Le Tour de France for wine fans!

Combine your love of competitive sports with wine tasting and vineyards, here are some suggestions

Domaine Mourat Mareuil Sur Lay Copyright S .Bourcier Vendee Expansion

Recommended stage: #2 – Mouilleron-Saint-Germain > La Roche-Sur-Yon

The area of Vendee would be suitable for a wine fanatic’s holiday, with several commercial and family-run vineyards available to visit.

The largest wine growing area in Vendee is Lay Valley, located 20km south of La Roche-Sur-Yon (arrival town of Stage 2). Further west, wines from Brem – produced from the two Groulleau Gris and Chenin vines, are renowned for their soft, discreet apple aroma. Brem is located 35km from La Roche-Sur-Yon.

Stage Details:
#2: Mouilleron-Saint-Germain > La Roche-Sur-Yon

Stage Date:
Sunday July 8th

Recommended Viewing Area
The Bell Tower of Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure: At an altitude of 290 metres, Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure stands at the highest point in Vendée. Climb 199 steps up the 42-metre-high church tower for unrivalled panoramic views over the Vendée bocage.

Mouilleron-Saint-Germain & Cycling
Located in a cycling region, Mouilleron saw the Tour peloton ride past in 2011’s first stage.
In La Châtaigneraie, 5km from Mouilleron, a roundabout will be inaugurated by Christian Prudhomme and Bernard Hinault as a tribute to 1972 and 1973 French road champion, Roland Berland, who took part in eight editions of the Tour. Now 73, Berland was born in St Laurent de la Salle, 20 km from Mouilleron. At the end of his career, he became a sports director with Peugeot for six years.

Recommended Accommodation:

1. Château de la Flocellière
A peaceful family home just 8km from the Puy du Fou, the Château de la Flocellière is set in the Vendée bocage. Guests staying at the château and in the estate’s two gîtes have the use of a delightful swimming pool set away from the rooms and heated in summer. A tranquil 15-hectare park shaded by centuries-old trees makes the perfect setting to discover a thousand years of architectural history. The château’s five guestrooms are set in the main wing and each room has a different décor and atmosphere. The lounges are perfect for relaxing, reading or taking tea by the fireside.

2. Terragora Lodges
A picture of serenity deep in the woods of Les Epesses. Communal living characterises these beautiful eco lodges, but with a private terrace in each ‘hut’, privacy is not a concern. The Lodge has a restaurant that caters for all guests’ needs, along with a plethora of activities to make sure even the most restless never have a dull moment.

Recommended Vineyards:

1. Domaine Saint-Nicolas
The first vine-grower from the Vendée to adopt biodynamic farming practices (in 1995), Thierry Michon grows three different grape varieties (Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet). Their wines are popular at Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurants in France, and 30% of their total production is exported (Japan, USA, Mauritius and Monaco). At the end of 2015, the estate opened a new winery in L’Ile d’Olonne that can accommodate up to 80 people and includes a glass floor through which visitors can observe the barrels and the vinification process. Several services are on offer: vineyard tours, group tastings and seminars. https://www.domainesaintnicolas.com/

2. Vignoble Mercier
The Mercier family have been wine-growers since 1890 and own the Vix AOC estate. The estate, which covers 50 hectares, has been in the same family for four generations. The success of the estate is closely linked to its activity as a vine nursery, for which the family’s expertise has earned an international reputation. Located in one of the most southerly communes of the department, the estate boasts stunning panoramic views across the Marais Poitevin. Visitors can learn about the various grapes grown across the 36 hectares of the estate and sample the reds, rosés, whites and sparkling wines for themselves. http://www.mercier-vins.com/

3. Domaine Mourat
Domaine Mourat is open to visitors without reservation (both sites). The first site is the cellar in the centre of Mareuil-sur-Lay, right by the Château Marie du Fou on the banks of the Lay. The château was fully renovated and fitted out by the Mourat family in 2000. It boasts a large, fully equipped kitchen and a meeting room that can accommodate up to 50 people. Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-7pm. The Domaine Mourat estate also offers cycling or horse-riding exploration days. The day starts at 9 am with breakfast in the vault, followed by a cycle or horse-ride through the vineyards and tastings in situ. Participants then stop off for lunch at the Château Marie du Fou, in the shade of the Moulin Blanc, or among the vines, and the day ends with a tasting in the cellar. http://vignobles-mourat.fr/en