Another angle to our heritage
The search of our heritage could be summed up as a quest to find what stands out and what you see first. Focused on the marshes, agriculture or just the contemplation of life, the destination Sud Vendée Littoral is not Versailles, but it is probably best like that ! The simplicity is what the area is known for, and it’s the simplicity of the heritage that you should keep an eye out for. The slightest carved stone can tell you a story, the one about the men and women that patiently built everything you see today, if you choose to step aside.
From the fountain, I will not drink the water…
There are many wells and fountains all over the area. When we think we know them all, we stumble upon a small building, just as you are coming out of a village, by the Dive in Saint-Michel-en-L’Herm or by the Beaulieu rocky plateau in Mareuil-sur-Lay. From Thiré on the way to Saint-Martin-Lars, the wash house is a good place to stop off and spend some time there, by the Smagne. By the wash house, there is also an elegant fountain that was designed by the architect August Garnereau in 1864. You can discover a similar fountain in Saint-Michel-en-L’Herm, decorated with bricks and facing the lake. In Bessay or Sainte-Hermine, you can enjoy nice walks near other wash-houses. Some of them were saved a few years ago, and they now witness the different activities from the rural areas.
Modern architecture and Art-deco
People learnt a lot from the architecture in the 20th century about the different artistic movements. Not far from the Luçon cathedral, the concrete water tower is known to many. On the way to les Sables-d’Olonne, you can admire the “hôtel des Postes” built in 1938. The architect from Nantes, Gabriel Guchet offered to the episcopal town, a key building in the art-deco architecture in the area. In Saint-Michel-en-l’Herm and l’Aiguillon-sur-Mer, the old post offices still have their charming ceramic and mosaic facades. The developed coastline is full of architectural surprises. Walkers who aren’t afraid to go off their tracks could stumble upon seaside towns like La Faute-sur-Mer for example. Rue de l’Océan and rue du Docteur-Pigeanne have many little houses that remind us of modest holiday homes for workers from the area.
It is easy to point our the outstanding presence of religious heritage in each village. In the Sud Vendée Littoral, churches are usually quite simple. To look at the heritage differently means taking into account religious buildings that are more recent. In l’Aiguillon-sur-Mer, l’Île-d’Elle, Sainte-Hermine or Vouillé-les-Marais, the neoclassical movement stands out. This movement is the most present in the South Vendée rather than anywhere else in the region It refers to the Antiquity and represented the modernity of the 19th century. Inspired by the new town La Roche-sur-Yon, this bright architecture came to this area thanks to the architect Jean-Firmin Lévêque. Simple, neoclassical churches express the development of the area during the 19th century.
Far from just having heritage that dates back centuries, you can also admire contemporary art in the different buildings and landscapes. Along the A83, the Portes de la Vallée du Lay were carved by Ivan Theimer and break up the monotonous aspect of the motorway. In another field, the contemporary ornaments in the Luçon Cathedral were made by the goldsmith Goudji. In Saint-Martin-Lars-en-Sainte-Hermine, there are painted stain glass windows that ornament the restored church. Of course we could talk about the old stain glass windows, the Roman vestige, castles ect… but to see the heritage from another perspective means allowing yourself to be surprised on your journey through the area. Even the trees have a special heritage, that’s what Eric Rohmer understood when he installed cameras in Saint-Juire-Champgillon.
To discover more treasures, check out the photo gallery from the passionate William CHEVILLON, our heritage expert !