Monday, 13 July 2015

Vendée Revisited

Bonjour folks.
 I'm just back from a fortnight in France, well I say just, I've been home over a week now but it's taken me that long to recover from the journey!  I'm not used to driving such long distances or on the right but all went well I'm pleased to report. 

We stayed in an old cottage on the outskirts of the extremely picturesque village of Vouvant in rural Vendée

 and I thought it was rather amusing that Pa, the world's fiercest atheist, was reminded of JC ( as he calls him) every day as a Calvaire directly overlooked our accommodation.

We had a great view of the village which has been ranked the 8th prettiest in all of France!

Acanthus is everywhere

In 2007 Vouvant was declared un village de Peintres due to the many artists and sculptors who have set up residence there.  Many have galleries and ateliers and some showcase their work around the community.

Vouvant is the only fortified town in Vendée.  Built at the beginning of the 11th century, the site was chosen by William V Duke of Aquitaine because of it's excellent position.

Vouvant is steeped in history and the village is very proud of the legend of the fairy Mélusine which tells of the beautiful half-woman and half-snake fairy cursed by her mother for bad behaviour.  She was condemned to a sad immortality unless she married a loving but uninquisitive knight who agreed never to see her on a Saturday.  For on that day she had to bathe and watch her beautiful legs turn into a horrid scaly tail and if her husband saw her like this she would never again take human form.

I'm sure you can imagine how it ends... but before it did Melusine created a castle from an apronful of stones and a mouthful of water and of this just the tower remains.  

Mélusine is depicted all around the village....
 and that's her on top of the tower.

 The magnificent church is the focal point of the village not least because it chimes the hour twice, every hour of the day..... you could do without it at 3am! The octagonal bell tower and huge twin doors framed by carved stone arches are remarkable and the crypt is of the 11th century, rediscovered when excavations took place a couple of hundred years ago.

 During our stay we heard the bells of a nuptial mass, so being a nosy bugger I hot-footed it down to the church for a sticky beak.  En route, I came across the going-away vehicle in a side street behind the church.

I arrived just in time as the guests were still mingling outside the church

when someone was despatched to fetch the scooter and the happy couple zoomed off on it.

Also in the village I discovered the outdoors wash house used right up until the 1970's and this reproduction of the grotto at Lourdes inaugurated in 1958.

I never saw anyone there but by the looks of it, quite a few over the years must have been on the receiving end of a miracle!

If you can bear it, I'll be back with more pics of my Vendéen visit soon.


  1. Poor old Melusine! That's some tale. Looks like a beautiful place with plenty going on. Can imagine the bell ringing might take a bit of getting used to...
    Lovely photos. Looking forward to hearing/seeing more! Hopefully a VG or two? x

  2. Please feel free to post and post and post! What a glorious place and I'm loving poor Melusine's tale.
    Love the married couple's getaway vehicle and the deserted grotto. xxx

  3. What a beautiful and interesting place to visit ...

  4. What a stunning place - I'm seeing a friend this weekend who has been living in the Vendee for the last few years, I'll ask her about Vouvant. I love all the architecture and history, and I had actually heard of Melusine, since she was the inspiration for John Keats' poem Lamia (which I love).
    What a cool way to get to your wedding reception - who needs a Rolls, eh?!
    It looks as though the weather was kind, look at that beautiful blue sky.
    (PS. Speaking of blue, I love the dress you sent for my birthday - thanks so much!) xxxx

  5. It looks gorgeous ... another one for the bucket list :0)

  6. What beautiful photos of a stunning part of the world. Thanks for taking me on holiday, and to a wedding!!!

  7. Glad you had a nice trip in Vendée, une région superbe !!!!! J'espère que tu as de bons souvenirs .... bon week end ! bises

  8. This looks like a wonderful vacation! Great photos. Hope you had a blast.

  9. Fab photos, as ever, Fiona - looks like a beautiful little village. I managed to take about half a dozen photos in total of my whole holiday in Greece, and most of those were of food and cocktails!!!

  10. You've made me have a pang for la belle France with all these photos and tales. That willow arch in the water is beautiful. There are so many pretty villages in France and the best bit is they are all different, so you never get bored mooching. I can certainly bear more of your travels. I do love a shrine and that is a very stylish couple there. He looks a bit Montalbano which is never a bad thing. Melusine, this tale sounds rather familiar, I think the White Queen's mother, Jacquetta, was descended from her? Must check... Xxxxx

  11. A tower constructed from an apronfull of stones and a mouthfull of water? Now that's an episode of Grand Designs I would LOVE to see.
    I'm also wondering how the bride straddled that scooter in her tight skirt!
    Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing a flavour of France. I'm off to Norfolk tomorrow and it's set to piss down every day. xx


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