In the upper Vendée Bocage region, come and see the sites commemorating the Wars in Vendée and the historic areas paying homage to the victims of a bloody and fratricidal conflict during the French Revolution.
A little history
The Vendée War was a civil war opposing republicans and royalists between 1793 and 1796, during the French Revolution. The republican "infernal columns" led by General Turreau aimed to destroy Vendée and defeat the rising of the Chouans, the name given to the royalist rebels in western France. The arrest and execution of General Charrette, in 1796, marked the end of a particularly violent and deadly conflict that led to almost 500,000 deaths among the Vendeans. Today, many historic sites, museums, cemeteries and memorials will take you to the heart of the "Vendée Militaire" (the regions supporting the rebellion), in the footsteps of famous figures and places filled with history and emotion. They still bear the traces of tragic events that are still little known to the public.
Mont des Alouettes
In the town of Les Herbiers, close by your holiday residence in Vendée, the Mont des Alouettes is a hill where the Vendée armies assembled during the war. The insurgents used the windmill sails to communicate with each other. The windmills were burnt down by the republicans in October 1793, then rebuilt after the war. Today, the Mont des Alouettes windmills are a symbol of the War in Vendée.
La Gaubretière, the Pantheon of the Vendée Militaire
At the heart of the Vendée Bocage area, some 15 kilometres from our holiday residence, Les Hameaux des Epesses, the peaceful town of La Gaubretière is also an important site commemorating the War in Vendée. The cemetery is known as the "Pantheon of the Vendée Militaire" and contains the graves of Vendée officers and local figures who were killed in the fighting. The big stone cross standing on the central mound is in homage to the inhabitants of the parish killed in 1793 and 1794, especially on the "Day of the Great Massacre", 27 February 1794.
Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, the heart of the Vendée uprising
In the upper Vendée Bocage area, between Cholet and Les Herbiers, Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre is a major centre commemorating Vendée and the Chouannerie uprising. Above the old Château de la Barbinière porch is the inscription "porte des martyrs" ("martyrs' gate"), with a granite cross above it, a reminder that the town was devastated by the republican armies from January to March 1794, after the Battle of Cholet. Distance from your holiday residence in Vendée: 10 km.
The Memorial in Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne and the Vendée Historial
In Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne, the Vendée Memorial pays homage to the victims of the massacre of 564 villagers who had taken refuge in the parish church on 28 February 1794. After visiting the Memorial, follow the Memorial Path to see the commemorative chapel in Le Petit Luc. You can then go on to the Vendée Historial, a fascinating museum recounting the history of the region from prehistoric times to today. This ia s chance to find out more about the great events and the famous figures involved in the War in Vendée: General Charette, the "King of Vendée", Maurice Joseph Louis Gigost d'Elbée, nicknamed by his soldiers "General Providence" or Jacques Cathelineau, a Vendée general known as the Saint of Anjou.
Logis de La Chabotterie
In Saint Sulpice le Verdon, you can visit the Logis de la Chabotterie, where General Charrette, the most famous Vendean leader, was arrested in 1796. Here you can see ten historic rooms furnished as they were in the 18th century, an exhibition about Charrette and a French-style garden. A fun and interactive escape game will introduce you to the history of the site.
Le refuge de Grasla
Right at the heart of the Brouzils forest, the Refuge de Grasla recreates a village where hundreds of families took refuge in winter 1794 in order to escape from General Turreau's Infernal Columns. Here you can see how the Vendeans lived at the time. A realistic and moving evocation of the period.