One of the big charms of Noirmoutier is that everyone -even the very smallest child - travels by bike. Whole families can be seen pedalling in groups as it's very safe with lots of bike paths and with few cars on the roads. The island is as flat as a pancake so that it's easy pedalling and you can go for miles.
There are bicycle hire shops everywhere - even in Le Vieil the little village with this beach house in France- so you don't have to bring your own and they have them in all shapes and sizes with seats and carts for children. (We don't include our house bikes in the rental) Click here to reserve your bikes from our favourite shop that also deliver.
For serious bicyclists, there are over 1000km of tracks that can take you on a complete circuit of the Vendée. Find out more
EVENTS & ATTRACTIONS
Throughout the year, there is a varied programme of events organised by the Office of Tourism. There is an annual theatre festival in August and a summer-long programme of concerts and spectacles including street theatre, music, fireworks and parades.
The 14th July is marked by fireworks, bands, a parade of children with lampions and the Bal des Pompiers.
Other attractions include a mini-village, a butterfly farm, the little train, and the Hippobus (drawn by horses and not hippos!)
There is also a cinema with 2 screens with a constantly changing programme of international and French films.
Sailing is taken very seriously in Noirmoutier. There are several important Regattas during the summer when groups of elegant pencil slim sailing boats - Dragons and Requins - compete in the bay. The Regatta of the Bois de la Chaise which is in August can be seen from the terrace of this seaside house in France. It's accompanied by great festivities around town - rock bands, street theatre and fireworks from the ramparts of the chateau.
There are many sailing schools around the island where all ages can learn to sail, kite or wind surf - and it's a lovely sight to see groups of tiny tots in tiny colourful boats roped together setting off across the bay with a teacher.
There are marinas in L'Herbaudiere and at Port Morin on the Atlantic side, which are used by serious sailors as stop overs or where boats can be rented.
SWIMMING & KID'S CLUB
Swimming is safe in Noirmoutier and particularly on the beaches close to this French holiday rental House Some beaches are better for high-tide swimming and some at low tide. The tides are big and so you sometimes have to walk a long way to find anything to swim in! In Le Vieil it is best to swim 3 hours either side of high tide. Click here for Tide Table .
There are various children's clubs on the beaches. The nearest to Father Pancake, this beach house in France, is Club Valdingo on Mardi Gras beach about 5 minutes walk away.
Throughout the summer, there are brocantes and antique markets every week and in every village. You just have to keep your eyes open for the posters. Some of my most successful finds have been in "vide greniers" and "vide maisons". You'd be amazed what you can find for sale.
CULTURE & MUSEUMS
The castle in Noirmoutier dates from the 12th century and is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Western France with a seigneurial residence within the walls. It now houses a museum which tells the complicated story of the Vendéen wars, a very bloody episode in the revolutionary period. Noirmoutier was fiercely fought over and changed hands several times. Many were executed in the town square including the dashing General Elbée, who faced the firing squad in his arm chair as he was unable to stand. His chair is in the museum - complete with bullet holes!
The panoramic view from the top of the castle is also very informative as it gives an idea of the layout of the island and its relationship with the Bay of Bourgneuf. Also strongly recommended is a visit to the newly restored Hotel Jacobsen, a hotel particulier dating from 1761, which has a very informative exhibition about the island.
In La Guerinière on the other side of the island there is also a museum of the island's traditions. This describes in detail the way of life on the island in the 19th & 20th centuries - particularly the salt harvesting, fishing and other marine professions.
There's a tennis club 10 minutes away by bike where there are lots of courts to hire. They have a mixture of surfaces - clay, synthetic and some are covered. There's shop on site, and you can book lessons and take part in tournaments.
The nearest golf course is at St. Jean des Monts - about 25 km away. Regularly named among the 30 most beautiful golf courses in France because of its exceptional position, the first 9 holes are in a forest of pines and evergreen oaks. The next 9 holes give spectacular views of the ocean and L'Ile d'Yeu.