuchins Yellow-breasted Capuchin White-throated Capuchin Chimpanzees Colobus Monkey Gorilla Gelada Baboon White-cheeked Gibbons Woolly Monkey Schmidt's White-Nosed Monkey Barbary Macaques The White-Fronted Lemur Ring-Tailed Lemur Ruffed Lemur Mandrills Common Marmoset White-Fronted Marmoset Pygmy Marmoset Squirrel monkey White-Faced Saki Siamang Emperor Tamarin Golden Headed Lion Tamarin Golden Lion Tamarin Cotton-Topped Tamarin Titi Monkeys. Monkey Valley’s shady paths, brooks and waterfalls invite you to explore the calm beauty of its natural countryside. A new sight appears at each turn in the path. Listen…Observe… Use all of your senses and you will be transported into the fascinating universe of the primates!- 110km, about a 90 minute drive.
La Vallée des Singes
This page was last updated 11-Jan-2008