Fontenay le Comte


Fontenay le Comte, a town of art and history

You can’t spend a week in Saint Michel le Cloucq without going to Fontenay le Comte, if only to do your shopping!

You will find all you need here including shops and local services.

But if you are interested in history, heritage and architecture this town will not just be the place to do your shopping. Here you will have the chance to discover the town.

History of Fontenay le Comte



Ancient capital city of the former Lower Poitou area, this town boasts, without a doubt, the richest history in the Vendée. Is now the administrative capital for the South Vendée.

It is also famous for being a ‘Town of Art and History’ and is surely one of the prettiest in France being listed in the “Plus Beaux détours de France” Michelin guide.

From the Neolithic age right up to today, Fontenay le Comte has a celebrated history. Far too long to describe here but we do recommend you visit the fountain of four pipes (La Fontaine des Quatre Tias)



and the Chateau.

Fontenay takes its name from this fountain. Alphonse of Poitiers, brother of Saint Louis, received Le Poitou as a gift and added ‘The Count’ to the name when it then became the capital of the Lower-Poitou. On the pediment of the fountain you will see the town’s motto : Fons Fontanacum Felicium Ingeniorum Scaturigo in latin which can be translated as “Fontenay, fountain and source of source de beautiful minds”.

The beautiful minds makes reference to the illustrious people that lived in Fontenay le Comte during the Renaissance: Rabelais, Nicolas Rapin, André Tiraqueau, François Viète, Barnabé Brisson.


We encourage you to discover the town on foot

It is impossible to list every monument, hotel facade and ancient street here but we suggest you follow a guided tour by guides who are accredited by the Ministry of Culture:

These guided visits will open the doors of beautiful Renaissance buildings. And you can visit the caves and discover the middle ages, following in the footsteps of Rabelais.

Terre-Neuve castle


Terre-Neuve Fontenay le Comte


We recommend you visit the château de Terre-Neuve.

This historical monument is open between May and September and is a jewel of the Renaissance period. Built in 1580 by Nicolas Rapin, High Provost of the constables of France and companion of King Henry IV. It is worth noting the monumental fireplaces decorated with alchemist’s symbols, the stone carved coffered ceilings, the wood panelling and the gold-leaf suns etc…

For the younger members there is a smart phone or ipad game that can be downloaded to help them to see the castle as never before. For full details please ask at the castle reception.


Our recommendations for local specialities

For tea and coffee lovers we recommend Café &Co’ Torréfaction at 72 rue de la République for the finest teas and coffees to delight your palate.

We love L’hôtel de Vendée which offers great value for money. There are no menus but your waiter will give you the run down of the different dishes available.

A new talented chef Cyril Bretheau Le Rabelais invites you to sample his menus.