Situated on the “Côte de Lumière” which covers 105 km² of the Atlantic coastline, the town of Les Sables d’Olonne, sub prefecture of the Vendée department, is located in the Pays de la Loire region.
Les Sables d'Olonne, the city where stone meets sea
The fishing port
- It is the 4th of France for the value of discharged products and the 13th of France for the amount of discharged products (more than 6500 tons of fish are discharged every year), It is specialised in trawl fishing (cottage industry). 68 trawlers and 200 fishermen work for this activity.
- The main species fished are sole, hake, cuttlefish, tunafish, crustacians..
- A fish auction takes place early every morning from monday to friday.
- A guided visit is possible to discover this activity : conditioning, fish auction space, etc
La Chaume, fishing quarter
La Chaume is the oldest quarter of the town – formerly, it was a rocky island named Vertime Island that joined the mainland during the Middle Ages. The inhabitants have a supposed spanish origin cause many moorish people, thrown out of Spain, settled here all along the coast. Successively, Barbarians, Normans and Bénédictins Monks stayed and lived there.
Today, this quarter is still the fishermen’s quarter with its little houses, its embankments, lighthouses, its church and ex- votos (little wooden boats hanging up), its typical fresco situated on the churchsquare (painting the local atmosphere), the Péris en Mer Memorial near St Nicolas Priory, sardine sailors on the quay during high season, the bars with their local language.
Walking guided tours
In English with tasting of local food specialities, in summer. Booking compulsory at the tourist office of les Sables d'Olonne.
D'code les Sables
With your smartphone, open the eye and follow the 50 QR codes punctuating the city! Take unusual walks into the history of a place, a monument, a tradition or sablais character.
Holder of the nautical seaside resort mark since 1987, les Sables d’Olonne has many equipments of quality and greet many national and international entertainments. Port Olona is the pleasure port of Sables d'Olonne.
Further to the development of pleasure port activities in the 80’s, the harbour is enlarged to welcome 1100 boats. It becomes thus the 1st pleasure port of the Vendée area. A few years later, a new pleasure space is created near the fishing harbour, along the Guiné and Garnier quays. A dryport is now planned to get 2000 mooring rings.
The nautical pole
Les Sables d’Olonne has a sailing school « école de voile », a cruising school « école de croisière » and some nautical clubs. The sailing school suggests different training courses (sail and other slide sports) : private or collective courses on the sea or on the lake (depending on activities and level)
Sea Water Therapy and open-air swimming pool
The seabaths moda arrived with the first trains in the 19th century. It’s always fashionable with seawater therapy and bathing in the seawater swimming pool, situated on the sea front.
The sea water therapy center « Thalassothérapie » from les Sables d’Olonne, linked to the Hôtel Mercure Hotel, suggests cures with or without accommodation : young mummy, slimness, anti-stress, beauty. The Piscine du Remblai (Remblai swimming pool), open air – seawater at 29 °C, is on disposal with a jacuzzi and indoor balneo space.
The cultural life
Monuments : Notre Dame de Bon Port church, classified Monument Historique, built in the 17th century ; Notre Dame d’Olonne; le Château de Pierre Levée, built in the 18th century, in the Trianon style; St jean d’Orbestier Abbey founded in the 12th century, place of residence for Richard the Lionheart.
Museums Ste Croix Abbey Museum : the 5th of France for contemporary Art : works of Gaston Chaissac, Victor Brauner, Albert Marquet, Combas, Baselitz. Temporary exhibitions such as Nolde in 2009 or lectures about art history or famous artists Picasso, Dali, Camille Claudel, Rodin etc are organised at low season in the same place.
Other museums : Musée des Traditions Populaires; Musée de l’Automobile; le Musée de la Petite Gare ; le Musée de la Mer. Les Sables d’Olonne and Olonne sur mer edit every year a cultural program for low season. Singers, actors, performers come to play theater or for a concert, dance show etc.
Paintings and sculptures exhibitions take place all over the year at St Nicolas Priory, townhall, in restaurants or in the casinos.
Simenon Festival in June,
Les Marinades, nautical event in June,
Salsa del Mar Festival in July,
Souffleur d’Arundel, theater Festival in July-August,
Old trades festival at l’Ile d’Olonne in July,
La Grande Bordée, traditional festival in September,
Abracadabulles, comic strip Festival in september,
VENDEE GLOBE Sailing Race (**November 2016)**
A solo non stop sailing competition around the world, without assistance and without help.
The departure attracts thousands of people each season. A village opens to the public at Esplanade du Vendée Globe during the 3 weeks prior to departure date.
Local seafood products
- fresh fish, crustacians particularly appreciated
- salt called « white gold » until the 17th century. Many boats were coming to Les Sables from all the north of Europe to buy salt used to preserve fish on bord. There are saltmarshes in Les Sables at l’Aubraie, still producing salt.
- wine, planted during the Middle Ages by the Monks. Worthvisiting : the Michon Winecellars in Ile d’Olonne.
- All the local products can be found in the numerous restaurants on the fishing harbour or in gastronomic restaurants in the town.
From Paris (4.30) by the A11, via Le Mans (2.30), Angers by the A87 (1.30), Cholet, La Roche/Yon by the N160.
From Bordeaux (3.30) by the A10, via Saintes (2.00) by the A837, La Rochelle (1.30) by the D105 and the D949.
From Rouen (5.15) by the A13, via Caen (4.00) by the A84, Rennes (2.15) by the N137, Nantes (1.15) by the A83, then the D763 and the N160.
By TGV Paris - Nantes - Les Sables d'Olonne (3.30), (Direct TGV Paris-Les Sables) (3.25).
Nantes-Atlantique airport (1.15) & La Rochelle/Ile de Ré airport (1.15)
Les Sables d'Olonne Tourist Office
1, Promenade Joffre- BP 20146
85104 LES SABLES D’OLONNE Cedex
+33 2 51 96 85 85