Yves Rocher, who died in 2009, founded his cosmetics company in his hometown in 1958; it went on to become a global billion-euro business. The company, which grows, makes and distributes its own products, is the area’s biggest employer. Visit the HQ and Maison Yves Rocher where you can watch a film about Yves Rocher’s history then wander around the botanical garden where you’ll find 1100 species of plant. There’s an on-site shop in case you want to buy some goodies.
In 2009, Yves Rocher opened an eco-friendly spa hotel, La Grée des Landes, where residents and day visitors can indulge in relaxing treatments using the company’s natural products. The hotel has a gourmet restaurant, which uses organic and local products, where diners can enjoy panoramic views over the gardens; the site is a designated bird and butterfly reserve.
Art, craft and photos
La Gacilly’s narrow streets are jam-packed with artists and craftsmen of all types, from puppet makers to jewellery designers and from potters to glass blowers. Among them is British artist Anne Smith, official painter to the French Navy, whose work can be seen at the Galerie du Chat Noir. The town is also known for its annual photo festival, France’s largest outdoor photographic festival, which takes place from June to September; past themes have included ‘people and nature’ and ‘biodiversity’.
Donkeys and electric boats
What better way to explore the footpaths and towpaths of the Pays de Gacilly than in the company of a donkey? Let Mandarine and Astérix from the Clos du Tay carry your picnic while younger members of the family ride alongside on Quitty or Câline. Alternatively, explore the lower Oust Valley on a small electric boat (no licence required), past birds in the Glénac marshes and the cliffs of the Île aux Pies.