The Atlantic coastline islands

The Atlantic coastline islands

Even though the Gite de la Gravée is situated in Vendée, in south Vendée to be precise, it is actually nearer to the islands of Charente Maritime than the Vendée islands.

The gîte is nearer to the Islands of Re, Aix and Madame and also to Fort Boyard the stone fort made famous by the television programme of the same name, than to the Vendée islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier.


The Island of Ré

Ré Island


The Island of Re is just off the coast of La Rochelle and is reached by a 3km (2mile) long bridge. The island only measures 30km (20miles) long by 5k, (3miles) wide and it is France’s 4th island.

It is known as ‘The White Ré’ because of its incredible light, the 10 villages and its hollyhocks. Did you know that the old port of Saint Martin is classed as a world heritage site?


Saint Martin de Ré


Beaches, salt flats and cycle routes in abundance are what make this island so charming.


Aix Island

Aix Island


The island of Aix is a small island only accessible by sea and no cars are allowed on the island. It is known for its famous inhabitants: Napoléon Bonaparte lived here before he left for Sainte-Hélène. In the museum dedicated to him you can see his room which has remained unchanged since his departure.

The island has a remarkable natural site with small coves and you can appreciate the unspoilt landscape.

The island is also a fortress, which was once responsible for protecting Rochefort with his other forts: fort de la Rade and Fort Liédot.

Aix is only 3km (2miles) long and just 700 metres wide. Become an islander for a few hours and take a stroll around this small island.

If you prefer you can cycle round the island or take a pony and trap. You can see the Island of Ré and the Island of Oléron as well as Fort Boyard from this island.

To get there, take the boat to Fouras but times depend on the tides.


Madame Island

Madame Island


Madame Island is tiny and only accessible on foot at low tide from the Port des Barques by the ‘Passe aux Boeufs’ a submerged route. It is reminiscent of the ‘Passage of Gois’ which takes you to the Island of Noirmoutier in the North Vendée.

As for both it is important to be aware of the tides to avoid being marooned by the rising waters!

Madame island is in between the Fouras peninsular and the Island of Aix to the north of Port-des-Barques. It faces south towards the island of Oléron and the famous Fort Boyard.


Fort Boyard



You must have heard of Fort Boyard, if only from the famous television programme of the same name?

Fort Boyard was built to protect Rochefort’s arsenal. This important stone sea fort was built to shelter the cannons and the garrison. They never reached Fort Boyard as the artillery made excellent progress.

It became a prison and is now the home of the television series Fort Boyard. You cannot visit the fort but you can see it close up if you take a boat trip from one of the local ports.


Our recommendations for local specialities

Everyone knows the famous Ile de Ré potatoes, and its vineyards, but did you know that here in Vendee there is also the famous Noirmoutier potato! But which one do you choose? Both of course! Salt flats are evident on the islands too so don’t forget to buy your salt!

Have you heard of ‘la bonnotte’? It’s an early new potato which is harvested in May and can only be found on the island of Noirmoutier in the north of the Vendée.