With a huge variety of landscapes on offer from verdant farmland to ethereal wetlands and stretches of grand coastline, Vendée and Charente plays host to some fantastic activities whether you’re travelling with friends as a group, your family or even if it’s just the two of you. Our range of beautiful luxury french chateaux make the perfect base to explore from, and to make things even easier we’ve listed what we reckon are the best things to do in Vendée & Charente the you and your group can enjoy.
1. Pedal together with Bike Hire Direct
Cycling in this part of France is always a good idea – what better way is there for your group to take in the gorgeous scenery? Bike Hire Direct will take the hassle out of large-group logistics by dropping the bicycles direct to your villa so you can all set out together from there. Cycle along the pine-backed Atlantic coastal route to see alluring beaches, port towns and oyster farms, or follow the green routes, which are open to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, but not to motorized vehicles. These will bring you further inland to traditional villages, the hill-covered countryside and the Charente River.
Book: Online at Bike Hire Direct
Location: Le Bourg, 16130 Juillac-le-Coq, France
2. Ride the Vélorail
One of the most pleasurable ways to explore as a group is on the pedal-powered carriages of the Vélorail, which run along an old railway track that leads past scenic viaducts, grassland, rivers and forest. Divvy your group up into five-person teams and take on the 18-kilometre round trip between Confolens and Manot, or – if you think your legs are up for it – extend the route even longer to Roumazière. Have the fittest folk among you take the front two seats as this is where the pedals are found. They can power the trolley, while those in the back three seats simply sit and soak up the scenery.
Book: Call +33 5 45 71 16 64
Location: La Gare, Avenue Gambetta, Confolens, 16500
3. Captain your own boat with Les Bateaux Rouges
Impress your fellow holiday-goers by taking them down the Charente River on a self-driven boat excursion. You don’t need a boating license nor any prior experience, just a willingness to take the helm. You’ll be briefed on how to steer the vessel and shown which route you should follow. After that, you’re on your own captain! If you think you group would prefer something a little more physical than a lazy trip up the meandering waterway, opt for a pedal-boat excursion instead.
Book: Call 06 40 32 12 32
Location: Les Bateaux Rouges Port L’Houmeau, Boulevard Besson Bey 16000, Angoulême
4. Go hiking with La Route de Sel
Any visitors to the Vendée find it hard to tear themselves away from the towel, but those who are willing to leave the beach behind will discover an ancient and utterly unspoiled landscape at the salt marshes of Marais Breton Vendéen. With La Route de Sel, you can navigate the wetlands’ network of small reed-fringed canals by canoe, spotting wading birds as you float along. Of particular note are the sunrise and night-time excursions. During these, you can slip silently along the water at a time when the quality of light and the scenery are extra enchanting. Group excursions can be customized to suit your particular preferences, and can include mid-way picnic or barbecue stops to refuel you for the second leg of your adventure.
Book: Call +33 6 40 32 12 32
Location: 49 Rue de Verdun 85300, Sallertaine
5. Whiz around Angouleme with Mobilboard
There are few holiday activities as likely to get you and your friends giggling than a group ride-out on Segways. These motorised two-wheel vehicles are easy to ride and intuitive, responding to the body movements of the driver. After a briefing on how to use your vehicle for the day, your guide will lead you all out for a city tour of Angoulême, the capital of the Charente region. You can speed around the hilly city without so much as breaking a sweat, admiring the incredible assortment of historical architecture as well as the colourful street art and murals that are splashed across town, as you go.
Book: Online Mobilboard
Location: 84, rue de Limoges 16000, Angoulême
6. Cruise around Marais Poitevin with Embarcadère Cardinaud
For a true taste of languid, slow-paced rural life, arrange to visit the Marais Poitevin – a watery world of wetlands threaded by a web of man-made waterways. This area has been given the sobriquet Green Venice thanks to its duckweed-covered canals, which give off an emerald hue. Navigating the web-like waterways can be a mission, so leave it to the professionals at Embarcadère Cardinaud. Not only will they carry your group around by boat, but they’ll also explain the history and ecology of the area, pointing out any interesting sights and leading you past the prettiest little villages. If you are keen to go it alone, they’ll also rent you canoes and give you a map with which to explore.
Book: Call 05 49 35 90 47
Location: Avenue de la Repentie aux portes de Coulon 79460, Magne
7. Go sand Yachting with Char a Voile
If you love the idea of salt air and speed but find yourself hindered by the notoriously awful mal de mer (seasickness), Char a Voile offer a brilliant alternative: land yachting. You might never have heard of land yachting, but these wind-driven three-wheeled vehicles are thought to have existed in some form since ancient Egyptian times. They are known for their high speeds and can reach more than three times the speed of wind, but – in the safe hands of an expert instructor – you don’t have to worry about tearing off; they’ll help you try it out at safe, less scary speeds.
Book: Call 06 66 06 51 79 or book online at Oleron Charavoile
Location: 2C rue de Bel Air 17480, Le Château d’Oléron
Any more questions, or looking for somewhere to stay? Our concierge team is on hand to help whatever your query. Fancy doing a bit more research yourself? You’ll find our blog is full of handy tips and travel inspiration, so why not take a look at other posts? You might find more fun things to do, or discover a romantic trip to our best venues for weddings in France. And since you’re looking within the French region, why not check our family friendly activities or see our 10 best winter holidays in France.