The Pays of Fontenay-le-Comte in the south of the département or county of The Vendée is proud to claim its fame as a remarkable territory. Treat yourself to an exceptional break in its plains and marshland, enjoy pleasure and delight discovering its culture and recreation facilities.
The Vendée is one of the sunniest départments of France. In 2014 the annual amount of sunshine recorded was about 2000 hours for La Roche-sur-Yon and even 2300 hours along the coast. And that’s why it is called “The Coast of Light” : it gets as much sunshine as Les Landes and the Basque country much further south!
With 250 kms of coastline and 140 km of beaches, the Vendée offers endless opportunities to enjoy sports and leisure activities. Get your fill of spills and thrills with water activities to suit every taste and all ages!
Between the rolling hills of the North and the marshland of the South lies the Vendée plains between Luçon and Fontenay-le-Comte. Here the countryside is dotted with small market towns and vast areas of cereal crops are cultivated on the limestone soil. Here too can be found the remarkable natural heritage of the Forest of Mervant-Vouvant. This public domain crossed by the rivers La Mère and La Vendée, covers an area of 5000 ha.of varied landscapes: steep slopes, streams and rivers, valleys and lakes, ancient oak trees amidst dense and diverse vegetation make it a walker’s paradise!
A MILD AND SUNNY CLIMATE
According to the figures of the French Weather Office, The Vendée enjoys the same amount of sunshine as the Mediterranean/South of France and explains its reputation “Vendéé Coast of Light”. The Vendée is the ideal place for your next holiday or weekend!
ACTIVITIES TO SUIT EVERYBODY
A wide variety of activities will enable you to discover, or rediscover, the pleasure of walking, hiking, and cycling. The Vendée offers a network of more than 1000 kms of cycling tracks, but you can also enjoy water sports and cultural visits ……
GASTRONOMY BETWEEN LAND AND SEA
The many specialties of The Vendée will delight your taste buds: seafood and fresh fish, renowned local produce of the Vendée fiefs such as mogette beans, Préfou garlic bread, Brioche, smoked Vendée ham …… not forgetting Starred and Bib Gourmand restaurants ever more numerous in The Vendée.
FONTENAY OFFERS PLENTY OF PLACES TO ENJOY SPORTING AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES
Located in the south of The Vendée, discover the unspoilt area of the Marais Poitevin. The natural regional park is known for its unique landscapes that stretch along the Sèvre-Niortaise river, commonly called The Green Venice (“La Venise Verte”). By boat, by bike, on foot, on horseback – choose your favourite means of transport to admire the charms of this beautiful place!
Take the traditional flat boat of the marshes to glide along the creeks and waterways. Nature lovers will delight in the ecological wealth of the second largest wetland in France. Between wet and dried marshland choose the Marais Poitevin for your holiday with family or friends!
For those who renjoy peace and calm the Parcabout or the Donjon des Cimes, in the heart of the town in Baron Park where the fortified castle used to be, has been recently renovated.
Enjoy a leisurely walk in the park maintained by a small herd of goats in residence, then go up to the Parcabout: 2000m² of netting at varying level have been suspended among the trees over 9m high. it’s open to everybody over 4 years of age! Another play area caters for children between 2 and 4. If adventure doesn’t appeal to you, enjoy a relaxing moment sunbathing, in the playground and picnic area, or at the refreshment bar ….
WIFI facilities and toilets are on site. Open from April to October from 2.30 pm to 730 pm, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and every day during the school holidays.
The Fontenay Pôle 85 track, accredited by th e FFSA (the French Federation of Automobile Sports) is open to associations and clubs, cars and bikes, with infrastructure for meetings, gatherings, training and easy running …….Open every week-day, closed from mid-December to mid-January
Karting Fontenay Pôle 85 an outdoor circuit, supervised by qualified instructors, for your enjoyment and to test your driving skills, Open from March to November, opening times depending on the season.
The Océanide swimming complex, 3 pools : a fun pool, a training pool and an outdoor pool with deck-chairs, a lawn area, a paddling pool, and a 39m long slide. There is also a relaxation area with sauna, hamman, 2 jacuzzis, a solarium and a resting room. Open all year round.
Canoe Kayak: CKS Get to know or improve your skills on the Vendée river. You can rent a canoe and do your own thing, or take a lesson with a qualified instructor. Outings are organized during the summer and you can even make a special request!
FONTENAY LE COMTE: city of culture
All year round, Fontenay offers inhabitants and tourists alike, a rich and varied cultural agenda.
Different public venues host cultural events, exhibitions, festivals …. our municipal theatre, concert halls, Notre Dame and St. Jean churches, open-air venues …
Classical music lovers won’t miss “La Folle Journée” organized by the Pays de Loire region. “Le Printemps des Cordes” at the end of March, highlights string intruments, “Le Festival Des Harmonies” in March centres around orchestral music, choirs are honoured in ”Le Festival des Chants Sacrés”
…. the stage is not forgotten …. In July, the renowned Festival de Terre Neuve takes place in the park of the Château de Terre Neuve, and the “Festival Off” in the Municipal Theatre of the town. The Literary Festival takes place in November, and Municipal Cultural Department programmes many other concerts, shows and plays throughout the year.
In March every year, the cinema La Renaissance programmes the Film Festival of Fontenay-le-Comte, organized by the Association Kinozoom, founder of the Ciné Club. In summer tourists and residents of the town enjoy the much appreciaterd streets arts festival,“Le Richochets”. Every Wednesday and Friday, for six weeks in July and August, gardens, lanes and alleys of Fontenay are opened … and the street artists delight us with acrobatics, and have us dance and sing and dream!
The traditional Biennial of Whit week-end takes place on even-numbered years. Its origins date back to the end of the 19th century when it was called “Calcavcade” then, before World War II, it became“The Flower Festival” Since its revival, it has been called Le Bienniale. It’s three days of fun and amusement! For six months, more than one million paper flowers are made out of crêpe paper and glued together by volonteers. 400 costumed characters, 13 carts decorated by the 6 neighbourhoods of the town, 700 volunteers, 5 guest countries and 50 000 spectators take part in this festival! Each neighbourhood of the town elects its Viscountess and then the Countess who will reign over the festivities! For three days the town dons and parades in its festival attire of colours, music and flowers.
Fontenay-le-Comte, former capital of the Lower Poitou, today City of Art and History, is the architectural gem of The Vendée.
A medieval and Renaissance city, the town offers varied and original examples of the past with its beautiful facades, its parks and squares which you can enjoy as you follow the the heritage sightseeing trail by yourself or you can take a passionate guided tour that will enable you to discover this unique and protected sector of Vendée.
The Château de Terreneuve, the historical monument built by Nicolas RAPIN in the 16th century was refurbished in the 19th century by the famous engraver Octave de Rochebrune. Admire the alchemical chimney, the coffered ceilings of carved stone, the wainscotting which comes from the Château de Chambord, the guilded suns from the chambers of King Louis XIV …..Paintings, furniture, collecions and extrvagant garments from the 17th and 18th centuries are also on display. Open every day from May to September, from 9.30 am to 12.15 pm and from 2 pm to 6.45 pm. Does not close for lunch in July and August.
The Museum. Throughout the year the Museum stages exhibitions and organizes guided tours. Its artefacts bear witness to the intellectual effervescence of the town since the Renaissance. Collections of Gallo-Roman glasswork, of Vendée furniture and of fine art are displayed. Don’t hesitate to come and visit here to enjoy the many treasures of The Vendée! Open all year. From 1st April to 30th September and during the Autumn and Winter school holidays: from Tuesday to Sunday from 2 pm to 6 pm. From October to March on Wesnesdays from 2 pm to 6 pm.
A walking tour to discover Fontenay’s historic sites.
If, in whatever order you like, you follow the 42 signs and notices dotted throughout the historic part of the town, you will find out about its past: Rue des Loges with the timber-framed house, Maison Millepertuis, Place Belliard and its arcaded townhouses, Notre Dame Church with its crypt, the Municipal Museum, the Hotel Gobin, the Quatre Tias fountain, emblem of the city, where the motto of François I, is sculpted in Latin on its facade. He was the king who called Fontenay-le-Comte “….. source jaillissante de Beaux Esprits” Further up, on the terrace of Parc Baron, there is a marvellous view of the town!