Vive La France

My best friend Emilie is French, and every summer for as long as I have known her she has disappeared off to France for the entire summer. For the past few summers ideas have been hatched and plans have been made for me to visit, but for one reason or another they have never taken off. This summer I was determined to finally see this other half of Emilie's life for myself, so last week I packed up my things, jumped on the eurostar and trained it down to Vendee on the west coast of France.
Em's Mum is the French one in the family, and Vendee is where she used to spend her summer holidays as well when she was growing up. Everybody that she was friendly with when she was young now holidays here with there children too, and as a result there is this huge group of people spanning generations that are like one big family.
The lifestyle is so relaxed and easygoing that it would make a spa day look stressful. People pop in unannounced at midnight just to say hello, its the norm not to have internet access and you forgot what its like to wear make up.  
A few years ago Em's family decided to buy a run down old farmhouse and renovate it to save themselves from spending the summer cooped up in the Grandparents house. The finished product is absolutely beautiful. Its rustic, but has this great typically French, beachy feel.
I arrived pretty late so the next morning Emilie and I decided to take a little bike ride, giving Em the chance to play tour guide and show me around.

What I loved about Vendee was that it is complete rural French countryside, yet it is right on the coast. You go from cycling between fields and farms to landing slap bang on the beach.
The beaches are breathtaking and just seem to stretch on forever. The West coast of France is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean so it can be a bit on the chilly side, but after 5 minutes of lying in the Vendee sun that icy chill is a very welcome cool down.

After tiring our little legs out it was time to take a quick pit stop for a coffee and a crepe. We went for the healthiest option on the menu...(cough cough) A chocolate smothered beast piled high with whipped cream. Not so great for our waistlines, but a great little piece of food porn!
Twice a week there is the most typically French market that takes place in a nearby village. People pile into the streets with their stalls and by midday they have all completely dissapeared without a trace. 
All of the stalls were selling different things: clothes, jewellery, ornaments, handcrafted crockery, the list goes on. The food stalls were my favourite, and with free samples flying from every angle, we hardly needed those crepes. (almost)
Plenty of smelly French cheese! Yum, yum, yum!

French sausage.
Every type of olive, sun dried tomato and Tapenade (a classic french dish of pureed capers, olives, anchovies and olive oil) you could ever ask for.
All tired out from our mornings workout and full of free testes and crepe, it was time to head home...for lunch. The vast majority of my trip to Vendee was spent eating, but the food in France is so delicious that I was hardly complaining... More on that another day. 
As for now, I'll leave you sunbathing in the garden where we snoozed all afternoon... The Vendee lifestyle is definitely something I could get used too, and theres plenty more to come.

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