La Guyonniere, Vendee, France
After a long drive from Jugon les Lacs, (167 miles) we arrived at our second rally site, Village De La Guyonniere, in the Vendee region. We were soon directed to our pitches where we quickly set up camp. This site is large with plenty to do and has a Snack bar, Restaurant, Shop, water park and, most importantly, a bar and happy hour each evening with music and entertainment (many of our group could be found here every night). The camp site is owned by a Dutch family, the Father Pierre and his two sons Thys and Piet who have been running the site for 30 years.
The first evening we all congregated in the restaurant, where we were greeted by Thys and Piet. They gave us a warm welcome and then proceeded to serve our welcome meal, three courses with wine and coffee. The food was excellent, very tasty, and service was very good.
The following day we took a coach to the vineyard Saint Nicholas where they grow and produce organic biodynamic wine, working with nature. After a talk on how they grow, produce and bottle their wine, we had a guided tour around the vines and wine presses.
Then came the serious business of tasting their wines along with a selection of Hor d'ouevres and Appetizers, after which we were free to buy what ever wine we wanted. I believe we all left having sampled many different wines, a little light headed and having spent quite a few of our precious euros.
Later that evening we all had a get together outside Ray and Carol’s motorhome. Several folks were planning a bike ride to the coast the following day, to Bretignolles sur Mer. After much discussion, and looking at the route they would take over several glasses of wine, it was decided by eight of them that they would head out around 10.30 the following morning on, allegedly, a 15-16 mile round trip. Sensibly, I had decided to have a quiet time back at the camp with few glasses of red wine.
Eight intrepid explorers started out; Ray, Carol, Ian, Sharon, Robert, Graham, Heather & Andy, but apparently they came across one or two problems. They started off on the road, then took a rough uphill track causing Sharon to take a tumble. Then, not to be left out, Carol managed to topple off a couple of times. Fortunately there were no injuries.
Upon arriving at Bretignolles there were no signs of the beach, so two cyclists decided to go off searching in different directions, leaving the rest to stand on a street corner waiting and wondering where they were. Ray decided to go looking for them. Once they were all together and at the beach, it was time for refreshments before starting the ride back.
Distance calculation was somewhat out. Overall it was a staggering 26 miles. Luckily, all the batteries on the electric bikes lasted the distance. Robert's & Graham's were getting low on power but held out to get them safely back.
The next morning we took a coach trip to a lovely seaside resort with a magnificent beach, Les Sables D’Olonne. Heather, Andy, Robert and I took a stroll along it; it was relaxing and beautiful. A long promenade Le Remblai runs along the beach with a multitude of restaurants and cafes. Like several of the group, as we were only there for three hours, we decided to forego the guided tour of the old town and look around ourselves.
We walked along the river and found that every four years the town hosts the departure of the Vendee Globe, single handed, round-the-world yacht race; non-stop without assistance. The plaques all along the harbour wall show the time line of the winners.
Those on the guided tour were shown around the old town with it's narrow streets and fishermen's cottages of L’ile De Penotte, the oldest quarter of the old town.
We went on to La Chaume, the old fishing quarter and yachting port. All day long, a ferry travels from one side to the other side of the river. Now, a quick snack overlooking the beach and run to catch the bus back.
The stay at Village de la Guyonniere was for 4 days, which went very quickly.