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Beaches of the South Vendee

The Vendée is justifiably famous for its beaches, which are amongst the best in Europe.  Beaches in the South Vendée are generally quieter that in the North with the North / South line being approximately denoted by Les Sables d’Olonne.

The beaches are mostly sandy (though one honourable exception has a fine line in rock pools at low tide) and are very family friendly. Some are only gently sloping: it is possible to go out quite a distance and still be in shallow water.

The Atlantic coast gets some very good surf, so surfboarding, wind surfing and boogie boarding are popular.

At any time of the year, a sunny day can make the beach a real pleasure, in winter sometimes a solitary one.

During the summer, many beaches have lifeguards. July and August are the busiest times on the beaches, unsurprisingly, and the beaches are at their busiest after about 4pm.

Our favourite beaches in the area are:

La Faute Sur Mer

The closest beach at about 40km. La Faute is a low-rise, relaxed, small, resort town. Access to the beach is via paths of a couple of hundred metres length over the dunes. The sandy beach here is particularly fine. During the summer period the bathing is supervised on some stretches. La Faute is a nice town and has some good restaurants. We can recommend La Grand' Voile on Avenue de la Plage.

La Tranche sur Mer

A few kilometres up the coast North from La Faute. The centre of the town is often busy, though there is plenty of parking and the beach in the town centre is excellent.

For a quieter beach, take one of the minor turns to the beaches coming in from the direction of La Faute before reaching La Tranche proper.

Our favourite beach on this stretch of the coast south of the town is up the Rue Ste. Anne. To find this, approaching from the direction of Aiguillon and La Faute, follow signs to La Tranche until reaching a turn for La Belle Henriette. Follow this and take the more minor road (the old route) again in the direction of La Tranche. Rue Ste Anne is a few km along, a left turn from a roundabout. There is a small car park at the end and access to the beach. There are no life guards on this stretch of beach.

The town of La Tranche sur Mer has dozens of restaurants and the quality is usually pretty good. Our favourite (though it is small and not really a choice for groups of more than six people) is Stefiouz at 41 avenue Maurice Samson.

Les Conches (Longeville sur Mer)

This is our favourite beach.  Les Conches is a small village, with a friendly bar, but little else. Les Conches is in the Forêt de Longeville, and the forest goes right up to the beach. There is a large car park and plenty of roadside parking and some picnic spots in the woods. Arrive at midday to be sure of a table – this beach tends to be quiet up to 4pm, busier thereafter. Restaurants on the half dozen or so campsites on the approach road to the beach are open during the summer months

this is a very gently sloping beach that is enormous when the tide is out and where the sea stays shallow for quite some distance. There is not a lot in the way of commerce here; just a few stalls selling drinks, snacks and ice cream. This is a good surf beach and there are two surf schools here. We recommend Manu Surf. About 55km drive. .

St Vincent sur Jard

TThis is the most distant of our favoured beaches at around 60km. The beach here is notable for two features: firstly, there are lots of interesting rock pools to muck about in; secondly, the beach is over looked by the last home of the French statesman, Georges Clemenceau. It is a surprisingly modest house for a man widely held to be the "father of victory" in the First World War. The house is as Clemenceau left it at the time of his death in 1929. The gardens here were designed by his friend, the famous impressionist, Claude Monet.

Beaches of the Il de Ré

These are well worth a visit. The journey is longer (up to an hour), and access to the Ile de Ré is via a toll bridge. (see Ile de Ré in this guide for more details). Nice spots include Gros-Jonc, Le Bois Plage and La Courade-sur-Mer.  Parking can be limited and the island can be crowded in the height of summer, so it is a good idea to set off early.

Les Sables D’Olonne

Les Sables is a bustling resort. Long popular with French holiday makers, the resort town has sometimes (perhaps optimistically) been compared to Cannes. The town is busy and well served with shops and a wide range of restaurants. The beach is broad & sandy and there is a wide range of activities available, including windsurfing and sailing.