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The Vendee Automobile Museum

Home > Paris > Motorsports | Exhibitions | Automotive | Museums | Unusual Things to do
by Tom Fieldhouse (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son. I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath a lot, and sometimes about travels in Ireland and France.
Published September 4th 2018
Cars galore, Zut Alors
Entrance to the museum
A dramatic entrance to a fantastic museum

The Vendee, region below Brittany on the West coast of France, is a land of sun, wind, bright seas, low roofed houses...

and a wonderful Car Museum. With over 150 beautiful and fascinating cars exhibited in a massive hangar-like building, it is an unforgettable experience. The museum has everything from stripped- back early cars from the 1880's to futuristic concept cars, and they are all arranged chronologically in a massive rectangle shape. There is even an 'infirmary', in which rescued cars are patiently awaiting renovation. For motoring enthusiasts there are some real treasures to be found, such as this classic Harley Davidson bike and sidecar from 1917:

Harley Davidson
Beautifully preserved motorbike history.

Admission prices are very reasonable, at only 13 Euro for adults and 7 for children (under 5's go free). The staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming during my visit, and after drinking in all of the car and memorabilia, I had a coffee in their cosy cafe, next to a well-stocked souvenir shop. Being all on one floor the museum is also very wheelchair-friendly, and deliciously cool after the heat and winds of the Vendee. My absolute favourite car was this incredibly early De Dion Bouton single-seater car, from 1885!

Vintage engineering
Over a century old, but still stylish!

As well as ancient rarities, the museum also boasts some timeless classics, such as this sky-blue 1960 Chevrolet Impala. It was absolutely massive and very glamorous. I was content just to stare at the car itself, but for every exhibit, there are handwritten notes describing the specifications of the vehicles. Whether casual or determined car viewer, there is a lot to see.

Mad Men enthusiasts would swoon at the sight of this!

What struck me most about this collection, and the museum, is the labour of love that it has grown in to. The collection began in 1935, and has been painstakingly updated by the same family ever since. One glance into the infirmary and workshop show that the museum is still very much a work of art in progress.

The auto infirmary
Next in line to join the collection

Two cars, in particular, struck me as being quintessentially French, and I enjoyed them immensely. The first was a Renault 1 from 1912 in bright Dijon Mustard yellow, and the second a Citroen from 1961, which could have rolled straight off a Parisian film set. Voila!

The old...
Proudly French

This brilliant clip shows you exactly what to expect, right down to the wonderfully ornate makers marks and period-dressed mannequins: Click here for a glimpse of car heaven!

The newer...
Also very proud

The museum is very accessible from the beautiful Sables D'Olonne resort and can be found on the main road towards Talmont St-Hilaire. As the first image shows, the museum itself is hard to miss, with its gigantic tyre entrance. I absolutely loved this place and loved the huge variety of vehicles on offer. Here's one more. A futuristic concept car that is yet to make an appearance on the road, with a curiously old-fashioned name. I give you 'Vera'.

Vera? Not very futuristically named!
Vera today, gone tomorrow?

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Why? Superb car museum, packed full of tremendous vehicles, past present and future
When: Consult website for opening times
Phone: 33 2 51 22 05 81
Where: Talmont St-Hilaire, the Vendee, France
Cost: 7 Euro- 13 Euro
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