If you've booked a holiday to the Vendee and are searching for a great day out while you're there, look no further than Fontenay-le-Comte - one of the prettiest towns in France. This Renaissance town and former port is a real joy to explore, especially as it's full of historical buildings.
What's more, this was actually once the capital of the Vendee region - and the story of how it lost this status is a dramatic one. In the 18th century, the town became one of the seats of rebellious forces - and this rebellion led to the Vendeen wars. Later, Napoleon decided that Fontenay-le-Comte should no longer be capital, it being too troublesome, and instead created La Roche-sur-Yon to take its place.
While it no longer has its status as a capital, there are loads of great things to see and do in this fascinating corner of the Vendee. Being such a historical place, it has plenty of interesting architecture to see, and the best place to start is at the ruins of the walled medieval castle.
These lie in the heart of the town. Sadly, there isn't much of the castle left, but you can see a tower, gate and some of the ramparts. From here, you can explore the historical centre of town, which sits around the outside of the castle and, thanks to building restrictions, still has the feel of bygone years. Much of this area dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, so expect to see plenty of old buildings, including charming wooden-framed houses, as well as large squares.
Life in Fontenay-le-Comte isn't all about the past, though - surrounding the old part of the town in the modern area, and this is filled with great shops, places to eat, cinemas and an arts centre. So, this lovely town is a great choice for a fun, varied day out - especially if you're keen to get to know more about the Vendee's history.
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