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Traditional Christmas magic made in the Vendée

Posted the 5 December 2022

The Vendée’s traditional Christmas magic is like no other. From inspiring Christmas markets, charming Christmas tales and intriguing legends…. what an amazing place to discover during the festive season

FRENCH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS, TALES, AND ENCOUNTERS IN THE VENDÉE!  

From the end of November, the first decorations and traditional Christmas markets will appear in many of the Vendée’s towns and villages. This very special atmosphere, the illuminations, the traditions, and the smells that remind us of our childhood…We wouldn’t miss these ends of the year celebrations for anything in the world!

In this article, we present the fables, the little French Christmas stories, and the customs that symbolise a traditional French Christmas. We have gone to meet the people who create the magic of Christmas here in the Vendée today, but also in the past and for the future. Experience a wonderful Christmas in the Vendée! 

Unusual French Christmas traditions made in the Vendée

Do you know the « Cosse de Nau” (or Nô or Nao in the Vendean dialect)? It is a log that Vendean families would burn on Christmas Eve. They carefully kept the embers and ashes to protect the house from lightning and bad harvests in the future. A type of protective charm or talisman! Christmas is the perfect time to sit by the fire and tell each other such stories!

For the past 20 years the Ferme du Grand Rorthais in Saint Hilaire de Loulay has been attracting many spectators to its Christmas illuminations. An amazing 250 metres of lights decorate the farm for a month. It creates a magical Christmas atmosphere and is somewhere not to be missed during the festive season.

One of the best Christmas markets or “Marché de Noël” can be found in Beaulieu sous la Roche. It is among the most beautiful Christmas markets in the Grand Ouest (region comprising of Brittany and Pays de la Loire). For more than 15 years, the small town of Beaulieu sous la Roche has been welcoming many visitors over an entire weekend! In 2022, this very French Traditional Christmas market will be held on Friday 2 nd December from 4pm to 9pm, Saturday 3 rd December from 10am to 9pm and Sunday 4 th December from 10am to 7pm.. A glimpse of Santa’s sleigh will be a special treat for the children. Listen to the barrel organ tunes while tasting a delicious local pastry….

Noël en Vendée

THE VENDÉE - FULL OF TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS STORIES AND MYSTERIOUS TALES 

Christmas night was also the best opportunity for Vendean families to tell Christmas stories and legendary tales! Following the traditions of certain Vendean towns such as L’Orbrie, Soullans, La Verrie or L’Ile de Yeu, children were told that menhirs, dolmens, and other huge boulders moved around on Christmas night: they drank, and they bathed…

At Christmas time the bells ring across the Vendée! In Noirmoutier, the “lost bells” return. It is said that they were stolen by the Dutch in the 17th century, and that each Christmas they ring again. In the villages of Saint Etienne du Bois and Vouvant, the locals say that ancient chapels rise up out of the ground on Christmas Eve. You’ll have to check this out, won’t you? 

contes de noël en Vendée

At the Pierre Branlante in La Verrie on the night of the 24th, the elves could be seen dancing the farandole (open-chain community dance) around the stone. Imagine these little creatures celebrating Christmas Eve! Perhaps they are cousins of the elves that help Father Christmas to leave presents under the tree, who knows? 

Thanks to Photos de Vendée, Le Saviez-vous-Vendée and Archives Vendée for the little stories.