Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vendee Towns and Villages

Many of the visiters to our gites ask for more details on the towns and villages in the vendee, they want to know about their history, attractions, walks, whether they have a market etc., with this in mind I have started to add more towns and villages to the website.
The latest pages are: Les sables d'Olonne, St Gilles croix de Vie and Lucon.
Our intrepid critic of all things Vendeen is about to publish his review of the Ile-de-Re, so keep an eye ouit for that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ile de Re

With the Gite season now in full flow I decided to take "Tate" our intrepid reviewer of all things Vendeen including restaurants, off to the Ile de Re. Now before you all write in and tell me that the Ile de Re is not in the Vendee I know it's not, but like La Rochelle and Niort they are all only a few miles out from the southern borders of the department and should be considered as excellent days out while you are in this area of France. I say I took Tate, the truth is he drove his Mercedes van as he needs to transport his mobility scooter to be able to get around. Now Tate will in fact be writing a review of the island which will be a personal account full of his usual wit, but I have published a more factual page with some of the photo's I took while on this prettiest of islands.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gites near Puy du Fou

The world acclaimed theme park of Puy du fou is one of those must see attractions when you are visiting the Vendee, or indeed any other department in the Pays de la Loire. The area around the Puy du fou in the Haut Bocage would not be everyone’s choice of location for a holiday though it is reasonable well placed for visiting the Loire valley. Our Vendee gites at La grange holidays offer an ideal location, just 40 minutes away, situated on the edge of the bocage and the Fontenay le Comte to Lucon praire.

La Grange offers 2-3-4 and 5 bedroom gites in a quiet rural setting with great on site facilities and acres of beautiful gardens, close to the renaissance town of Fontenay-le-Comte and just 40mins from La Rochelle and the same distance to some of the finest beaches on the Atlantic coast.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tate's become a blogger

Well Tate may be back, but he's like a dog with a new tail. With his new found mobility our intrepid restaurant critic and reviewer of all things Vendeen has not only been out and about the Vendee with his scooter ,but has his first article on the Puy du Fou already writen and published plus he's decided to start a Blog, so if you want to find out more about this pusher of the pen (Bard of Vendee) then visit his blog at

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Letting your Gites

There are several ways for gite owners to find clients for their properties and depending on how large your property(s) and therefore your potential income as which will be your best option. It will also depend on whether you want or have the time to handle the work your self.
Handling the bookings your self can give you the biggest return, however this will depend on how well and effective your advertising is done and this can be a mine field. Owning your own website is an option, but getting it found by Google is just one of the many obstacles and if you are not on the first page or two of results then the only use of your website is as a source of information for clients who have found you via another source.
Advertising using one of the major agencies where you pay them to publish your advert and the booking enquiries come direct to you has been a favourite with owners for years but there are draw backs. You may find that you are in an area where the agency has so many advertisers that there are 20 or 30 pages of then and this is a bit like having your own website and hoping to be found on Google, it is rare for a surfer to look more than a page or two before giving up, though many have filter systems so you can look for say "2 bedroom gites with heated pool”, but again not everyone uses the filters.
Another problem in picking the right agency to advertise with is how well they do their job. A site that does well this year may fail miserably the next as has been the case this year with a couple of the major players and of course it's not till you find that no enquiries are coming in that you realise the problem. Advertising with multi-agencies will solve this problem but is costly.
Alternatively you can choose an agency who will do all the work for you, find the clients, do the paperwork, collect the money and then after deducting their fee send you the balance. Most of the bigger ones are very efficient at what they do and you can expect a large amount of customers. The draw backs are, they demand sole rights to your property, some allow a week or two for your own use but in general it's out of your hands. The percentage they take can be high, so though you may have many customers your income can be drastically reduced.

There is a third choice. There are the smaller local agencies, these usually specialise in their area, do not have huge lists and more importantly most only charge 10% commission and most don't demand sole booking rights. This has great advantages. They are more competitive and have to work hard to secure you clients. You have no money invested so if one doesn't work you have lost nothing. You are free to use as many others or independent forms of advertising as you want its almost a win win no brainer format. It is however better if you use multiple agents to give one overall booking control to make sure you get no double bookings.
I personally use this system using who specialise in the Vendee and surrounding departments of the Deux Sevre and Charente Maritime which along with my own websites that are then directed to them to handle the enquiries. During this season i have seen no decrease in bookings where as has seen a rush in owners wanting to join

Tate's Story (Andy cap in the Vendee)

Our intrepid writer and reviewer of all things Vendeen is now back in his mansion (Chateau) in the south Vendee and this year he has new wheels to get about so we are sure to have more and varied reviews.
In the following article Tate explains more about his new found wings which will be followed by articles on how the handicap see the Puy du Fou and La Rochelle.

Thunderbirds - R – Go

It’s May 2009 and after a long cold winter in Blighty, I’m finally back in the Vendee, but this year there’s a difference, this year Thunderbirds are Go.

I’ve been caught in the diminishing mobility spiral for some time. It may come as a surprise to some, but this is not due to me being rendered legless through an over indulgence in alcohol, it is rather as a result of limited mobility. This has lead to a lesser ability to exercise promoting weight gain producing further limitations to my mobility etc. etc. The upshot of all of this has left me spending less and less time out and about and doing things while in the UK and more time at home. The problem has been less prolific in France as when the weather’s good I can spend my time next to and in the pool and as most of my friends have accessible dwellings with plenty of parking, visiting here is much easier. Nonetheless I have still been severely restricted in what I could and couldn’t do, so late last year I bit the bullet and bought myself a Mercury Neo 4 Mobility Scooter, known hereafter as T8 (Thunderbirds 8) and just like that my life was transformed. Places that had been entirely out of reach were now easily within my compass, it didn’t get me dancing but it did get me in the ballroom.

I knew that just buying the scooter wouldn’t be sufficient, and that I would need to get it close enough to places to be able to use it effectively, after all scooting to Tesco’s from my house was one thing but scooting to the house in France was way beyond the scooter’s capabilities. Now those of you who are old enough to remember the 60’s TV series Thunderbirds will know that their transport vehicle was Thunderbirds 2, my T2 is a converted Mercedes Vito Van. As in the series everything is remote controlled and automated. The rear doors open electronically and the Ricon lift folds out like a flower opening at sunrise it then lowers seamlessly and I am able to drive T8 onto it. Another touch on the remote and I’m levitated and able to scoot into the belly of the beast, with the lift folding back into the van and the doors closing and locking themselves. The wonders do not end there as I have an electric driver’s seat, some of you out there (Stephen you know who you are) might say better that it was an electric chair. In addition to the numerous Mercedes gadgets on the seat it is independently powered and moves up and down, forward and back and swivels, I’m still looking for the Tea’s made which I’m sure must be concealed somewhere within.
Since arriving in France I have been to several supermarkets and 2 major DIY warehouses, “Whoopee” you might say “Big deal” well actually when you’ve been unable to do these things for as long as I have even the most mundane of tasks takes on an almost spiritual quality, add to that days spent at the Puy du Fou and La Rochelle, both of which I will cover individually in separate articles, and I hope you can see that this has given me back a degree of freedom that I thought I’d lost forever. All in all these truly are very impressive pieces of kit. I may not have the slide away pool or the fold down palm trees of Tracy Island but in all other respects
Thunderbirds really are Go!!
Tate 7th June 2009