Hiking in the Vendée: circuits, routes and tips

La Barre-de-Monts
Hiking in the Vendée: ...

Do you want to walk and hike in the Vendée? This department has nearly 2,500 km of trails, to the delight of hikers. It is a rather flat ground which lends itself well to walking.

The Vendée coastal paths are very popular because they border very long beaches, cross the dune cordon and walk through small pine and beech forests. An idyllic setting for hiking in the Vendée. Without forgetting the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier which offer you a large bowl of sea air and a guaranteed change of scenery! Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the marshes: the Marais Breton Vendéen (fr) or the Marais Poitevin (fr). Finally, for the more athletic, it is in the northeast of the department, in the Haut-Bocage Vendéen (fr) that you have to go to climb a little. We have selected the coolest routes for you, for young and old alike. Put on your walking shoes, let's go hiking in the Vendée!


Photos of the article © Guide de la Vendée


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The unmissable Great Hikes in Vendée

The Grande Randonnée path called the GR8 runs along the coast and the Vendée beaches for 221 km! This coastal path is historically the “ customs path ”. It was used by State agents of the 1st Republic, at the end of the 18th century, during the Revolution, and until the early 19th century, to track down the smugglers. At that time, the English took advantage of the political unrest to illegally import products into France and thus avoid very high taxes. Today, this coastal path has become the favorite of Vendée hikers, for its exceptional length and for its viewpoints. Here are the main stages of the course:

  • The beautiful beaches as far as the eye can see from Bouin to Notre-Dame-du-Mont and the view of Noirmoutier
  • The Breton Vendée Marsh
  • The national forest of the Pays de Monts
  • The Remarkable Natural Site of the Grande Corniche
  • The quays of the Port de la Vie in Saint-Gilles-de-Croix
  • The banks of the LeJaunay river
  • The Bird Observatory of the Ile d'Olonne
  • Les Sables-d'Olonne, its Nouch corniche, its Dombret basin and its " Petite Jetée "
  • La Rochepie, the Puits d'Enfer, the Anse du Vieux Moulin and the Anse aux Moines, the Pointe de la Cayola and its bay
  • The mouth of the Payré
  • And to finish the seaside resort of Tranche-sur-Mer, nicknamed the “ little California Vendée

    Notre Dame de Mont
    Hiking in Notre-Dame-de-Mont


    To cross the Vendée, you can take the GR364 from Jard-sur-Mer on the coast, to Puy-de-Serre, in Deux-Sèvres. It starts near the Observatoire des Marais. You will pass in front of the alignment of menhirs of La Pierre and the dolmens of Savatole. You will follow many streams, the Graon lake, the Yon river, the lake and the Marillet dam... You will climb the Pierre Blanche cliff to see the Mother flow...


    The Vendée Corniche in Saint-Hillaire de Riez

    The Vendée Corniche in Saint-Hilaire de Riez

    The GR80 goes around the island of Yeu. There is barely 30 km to cover on the old customs path. It is a fantastic and wild ride, between pine woods, sandy beaches and cliffs. You can leave directly from Port-Joinville. On the road, you will see beautiful panoramas, especially on the many points, the islets, the Gouffre de l'Enfer and the Anse des Fontaines. You will appreciate the maritime heritage: the Old Castle, the port of La Meule, the Corbeaux lighthouse… You can take breaks and eat at the edge of the beautiful beaches of the island.


    On the FF Randonnée website, you will find maps of the GRs of Vendée (fr).



    Go around the island of Yeu on foot

    Going around the island of Yeu on foot, a good idea

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    Other coastal and island trails

    There are many other trails nearby along the coast or in the Vendée islands. Inland, yet so close to the coast, you could stroll through the state forests of the Pays de Monts and d'Olonne. The Destination Vendée Grand Littoral site (fr) offers hikes depending on the municipality.

    On the island of Yeu, 5 paths (trails) allow you to discover the island and its different aspects. The path of the marshes crosses the salt marshes, that of the Croix, of the Gorelle… The path of Noiroit takes you through the woods of the island and has some archaeological surprises in store for you. The Kreuzland path takes you to the wild coast, between steep rocks and gentle dunes. The path of Oyes takes you on the traces of its history: castle, lighthouse, soda oven. The path of the Meule is more oriented towards its heritage, its villages with traditional houses, its port...

    In Noirmoutier-en-île, there are also 5 themed walks: the salt marshes, the mills, on the gates of the island, its two access roads, the villages and its hollyhocks, in the footsteps of the Jacobsen family, who worked to drain the marshes and therefore to the economic development of the island. On the Noirmoutier tourist office website, there are maps, detailed itineraries and photos.


    Noirmoutier

    In Noirmoutier, the hike often ends on the beach!

    Jacobsen Pier Noirmoutier
    Jacobsen Noirmoutier jetty, on foot or by bike!

    Hiking in the marshes in Vendée

    The Marais Breton Vendéen is an immense network of canals which stretches along the coast, from Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez to Moutier-en-Rets, in Loire-Atlantique, and which enters inland until Challans. A multitude of small paths cross these marshy meadows. You will discover an original ecosystem, with typical flora and fauna. The tourist office shows you the routes in the Pays de Saint-Jean-de-Monts (fr).

    The Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park covers a vast territory straddling Vendée, Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime. It occupies a good place in Vendée, with 50 municipalities integrated into the Park, out of the 89 it totals. This “ green Venice ” is made up of a so-called “ wet ” marsh and a “ dried up ” marsh. The wet marsh allows you to navigate the canals, aboard pretty traditional boats pushed with a pigouille. The parched marsh is a rural environment, crisscrossed with charming little paths. You will find all the information you need in the Hiking section of the Sud Vendée Marais Poitevin Tourist Office website.


    Sallertaine in the Marais Breton Vendéen

    Sallertaine in the Marais Breton Vendéen

    Mallezais Marais Poitevin
    Mallezais, in the Marais Poitevin, you can see beautiful things walking along the canals, here the Abbey of Mallezais

    Explore the Haut-Bocage of the Vendée

    From the center of Vendée, in the “ Bocage ”, the hike becomes more sporty. Then, going north-east, in what is called the “ Haut-Bocage ”, climbers will start to have fun with more significant differences in height. For more details on the routes, the Vendée department provides you with its Departmental Plan for Walks and Hikes (PDIPR). It represents 2,500 km of Walks and Hikes, on 248 trails. Among them, 49 are located in the Bocage and 13 in the Haut-Bocage.


    The Vendée Rando card can be downloaded here (fr).


    Walk in Mallièvre

    Walk in Mallièvre, in the Haut-Bocage Vendéen

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    We have reached the end of our hiking guide in the Vendée and all we have to do is wish you wonderful walks!


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