Noted as being the second most important tourist county in France, the Vendée boasts both exceptionally wide white sandy beaches along the coast and further inland the 'bocage' - the wooded countryside. In the north west and the south of the Vendée and sheltered by the coastal dunes, lie the wetlands of the Marais Breton and the Marais Poitevin - a veritable environmental paradise.
The area is an architectural heritage and has been magnificently preserved or restored and bears witness to its rich past; from prehistoric dolmens to the tragic Vendée wars which are recounted by the 'Cinéscenie' at the historic theme park 'Le Puy du Fou'.
Luçon is situated in the south west of the county a short distance from La Rochelle (45 minutes) and on the perimeter of the Marais Poitevin.
This part of the coast from La Faute-sur-mer (10 mins) to Les Sables d'Olonne (30 mins) is called the 'light' coast - 'Côte de la Lumière' and is a must-see during your visit.
Luçon, or more precisely, the 'Pictons' including the Baie de l'Aiguillon, is an area which was crafted from the sea by men. The area covers a part of the former gulf of the same name.
Saint Denis-du-Payré is part of the Marais Poitevin with a population of 340 inhabitants. There's lots to see including the rich and diverse surrounding countryside, the church and the bird reserve.
Formerly located on one end of a penisula and the most elevated village in the area, Saint Denis-du-Payré boasts an eleventh century church. (Temporarily closed for restoration).
The Saint Denis nature reserve was awarded the 'National Nature Reserve' classification in 1976 with the help of the visionary environmentalist Michel Brosselin and is a site protecting above all, the flora and fauna and which cover the 207 hectares of Saint Denis' common land. There are 272 different species of birds which visit the reserve.
Buchenois is set in the countryside between the D44 and D60 roads and 2km from the centre of Saint Denis-du-Payré. Buchenois is also on the walking route the 'Saint Denisolais' and is accessed via a quiet lane.
Formerly a farmhouse, Buchenois has been renovated to focus on tourism. It is set in a peaceful and welcoming traditional rural setting midway between the bocage and the coast and surrounded by the villages of Saint Denis-du-Payré, Lairoux and their common lands.
Buchenois is a real 'bird paradise' - with its proximity to the nature reserve at Saint Denis-du-Payré and the remoteness of the estate it attracts storks, herons, buzzards, black kites, green woodpeckers, hoopoes, lapwings and owls. Other notoriously secretive mammals such as roe deer, foxes and badgers can be also seen...
...Such an easy destination but so difficult to leave...!
Nowadays the rich agricultural land called 'La Baie de l'Aiguillon' (formerly the 'Golfe des Pictons') extends over the area which has become known as the 'Pays Né de la Mer' - 'born from the sea'. As an area renouned for its 'eco-tourism' and its bird migratory routes it attracts professional and amateur ornithologists.
In 10,000 BC the 'Golfe des Pictons' was created after the sea claimed back the landmass during a sudden sea swell. Over time the slow-moving water began to silt up the bay. At this time La Tranche-sur-mer and La Faute-sur-mer were underwater. Saint Michel en l'Herm, Grues, Triaize, Champagné, Moreilles, Chaillé, Vouillé, l'Ile d'Elle, Marans, Charron... were all islands. Saint Denis, Chasnais, Luçon, Nalliers, Le Langon, Maillezais were on the coast.
At the end of the tenth century Benedictine monks from the neighbouring abbeys at Maillezais, Nieul, St Michel and Luçon started the difficult task of developing the silt-incrusted area by digging canals and building sluice gates and retaining seawalls. The work of improving the drainage continued up until the reign of Napoleon III in the 1850's.
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