5 good reasons to visit La Roche-sur-Yon
Built by Napoleon, La Roche-sur-Yon has plenty more assets to show off than its prestigious origins! Enjoy 5 unmissable or unexpected experiences in this dynamic Vendée town.
1) Steer mechanical animals in the central square
The incredible inspiration of the set designer and director François Delarozière, who has created a mechanical menagerie in the pools of the place Napoléon. A hippopotamus, a crocodile, an owl, a Nile perch, a camel and pink flamingos are each connected to a control centre that allows the public to move each part of the animal for a result that's (almost) better than the real thing. Kids love it!
2) Visit the amazing Musée du Chocolat (Chocolate Museum)
Master chocolatier p, one of the best in France, has set up a museum in La Roche-sur-Yon that showcases the history of cacao, from its Mayan origins to today. A visit to savour through six different "worlds" filled with multimedia devices, fun displays and delightful tastings. At the end of their tour, visitors can watch the chocolate makers at work. Yum.
3) Explore the Haras de la Vendée
Founded in 1843, the prestigious institution still features people and horses in a magnificent 1-acre park that celebrates the equestrian arts. Visitors can watch demonstrations, discover the secrets of the site, climb into horse-drawn carriages, explore the stables and even watch working sessions with commentary.
4) Wax lyrical in the Espace des Records du Monde (World Records Space)
Slightly to the south of La Roche-sur-Yon, in the town of Aubigny, stands an improbable museum that explores how between 1983 and 1992 the municipality attempted to become a "World Records Capital" , through many feats of achievement. The vestiges of this incredible journey are on show here, including this key measuring almost 9 metres, this size 200 clog or this 2.4-metre spoon!
5) Meet fairies and elves in the Vallée de l'Yon
The Vallée de l'Yon crosses through the town and runs south to the municipality of Tablier, where the Le Chaos de Piquet boulders can be found. Georges Clémenceau, a regular visitor, liked to compare the site to Swiss landscapes. Here, the river sometimes creates torrents that beat against the stones and granite blocks between the ruins of the windmills and spinning mills. A magical place imbued with legends that conjure up Gargantua, water nymphs or the famous "giant's cooking pot" pools clear for all to see!