More than 1000 boats fill the marina and Les Sables d'Olonne is also the starting point of the Vendee
Globe round-the-world yacht race, which is held every four years.
also boasts any number of architectural treasures, many of which can be found in places like Foussais-Payre, Nieul-sur-l'Autise, with its 11th-Century abbey, Vouvant, Faymoreau and Mallievre, known locally as Petites Cites de Caractere or small typical towns.
Though it may seem peculiar to those who accept modem "class warfare" assumptions, the peasantry and nobility of the Vendee
had lived in productive harmony for decades.
She could face another Vendee
Globe race, despite the dramas and dangers of the past three months, she said, adding: "If the race was to start again tomorrow I would not hesitate going out there."
The main square at St Jean de Monts and (inset) beach huts on part of the Vendee
's 250km of coastline
may be less well known than other areas of France.
With young children, we had opted to catch the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo rather than take a standard trip to Calais because it cuts out around three hours' driving time to the Vendee
on the west coast - and it was a perfect arrangement.
THE saints, it seems, found the Vendee
and its beaches to their liking.
is still an evocative name to the French, 200 years after a bloody uprising.