La Garangeoire at St Julien-Des-Landes is our favourite campsite. It is a very popular and spacious campsite set in the countryside of the Vendee in the grounds of a small château. The site has a lake with pedaloes and canoes and a stable block as well as football pitches, playpark areas, restaurants and table tennis and lots more too ! The site is a member of the prestigious Castels chain.
The site has excellent facilities, including a top quality restaurant and takeaway and a lovely swimming pool. Many of the plots onsite are a good size and the whole site is very spacious. You will hardly need to leave the site as onsite for family entertainment there is football pitches, fantastic playpark area, table tennis, the pool, children's club in high season and there is canoe hire on the lake as well as ponys based in the campsite stables. For adults and older kids there is tennis, fishing and my favourite - a small internet cafe ! The campsite owners make you feel very welcome and there is a wide variety of entertainment put on - from wine tasting, guided walks to crepe evenings, musical evenings and bouncy castles!
During the two weeks when we were there the campsite offered all sorts of activities including A Welcome Drink and Talk, French language lessons for adults and kids, wine tasting, painting, tour of a vineyard, volleyball tournament, crepes evening, children's games evening with bucking bronco, children's disco, a trip to a high ropes course and a Vendeen evening with local Vendeen dancers among many other activities. I am sure the exact activities offered change depending on whether its High Season or not but there was something for everyone!
If you are going to drive then here are the distances from the Channel Ports :
One hour 10 mins drive from La Garangeoire is this excellent theme park which has an historical theme with vikings, romans and gladiators all featuring as well as French history. There is also an evening spectacle which includes over 100 horses. It is a "must see" if you are in the area but it is expensive to visit so it is as well to plan in advance. Visit their website for information and they can send you out a brochure as well. To access the Puy du Foy website : https://www.puydufou.com/en?language_content_entity=en
A lively resort fifteen miles to the south of the campsite. There is also a zoo in Sables d'Olonne which is well worth visiting. This zoo is a 44km (52 mins) drive away. Almost 200 animals belonging to about forty species can be found at the zoo, including some endangered species. You will see flamingoes (flamant rouge, rainbow lorikeets (Loriquet de Swainson), snakes, gibbons, jaguars, lions, tigers (tigres), giraffes, red pandas and meerkats (Suricates) as well as many other animals, birds and reptiles.
St Jean des Monts is a lively tourist resort to the north.
The pretty fishing port of St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is well worth a visit.
You can visit the lake at Apremont where you can explore the castle ruins, laze on the grassy banks with a picnic and try your hand at windsurfing. There is a beach and you can swim or take out a pedalo or boat. The photographs show the lake and the Château d'Apremont which overlooks the lake.
14kms from La Garangeoire, at Brem Sur Mer, there is a small theme park "Parc d'Attractions".
La Rochelle is a 100 km (1 hr 45 min) drive away. The ancient port of La Rochelle has narrow streets, a fortified harbour and a fabulous aquarium. There are four ports. The largest, Port des Minimes is home to the Grand Pavois International boat show every September. The Vieux Port has many lovely restaurants around it. The centre of La Rochelle is compact enough to explore on foot. However if you want to get around more quickly you might like to try the self-service Vélo Jaune (city-owned yellow bikes), found at 26 key points across the city. You can also hire the bikes directly from Quai Valin (May-Sept) and all year on Place de Verdun. The first two hours are free, and you pay 1 Euro for every hour after that. You could also use Le Passeur and Bus de Mer (www.rtcr.fr) electric boats to hop between the city's ports. The Tourist Information Office which is only 300m from the train station can provide details of all of the above.
In La Rochelle, you may also like to visit the Musée des Automates, France's largest automated figure museum. This museum is home to around 300 models and some wonderful Victorian-era shop window displays. You may wish to walk around the interesting neighbourhood of Saint Nicolas, a city within a city, where everyone is said to know everyone else. It has cobbled streets and you could visit one of the cool bars, the vintage book shops or the antiques dealers or the Saturday Flea Market "Marche au Puces St Nicolas".
For more information about visiting La Rochelle, visit the tourist information website: http://www.larochelle-tourisme.com/
The Indian Forest is an adventure park with high ropes courses as well as lower level children's courses. In addition there is a picnic area, a woodland, paintball, a water jump !, mini golf, climbing wall. For more information, click here to access their website: http://www.indian-forest-atlantique.com/
This can be found at La Mothe Achard which is about a five minutes drive from the campsite. You can wander around the 1.5 hectare lovely garden and see flowers as well as all sorts of interesting pumpkins and gourds etc growing. There are over 1200 different varieties of plants. There is also an interesting shop and its possible to get coffee and ice cream. www.potagerextraordinaire.com
This 'vélo rail' runs through the countryside on old train lines from Commequiers to Coex. 10 kilometres of track can be explored for up to 4 hours. You need to book your trip on the Velo Rail in advance and the campsite reception can help you with this. However, be warned, it can be hard work, particularly if you meet another velo vehicle coming in the opposite direction. You need at least two adults (preferably strong ones !) as you may find you need to lift the vehicle off the single track if you meet another one travelling in the opposite direction as there are no sidings en route ! There are a number of velo rails throughout France and it is certainly "something different !"
Île de Ré is a low, narrow island about 30km long, with sandy beaches to the southwest and salt marshes and oyster beds to the northeast. Tst martinhe interior is a mix of vine, asparagus and wheat cultivation. All the buildings on Île de Ré are restricted to two storeys and are required to incorporate the typical local features of whitewashed walls, curly orange tiles and green-painted shutters, which give the island villages a holiday atmosphere. The island is reached by a road bridge with toll payable (off season toll is 9E and high season mid June to mid Sept it is 16.50E. You dont pay on return).
The capital is St-Martin, a north coast fishing port with beautiful whitewashed houses clustered around the stone quays of a well protected harbour.