Treasures of the West
From the Gulf of Morbihan to the Vendée coast, the tourist attractions of Atlantic-facing western France are not to be missed.
The historic town of Vannes, once the seat of the Breton parliament, has kept alive the main traces of its rich history. The city walls, with their washing area beside the moat, the cathedral, the Cohue art gallery and the museums are all bordered by flower gardens.
Le Parc du Golfe includes an aquarium, the Gare maritime (the departure point for boat trips around the Gulf of Morbihan), a butterfly park, a bowling alley, and much more.
The ‘living heritage’ service offers guided visits to the old town, for adults or children, by day or night, and on different themes.
Information: Office de Tourisme Vannes, Golfe du Morbihan, Quai Tabarly, Rive droite du port CP23921, 56039, Vannes,
Tel: +33 (0)2 97 47 24 34
Fax: +33 (0)2 97 47 29 49
Opening times: September to June - 09:30-12:30 / 13:30-18:00
Things to do
Cruises and tours of the island
From Le Parc du Golfe, you can take a boat trip around the islands of the Gulf of Morbihan, with or without stop-off points. The islands of Arz, Houat, Hoëdic and Belle-île are all very close to the port of Vannes. The shipping companies can offer you three different options for cruises: a tour of the Gulf of Morbihan, crossings to the islands in the Gulf and the ocean, and dining cruises in the Gulf.
Contact the Vannes Office de Tourisme for names and details of the shipping companies.
Prices: From around €20 to 30 for a tour of the islands, 60 for a dining cruise.
Surrounded by green countryside, La Roche-sur-Yon is the economic and commercial heart of the Vendée. Originally developed by Napoleon, it’s a town that constantly reinvents itself, humming all year round with the rhythm of a variety of different events.
Whether you’re walking or cycling, the region’s charm unfolds along the river. There are many places in the Yon Valley where you’ll enjoy taking the time to wander along little paths leading through unspoilt country.
From the dragonflies of the Maison des Libellules at Chaillé-sous-les-Ormeaux to the Haras de la Vendée equine centre; from the municipal museum of La Roche-sur-Yon to the ornithological museum of La Chaize-le-Vicomte, there are somany places to visit in this town located at the crossroads of the Pays de la Loire.
If you want to breathe sea air, why not go to the northern end of the island of Noirmoutier? There, between the sea and the forest, you’ll find the terraces of ‘Bois de la Chaize’. La Guérinière and Noirmoutier en l’Ȋle are ideal places to try the local
If you love the open sea, let the wind blow you to the beaches of Les Sables d’Olonne, to enjoy the pleasures of the Vendée coast while cycling along one of the many specially created cycle tracks.
Information: Office de Tourisme de La Roche-sur-Yon agglomération, Hôtel de ville, Place Napoléon, 85000 La Roche-sur-Yon. Tel: +33 (0)2 51 36 00 85
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 09.30-12.30 / 13.30-18.00
Things to do
Guided visits to Place Napoléon
These guided visits are organised around the site of this important renovation project. They include the story of the animal sculptures ‘Les Animaux de la Place’ which enliven the works that are transforming the heart of the town. Visits last an hour and are free.
There are two dates available during the competition: Tuesday, 11 June at 18.30 and Saturday, 22 June at 11.30.
Reserve at the Office de Tourisme or by telephone: +33 (0)2 51 36 00 85. Places are limited
The Napoleon circuit
A new heritage tour through La Roche-sur-Yon signposts unusual sights with specially designed street furniture made
up of plaques and boards. The heritage circuit takes you through the historic town centre, including the Napoleonic
Pentagone and the area around the station, and allows you to understand the development of the town from its
foundation in 1804 to the mid-19th century.
There are three routes:
- The original town
- The Napoleonic town
- The extension of the town around the station
Information: Direction Histoire, Archives, Patrimoine (Tel: +33 (0)2 51 47 48 27) or Office de Tourisme (Tel: +33 (0)2 51 36 00 85
Nantes is the 2013 European Green Capital. With its nature walks, historic and industrial heritage, tourist sites within the town and the vineyards, châteaux, footpaths, boat trips and cycle rides, Nantes and its surrounding area is full of attractions to charm residents and visitors.
From Place du Bouffay to the Musée des Beaux Arts, taking in the Chateau, the cathedral and its crypts, including one which is Romanesque dating from the 11th century – and not forgetting the boutiques of the Passage Pommeraye – there is so much to see in the town of the Dukes of Brittany.
Information: Office de Tourisme Nantes Métropole, 9 Rue des États, 44000 Nantes.
Tel: +33 (0)892 46 40 44.
Opening times: All week from 09.00-19.00 (from 26 June to 1 September); all week from 10.00 to18.00 (after 1 September).
Things to do
The Château of the Dukes of Brittany
This completely restored fortified château embodies all the architectural refinement of the court of Brittany. Unusually, it is completely accessible, from the moat to the ramparts. And its museum recounting the history of Nantes, with its ultracontemporary layout, is designed both for adults, experts or not, and for children.
24, 48 or 72-hour passes allow you to discover the city of Nantes and benefit from free entry to tourist attractions, free
public transport and reductions elsewhere.
On sale at the Nantes Métropole Tourist Information Office, Nantes Atlantique airport, in Nantes Métropole partner hotels,
at the Nantes campsite and at the Auberge de Jeunesse.