After leaving the Lot and Dordogne areas of France (that blog is here) we moved north and west to the Vendee coast. Our first two stops were towards the southern end of that coastline. The first place we tried didn’t really do anything for us in terms of the campsite or the area so we moved on quite quickly. We got to Jard-surMer and found we liked it. There was a small port/harbour area and good beaches. The town was small but had everything we needed to hand. The campsite was roughly equidistant from both. Having been steadily using our new bikes more and more this was an area we loved. The Vendee as a whole now has a very extensive cycle network as well as linking into long distant cycle paths much of it dedicated to cyclists. Equally the roads were generally quite were quiet so when we did use them it was a better experience than we had expected. We certainly roamed further from the campsites, both along the coast and inland, than we’d done before.
From Jard-sur-Mer we moved on northwards almost to the tip of that section of coast and stayed at Notre-Dame-de-Monts. The campsite we stayed at was one of the best on the whole trip. Small and friendly with excellent staff and owners who could not be more helpful. Their website is here – it may even be one of those to book ahead, something we rarely do, as it is popular. In fairness Notre-Dame-de-Monts was not the best town for facilities that we stayed near although the market was a very busy one. However – and back on the bikes – St-Jean-de-Monts was about 8 kilometres away and an easy run either on the cycle path or on back roads. It was a far busier place – I’d probably not want to be there in the summer season – however that also meant plenty of shops and cafes etc. The coastline really consists of one very long beach and the cycle route runs parallel with it running through various terrain. It made for very enjoyable cycling.
On that subject we decided we would like to visit the Ile de Noirmoutier. Up to that point we’d probably not done much over 20 kilometres in a day. To get on to the island from our campsite would probably mean a day of double that distance so we kept our eyes on the weather for a decent day to try it out. Almost at the end of our time there we hit a really good day and so set off early. The bridge to the island is above and really is quite steep when you are pedalling up it (though coming down the other side is far more fun!). The island itself was great for cycling on although we only made it about halfway along it. We had some lunch and set off back and it probably was instrumental in convincing us that cycling was for us. We plan to head back to Noirmoutier and stay on the island to explore it more when we get a chance. After this we had a few nights on the southern Brittany coast but the weather was poor and then headed home.