With its long Atlantic coastline, it is hardly surprising seafood ranks high on the gastronomy of the Vendee.
Offshore shellfish farms ensure a fresh supply of mussels and oysters and coastal restaurants in resorts like Les Sables-d’Olonne serve these along with a huge variety from lobsters, langoustines and crabs to skate, sole and mackerel. Rivers provide salmon and eels.
Visit the busy Saturday market in Fontenay-le-Comte on the River Vendee for fresh fish and seafood.
Look for ‘fleur de sel’ salt from the marshes on Noirmoutiers and the delicacy of samphire which grows on the marsh’s margins.
Most wine lovers will be familiar with the light dry white Muscadet wines - great with shellfish- produced in the Pays Nantais area close by in Loire Atlantique. But for those who enjoy searching for truly local produce, try some of the Fiefs Vendeen Vins de Pays (VDQS). These red, white and rose wines should be drunk young and the Mareuil rose is good value for money to enjoy with your shellfish or as an aperitif.
Prefou is a garlic bread from the Lucon plain which is also served as an aperitif and the town of Lucon is know for kamok - a coffee liqueur made there.
Try tasty lamb from North Vendee’s salt marshes along with famous freshly dug Noirmoutier bonnottes potatoes tasting of hazelnuts. Challan duck and free-range chicken have a high reputation nationwide. The ducks breed on marshlands surrounding the town and Challan’s great weekly markets are the place to pick up these and other local produce.
Look for the regional speciality of jambon-mogettes - Vendee ham tasting a little like bacon served with white haricot beans known as mogettes. The mogettes from Les Brouzils and le Poire-sur-Vie actually have AOC status.
The sweet tasting bread known as brioche Vendeene or savoury cakes made with goats cheese (tourteau fromager) make ideal ‘anytime’ snacks for holidaymakers on the move.