Vendée is a département in west central France, on the Atlantic's Bay of Biscay. The name Vendée is taken from the river which runs through the south-eastern part of the département.

Region Pays de la Loire
Number 85
Préfecture La Roche-sur-Yon
Sous-préfectures Fontenay le Comte, Les Sables d'Olonne
 - Total
 - % water

6,971 km²
 - Total (1990)
 - Density



Vendée comprises a total of 31 cantons and 281 communes.


Originally known as the Bas-Poitou, the village of Nieul-sur-l'Autise is believed to be the birthplace of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and was part of her Kingdom. Eleanor's son, Richard I of England (the Lionhearted) often based himself in Talmont. The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) turned much of the Vendée into a battleground.

Since the Vendée held a considerable number of influential Protestants, including control by Jeanne d'Albret, the region was also greatly marked by the 36-year French Wars of Religion which broke out in 1562. Eventually King Henri IV, issued the Edict of Nantes and the Wars came to an end. When the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, it caused many Huguenots to flee from the Vendée.

It is also remembered as the place where the peasants revolted against the Revolutionary government in 1793. The bloody conflict, in support of the Monarchy and against the changes imposed on the Roman Catholic Church erupted in defiance of the Revolutionary government's military conscription. A guerrilla war, led by an underground faction known as the Chouans (screech owls), the revolt became known as the Wars of the Vendée and would cost more than 100,000 lives until it ended in 1796.

In 1850, British author, Anthony Trollope, published his book "La Vendee" detailing the history of the region and the war.


Vendée's highest point is Mont Mercure (935 feet/285 m).

See also: Communes of the Vendée département



Vendée's inhabitants are referred to as Vendeans (French Vendéens).


With more than 100 miles of sandy beaches edged with dunes and pine woods, and a very mild climate, Vendée is today a popular tourist destination. It boasts many churches and abbeys, museums, and - for nature lovers - there are thousands of marked footpaths, a signposted bicycle route running along the coastal mudflats, and marshes that attract unusual birds. Fishing is popular in the ocean or in the Vendée's rivers and lakes.

Miscellaneous topics

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