For the summer of 2010 we stayed at Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, which is a nice seaside resort in the Vendée. Besides the village itself there are a lot of nearby spots to visit as well, like several islands with an unspoiled heritage and many architectural gems. Of course don’t forget to visit the Talmont-Saint-Hilaire Castle which is a medieval fortress that was the residence of king Richard I of England. But most of all, a visit to this region is not complete without having a look at the beach area (La Plage), because the long and sandy beaches stretching along the Atlantic coast are a great place for relaxation and water sports.
The coast of the Vendée extends over 200 km of mostly sandy beaches. Right here at the south west coast you will find Saint Hilaire de Riez, where we stayed for the summer of 2010. Coupled with an exceptionally mild climate, this coastline has long attracted large numbers of overseas and domestic tourists. We stayed at a campsite near the beach, so for us it was quite common to stay some days at the beach and enjoying the day.
The only downside to visiting the beaches is it gets busy at sometimes. But just arrive in time and you will find a parking place for the car and a good spot on the sandy beach anyway. We enjoyed ourselves very much by swimming, writing messages in the sand, have a homemade picnic, threw some frisbee, building sand castles, read some book, did some sun bathing, we looked for seashells, searched for historic bunkers, watched the sunset or just did some daydreaming and relaxation. Just an ordinary day at the beach. Of course, the truth of the matter is that going to the beach is usually fun no matter what you do there because you're getting away from real life and enjoying a scenic travel destination. It's just nice to know that there are plenty of things to do besides suntan and swim while you're there!
Finally I can say that on the beach there are several restaurants and bars where you can sit under a sunshade and enjoy a glass of wine or a full meal. On the landward side of the street are cafes, hotels and restaurants, most of them on the expensive side.
Because we stayed at Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez for the summer we were able to visit more than just one beach. In our second week we ended up at the Beach at Veillon, which is without doubt one of the most attractive beaches I have visited. From some locals we heared that this particular beach has been regularly voted one of the best places to visit in the Vendée. But don’t they say that all to the tourists? LOL
But anyway, this beach is approximately 1.5 kilometres long and includes a sand dune spit that has formed at the estuary of the river Payre. The dunes are rather high and the shelter that this affords has allowed a lagoon to form inside the estuary. This already attractive beach is enhanced by a nature reserve of pine forest and rugged cliffs with beaches facing Veillon. To the north the low rocky coast makes a pleasing backdrop to this idyllic beach. A must visit is my opinion.