Château de Noirmoutier
Château de Noirmoutier. Photo © Jean-Sébastien Evrard

Twelve Outstanding Experiences Not to Miss on the Île de Noirmoutier

Related article: The Lure of La Vendée in Pays de la Loire

Château de Noirmoutier

Dominating the skyline of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île is the 20-metre-high keep of this magnificent 12th-century castle. It was a military prison during the French Revolution, but today serves as the island’s museum, and offers great views over the town.

www.ville-noirmoutier.fr/le-chateau

Photo © OT Noirmoutier

L’Atelier de la Sardine

Opened in 2018, La Perle des Dieux’s Atelier de la Sardine museum takes you back in time to meet the men and women who have made the humble sardine a local symbol of excellence, with memorabilia from the 17th century right up to the present day.

Domaine d’Éric Sage

There is no better way to get an appreciation for the working life of this rather special vineyard than in a carriage pulled by a rare local breed of horse. Bolero, Petra Wise’s beloved steed, will take you on a relaxing ride through the vines.

https://ericsage.wixsite.com/website

Photo © Florian Péroud

L’Estacade, Saint-Jean-de-Monts

Stretching 400m out into the Atlantic, this magnificent wooden pier has become a favourite for fishermen keen to keep their feet firmly on the ground, and they are always happy to talk about their catches.

Photo © Balades de Chloé

Les Balades de Chloé

Aquatic marching, paddleboarding and paddlefitness all feature on the timetable at this one woman fitness school. Immensely popular, and catering for all levels of experience, you can expect to come away with a stronger core and better balance. Facebook @lesbaladesdechloe

Photo © OT Noirmoutier

Oyster Tasting

Oyster farms are scattered around the island and are easily visible at low tide. There are also a number of oyster tasting huts. If the urge takes you out of hours, La Godaille Huîtres at Port du Bonhomme operates a 24/7 oyster vending machine. www.lagodaille.com

Set amid 50 hectares of coastal dune fields and forests of pine and oak, with the sound of the waves crashing down on the shoreline beside you, this 5,912m long, par 72 golf course is hard to beat. www.golfsaintjeandemonts.fr

Photo © Hotel Jacobsen

L’Hôtel Jacobsen

Recently renovated under the eye of heritage architect Stéphane Barbotin-Larrieu, and reopened as a museum in the spring of 2019, this 18th-century hotel tells the story of the Empire and the influence of the sea on the island of Noirmoutier.

www.ile-noirmoutier.com

Photo © Florian Péroud

Biotopia

A fantastic educational and discovery experience that won’t feel like a school excursion, this interactive environmental centre lifts the lid on the secrets of the shoreline and forest, and shows you just what you might have missed.

www.biotopia.fr

Photo © Maison du Pêcheurs

La Maison des Pêcheurs

Learn how sailors used to live, in this museum set in a painstakingly restored traditional fisherman’s cottage featuring a wealth of local artefacts and tales. Be sure to find out just what was found in that 150-litre barrel washed up on the shore in 1912.

www.payssaintgilles-tourisme.fr/en

La Base Nautique

Surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing… It all happens here at this state of the art watersports school on the beach at Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Go along even if you don’t want to take part, as the various activities make for fantastic spectator sport.

www.labasenautique.fr

Passage de Gois

Here is something quite special about taking the traditional road from the mainland over to L’Île de Noirmoutier. Crossing a very unusual habitat that bustles with activity at low tide, it is worth leaving plenty of time to complete the 4.1km drive.
 From France Today magazine
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Stephen Davy-Osborne
Stephen Davy-Osborne is a freelance features writer who fell in love with France from a young age during family holidays to Britanny and - like every other British child of the late 1980s - Disneyland Paris. Summers spent in Cannes and Nice sealed his fate and now his passport is well-used crossing back and forth The Channel.

1 COMMENT

  1. I love the article. I am from the US and spent several summers during my childhood with my grandmother. I am surprised there is no mention of the salt flats and the cultivation of salt.
    Thank you, Carolyn D’Amour Orr

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