RÉAUMUR (Pop: 820)
Reaumur gave its name to physician Rene-Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur, known for his work on insects and inventor of the alcohol thermometer. His house was turned into a science museum. In the village can be found a sophisticated network of underground tunnels linked to the château of Haute-Cour.
House of science
Bought by the grandfather of René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur in the 17th century, the house built in 1576 remained in the family until the death of the scientist in 1757. Every year, as he was chairing the Academy of Science in Paris, he came to spend three months in the house. He made several discoveries in the house. In 1990, the town of Reaumur bought the property and turned it into a science museum in 2002.
POUZAUGES (Pop: 5,530)
Pouzauges is known for food firm Fleury-Michon, the headquarters of which are in town.
Château de Pouzauges
The 12th century fortress is impressive with its 26-metres-high square keep and its fortifications flanked by towers. The castle provides a magnificent panoramic view of the Vendee countryside. Property of the lords of Pouzauges then of the Viscounts of Thouars, the medieval castle was turned into a residence in the 15thcentury by Catherine de Thouars, the bride of infamous baron Gilles de Rais, convicted as a serial killer of children in 1440.
SÈVREMONT (Pop: 6,470)
Sèvremont was created from the fusion of communes Châtelliers-Châteaumur, La Flocellière, La Pommeraie-sur-Sèvre, and Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure.
Keep of Châtelliers-Châteaumur
The keep is what remains of the fortress built in the 12th century over the site of a Gaul defensive site. Held by the barons of Thouars, it was listed as a historical monument in 1979.
LES HERBIERS (Pop; 15,450)
Les Herbiers was the start of a 2011 Tour de France stage won at Mont des Alouettes by Philippe Gilbert. The town also holds each year the Chrono des Herbiers individual time trial, created in 1982 and which gradually replaced the defunct Grand Prix de Nations.
Mont des Alouettes
Just outside Les Herbiers, the legendary hill topping at 231 metres, provides a beautiful panoramic view of Vendee landscapes. On its flanks are a neo-Gothic chapel and three windmills, two of which have been restored. Every summer, several events are held on the hill, including visits of the mills.
Puy du Fou (7 km away)
Created in 1978, the Puy du Fou Cinescenie has become the greatest sound and light show in the world. The show tells the history of France through the lives of a Vendee family from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Some 3,200 volunteers and 1,200 actors work on the production attracting 14,000 spectators every day between May and September. The Puy du Fou Park also retraces French history over 44 ha with the reconstitution of several periods, from the Roman gladiators to a 19th century village or the Musketeers. It has become the 4th biggest theme park in France with a million visitors each year.
The park staged the presentation of Tour de France teams in 1993 and 2011.
Between Montagne-sur-Sevre and Les Herbiers, the steam engine takes passengers along the twisted landscapes of Vendee. Lunch can be taken along the way in old carriages once used on the Orient Express.
TIFFAUGES (Pop: 1,330)
Chateau de Tiffauges is the castle in which Gilles de Rais, who inspired the Bluebeard fairy-tale, is though to have committed atrocities in the 15th century. French Marshal, a former companion of Joan of Arc, ruined by his love of sumptuous parties, Gilles de Rais became an alchemist late in his life and was hung for murders and witchcraft. Abandoned for a long time, the castle now belongs to the Vendee department. It has become a venue for events as well as a museum dedicated to medieval weapons and alchemy.
MONTAIGU (Pop: 5,200)
Château and fortifications
Built by order of king Louis XI, the fortifications are composed of the chateau’s rampart, a monumental stone levee, four gates as well as interior and exterior moats. The 15th century rampart is remarkable for its polygonal shapes and its big regular stones. The levee was used to retain water from the Asson brook and create a protective pond. The rampart was partially destroyed by King Henry III in 1586.
MONTRÉVERD (Pop: 3,580)
Montreverd was created in 2016 from the fusion of villages Mormaison, Saint-André-Treize-Voies and Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon. It is of interest for the sports fan as the birthplace of former French international defender Maxime Bossis, who was born in Saint-André-Treize-Voies in 1955.
LES LUCS-SUR-BOULOGNE (Pop: 3,400)
The place of a massacre during the wars of Vendee in 1794, the town is home to two important memorials of Vendee.
Memorial of Vendee
It pays tribute to the victims of the Infernal Columns during the Wars of Vendee and especially to the victims of the massacre of Lucs-sur-Boulogne. The site vows to be a memorial to all the victims of totalitarianism. This is the reason why the memorial was inaugurated by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in September 1993. It is the start of the Path of Memory finishing at the Petit-Luc chapel in which are engraved the names of all the victims of the 1794 massacres.
Historial of Vendee
Inaugurated in 2006 and remarkable for its innovative architecture, the Historial tells the history of Vendee from the origins to the present day. Like the nearby Memorial od Vendee, it is nestled in the natural space of the Boulogne valley. The first stone was laid in 2003 by then Vendee president Philippe de Villiers and the museum opened in 2006. The museum owns a collection of 20,000 objects, 3,000 of which are on display.
NESMY (Pop: 2,830)
The village is remarkable for its 16th century Renaissance castle, a private property with a park open to the public in the summer. The gardens were designed by Andre Leroy in 1842. In the park, a hydraulic complex of five ponds has been created by the Buehler brothers.
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