For the majority of visitors to Vendee, the greatest attraction will be the golden beaches along the Atlantic coast. If you want to discover more about the region, you may be tempted away from the sand, to some of the inland towns, where you will find other places of interest and an authentic insight into French life.
Roche Sur Yon is the capital of the Vendee region and located just 36km from Les Sables d’Olonne. Whilst it is a commercial centre, there are a number of attractions which may make it an interesting place to visit. Napoleon played a critical role in establishing Roche Sur Yon; he employed the best engineers of the time to design a city of symmetry, with a central parade area and wide avenues. The city remembers his contribution with a statue of him on horseback.
If you love horses, then Le Haras de la Vendee in Roche Sur Yon will be of interest. At this equestrian centre there are opportunities for a ride in a horse and carriage, or horseback riding. You can walk around the stables to see the horses and watch the daily riding displays that are put on for visitors.
Napoleon is not the only statue in the centre of the city. Possibly of far more interest is Les Animaux de la Place which can be found in the main square of Roche Sur Yon. This free attraction consists of a range of mechanical animals, birds and reptiles, which can be controlled via levers around the attraction. The creatures, including crocodiles, flamingos and hippos have been beautifully constructed and are a unique and popular sight.
For those who are keen on natural history, more birds can be found in the Museum of Ornithology, where an extensive collection of stuffed birds are displayed.
If you want to keep the children busy and active for a little longer, there is a large soft play area in the city. Royal kids is designed for children aged 3 -12 years old and includes ball pits, large climbing apparatus, slides, giant building blocks and other equipment. There is a large café area with seating and free WiFi access, so if you have been missing out on technology back at the campsite, you can catch up on what’s going on whilst the children play.
Alternatively, the Circuit Philippe Alliot is a go-karting centre, where drivers of almost all ages are able to take the wheel and race around the circuit.
For something completely different, Prieure de Chassay Grammont is a short drive out of the city. This rural priory was founded by Richard the Lionheart in 1196 and was home to monks until the late 17th Century. Despite being used as farm buildings for many years, the site remains one of France’s best preserved priories and is a place of peace and tranquillity. You can tour the interior of the building from June through to September.
Roche Sur Yon, a short drive from our campsites in Vendee, with plenty to make the journey worthwhile.
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