Take a weekend trip to the sandy shores of France’s Vendée coast. We've picked five spots for you to enjoy the region’s fresh seafood, patisserie and more.
If the acres of wide, sandy beaches, pine forests and pretty harbours aren’t reason enough to visit western France’s Atlantic coast, the rich food culture and wealth of seafood more than tip the balance. From the oyster trade in the Bay of Bourgneuf and sardines from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, to brioche (‘better than Paris!’, you’ll be told), charcuterie and glistening white salt, the Vendée coast has plenty to offer. We've rounded up five places where you can sample the best of the region’s bountiful produce...
1. Café de la Plage
This step-back-in-time café stands at the tip of the promenade facing the sea. Cosy inside if it’s cool and with outside tables for sunny days, you’ll find moules, lobster gratin, oysters, crêpes and profiteroles. It’s all fabulously old-school, so stick to the obvious choices. (1 Promenade de la Mer, +33 2 51 54 51 76)
2. Le Casier
Near the church in the centre of the old port in Saint-Gilles you’ll find Le Casier. Outside tables allow you to dine with a sea view, or you can sit inside if it’s hot. There's an excellent soupe de poisson (£7.60), oysters start at £8 for six, and you should try Croix de Vie sardines with potatoes and butter (£10.90) to follow. There’s an under-12s menu of fish and chips or steak hâché with a drink and ice cream for £10.50 per head.
3. Le Bistrot Plage
The serene sweep of beach at Notre-Dame-de-Monts boasts a library and free games on a wooden esplanade next to this bistro, as well as the best beach views going. Order moules and frites or sardines and a glass of wine, or just stop for a coffee, cold beer or ice cream, but you’re best to book – with views like these, the tables fill up fast. (Plage Centrale, +33 7 71 04 96 37, or visit Le Bistrot Plage’s Facebook page).
4. L’Huîtrière de Fromentine
Oyster guru David Lecossois does a wonderful tour of his place – and even better, he will do it in English if you ask – or you can simply have lunch at one of the tables on the wooden veranda. It's seafood galore because, as well as oysters, there are plateaux de fruits de mer. For £8.50 you get a tour, tasting, glass of Muscadet and bread and butter. Find more information on the L’Huîtrière de Vendée website.
5. Le Duo
This lovely little patisserie is a good stop for breakfast, lunch or dessert. They do good baguettes, too. (60 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, +33 2 51 58 61 15)
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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of April 2018 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.