Talmont-Saint-Hilaire is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays-de-Loire region, located 30 km south-west of La Roche-sur-Yon and about fifteen kilometers from Les Sables-d'Olonne.
The locality first developed around its castle, originally constituted of a dungeon erected in the eleventh century by William the Bald, vassal of the Duke of Aquitaine. After several decades under the rule of the King of France, the castle was considerably reinforced by Raoul de Mauléon, vassal of Richard Cœur de Lion, and the Duke of Aquitaine at the end of the 12th.
Dismantled in the 16th century so that the English could not establish themselves in the region, the castle lost its prestige and it was not until the 20th century that it was restored.
It is now the spearhead of Talmont-Saint-Hilaire, which has made tourism related to its heritage and its beach, on the Coast of Lights, its vector of economic development, having lived a long time of agriculture, maritime trade, Salt marshes and oyster farming.
In fact, since the Second World War, the city has seen remarkable demographic growth, rising from one thousand inhabitants to nearly 7,500 today. It is a renowned seaside resort on the Vendée coast.
A visit of the city begins with that of its jewel: formerly on the seaside, now away from the littoral for several kilometers, the castle of Talmont was partly built in pebbles and its successive enlargements testify to the evolution of techniques in terms of Military architecture. Overlooking the estuary of the River Payre and the port, sheltering or protecting the city (halls, abbey), it was a bastion of the dukes of Aquitaine then a strong Protestant place during the wars of religion, but after the Revolution, the Castle gradually lost its superb. Redeemed by the commune at the beginning of the 20th century, it was the subject of several restoration campaigns. Excavations are still taking place. This major site can be visited all year round, with a guide or with a brochure or audioguide. Price: from 5 to 11 euros (adults) and from 2.50 to 7 euros (children) depending on the period. In summer, the entrance gives right to shows given in the afternoon or evening (history of Richard Cœur de Lion, falconry). For more information, please contact us at +33 2 51 90 27 43.
Other elements of the architectural and historical heritage of Talmont-Saint-Hilaire are worth a look.
This is the case of the church of Saint-Hilaire several times overhauled. Originally dating from the 11th century, the vaults and bays are from the 16th century and the nave was rebuilt in the 19th century.
Built in the 19th century on the site of a former priory, the chapel of Bourgenay surmounts a crypt anterior to the Revolution. Pilgrimages have taken place since a statue of the Immaculate Conception was installed at the end of the 19th century.
On the harbor, a cannon from an eighteenth-century frigate seems to be watching the shore.
The old pivot mills (some of the 12th) or old dovecote (such as the Breuil, which could accommodate 2,000 birds) are also interesting.
More impressive are the footprints of prehistoric and fossil animals uncovered at the Vaillon or, more recently, the "Asparagus of Rommel", stakes installed on the estuary of the Payré to avoid any allied landings during the last war at low tide).
For historical heritage items, guided tours or information on +33 2 51 90 65 10.
In a different way, the discovery of the astonishing automobile museum of Vendée and its 160 cars dating from 1885 to the 1960s (entry 13 and 7 euros, information on +33 2 51 22 05 81) or that of the Aquarium of the 7 continents Where there are 500 species (entry 13,80 and 9,80 euros, information on +33 2 51 32 30 00) are alternatives in case of bad weather...
Then you have to discover and enjoy the coastline and its riches.
One thinks of the oyster basin of the Payré (20 companies, information for visits to +33 2 51 20 74 85), the estuary of the Payré being as such classified Grand Ensemble Naturel for its remarkable biodiversity.
Numerous hiking and biking trails can be found along the coast, whether wild, bordered by forests or made up of coves or beaches. Information on marked trails and trails on +33 2 51 90 65 10.
Near the harbor, the golf course and its two 18-hole courses welcome players who are savvy or novice. Contact the hotel on +33 2 51 23 35 45.
Finally, the pleasures of the beach and the sea will delight small and big, sportsmen or lovers of idleness...
After a visit of the marina (more than 600 boats!), Direction the beach of Veillon and its fine sand! It is possible to practice the following activities, mostly from April to September... Fishing and sea fishing (Tel: +33 6 27 14 17 21), sport fishing (Tel: +33 6 07 34 10 26), marsh fishing (Kayak (Tel: +33 6 40 32 54 75), surfing (Phone: +33 6 84 50 96 17), jet ski Sure sail (board, dinghy... Phone: +33 2 51 90 65 10).
In mid-Lent (march), parade of chariots and musical animations, evening ball.
In mid-May, medieval festival in the castle of Talmont (equestrian show, animations in costumes, concert in the evening).
In July and August, concerts in the center, at the castle and musical entertainment on the beach. Information on +33 2 51 90 65 10.
The third Sunday of August, salt festival in the Guittière district (visit of the salt marshes, artisans, traditional music and songs).
Finally, a market takes place every Thursday morning at the castle square where local producers and craftsmen showcase the terroir and the know-how of the region.