With bountiful seas and rich agricultural land in spades, Vendée and Charente are two regions that have loads to offer even the pickiest foodie. With seafood to sample and some of the best rustic French cookery out there, the choice on offer is almost as impressive as the cooking itself. Don’t believe us? Check out the best foodie experiences in Vendée & Charente below, and if you need a place to stay our luxury chateaux in France are the ideal place to put your feet up after a day’s fine dining.
1. Chez Cartier, Condéon
Do you know your balti from your bhuna, madras from masala? Brush up on your Indian cooking skills during a workshop with Chef Reza Mahammad, the man behind the long-standing and well-respected London restaurant, the Star of India. Mahammad himself will lead the class, which takes place in a converted cognac distillery that now functions as a cookery school. Under his direction and guidance, participants will whip up a delicious three-course Indian meal, which they will then have the pleasure of eating.
Location: Chez Cartier, Condeon 16360
Book: Email at email@example.com
2. La Roulotte, Les Sables-d’Olonne
This fish-and-chips specialists makes use of Vendée’s bounty of fresh seafood to serve up steaming portions of that beloved British seaside staple: fish and chips. They serve locally sourced battered hake – so fresh it’s only just stopped wriggling – from a van by the quayside, so you can tuck in to the piping hot portion as you look out over the water. It’s not hard to find, but if you do get lost, just follow the mouth-watering smell wafting from the van.
Location: La roulotte Quai Franqueville 85100 Les Sables d’Olonne
Book: No need to book just show up!
3. Domaine Saint-Nicolas, Brem-sur-Mer/ L’Ile-d’Olonne
It would be a shame to leave southwest France without sampling the unsung wines of the Fiefs Vendéens appellation. One of the best-known vineyards in the area is Domaine Saint-Nicolas, who produce outstanding organic, biodynamic vintages. Sip a few samples at their Brem-sur-Mer estate or at their L’Ile-d’Olonne winery, before purchasing a bottle of two to be savoured with friends and family back in the villa.
Location:11, rue des Vallées 85470 Brem-sur-Mer
Book: No need to book just show up!
4. Bistro Yonnais, La Roche-sur-Yon
This contemporary bistro has a reputation for serving up excellent value French classics, such as coquilles St-Jacques (scallops) and entrecôte de bœuf with a choice of three pepper, butter or blue cheese sauce. If the weather allows for it, sit out on the terrace where plants and greenery create a garden-style feel.
Location: 117 bd. Aristide Briand 85000 La Roche sur Yon
Book: Call +33 2 51 06 94 26
5. Les Flots, La Rochelle
Les Flots sits prettily on La Rochelle’s ancient port – a fantastic setting surely envied by all the other restaurateurs in town. The tasteful décor is an attractive blend of old and new, with traditional features, such as an old fireplace, complemented by more modern furnishings. Seafood is the order of the day here, and the menu features all kinds of varieties, from oysters, whelks and crab to cooked Brittany lobster and fresh sole.
Location: 1 rue de la Chaîne 17000 La Rochelle
6. Restaurant Thierry Drapeau, Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon
This two Michelin-star restaurant is worth splurging on. Located in a rustic yet chic restored manor house with whitewashed walls and ceiling rafters, this restaurant enjoys a historic setting on a site where the Royalists and Republicans clashed during the War in the Vendée. The menu, which changes regularly depending on the season and availability of produce, is always inventive and – unlike other overly haughty dining establishments – kids are very much welcome here. There is even a special menu designed to appeal to developing palates, perfect for young foodies in the making.
Location: Château de la Chabotterie, 85260 Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon, France
Book: Call-+33 2 51 40 00 03 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Restaurant La Ruelle, Angouleme
The rough-hewn stone walls and light wood ceiling beams add to the cosy, intimate ambiance at this highly rated restaurant. It’s frequently selected by critics and diners as the finest restaurant in Angoulême. A meal here, which might include dishes such as pan fried foie gras, lobster with lemongrass and sweetbread with truffles and seasonal vegetables, is always a memorable experience.
Location:6 Rue Des Trois Notre-Dame 16000 Angouleme.
Book: Call +33 5 45 95 15 19
8. La Marine, Ile de Noirmoutier
Eschewing the current trend for rustic chic, this fine-dining restaurant located on the island of Noirmoutier, opts instead for a more modern and mostly monochrome décor. The fishing harbour is just a stone’s throw away from its door, so naturally seafood features strongly on the menu, while vegetables from the restaurant’s own garden also make an appearance. This is Michelin-star dining and is priced accordingly; should you want a more affordable sampling of Chef Alexandre Couillon’s food, visit his La Table d’Elise bistro next door.
Price: Set Menus starting from €68
Location: 5 Rue Marie Lemonnier 85330 Noirmoutier en ile
Book: Call +33 2 51 39 23 09
9. Camus, Cognac
If you fancy yourself a bit of a budding cognac connoisseur, you’ll know that cognac is, much like champagne, regulated by stringent laws that say it can only be made in the Charente and Charente-Maritime regions. While you’re here, you can visit some of these famous producers, such as the family-owned Camus distillery. During a Camus workshop, you’ll learn about the history of the double-distilled grape-based drink (which is known in France as ‘eau du vie’ – literally ‘water of life’) as well as tasting it for yourself. You might even bring a bottle back to the villa for after-dinner drinks.
Location: 29 rue Marguerite de Navarre 16100 Cognac
Book: Call +33 5 45 32 72 96 or email email@example.com
10. Hine, Cognac
No doubt you’ve heard of Hennessy, Remy Martin and Courvoisier, but there is no better place to discover lesser-known cognac brands than at their home here in Charente. Hine, for instance, is one of the oldest houses in the region. It was founded in 1763 and is known for producing extremely refined and elegant blends. This is a boutique distillery and tours here are an intimate and enlightening affair. They are by appointment only so be sure to call and arrange in advance.
Location: 16 Quai de l’Orangerie, 16200 Jarnac
Book: Call +33 5 45 35 59 59
If you’re feeling tempted with the thought of all that deliciousness, why not let our friendly concierge team help find you the perfect place to stay? Just let them know what you’re looking for and they’ll do all the legwork for you! Check out other posts too, which is full of handy travel tips and holiday inspiration. So if this hasn’t got your stomach rumbling, there’s more foodie experiences that you can scroll through. You can also find our pick of the best family friendly activities in Vendée & Charente, and if you’re travelling with friends we’ve even listed best things to do in Vendée & Charente.