The largest seaside town in Vendée, Les Sables-d’Olonne is also the departure city of the Vendée Globe. But not only.
Unquestionably, Les Sables-d’Olonne is one of the best known seaside resorts in France . And one of those who deserve to stay there this summer.
The place is ideal for recharging one’s batteries after this difficult start to the year. For at least five good reasons.
1. A city turned towards the sea
The second city of Vendée by its population, Les Sables-d’Olonne is the largest city on the coast of the department. The city has been facing the sea since its origins. Its still active fishing port is a vivid illustration of this.
But it is to tourism that the city owes its recent development, largely thanks to its large sandy beach often designated as ” one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe ” at the time when the fashion for sea made its appearance, that is to say in the 1860s.
Facing the sea, Les Sables-d’Olonne is also so by water sports, via a renowned marina and especially the hosting of prestigious nautical races.
Les Sables-d’Olonne is the starting point for the biggest sailing race in the world: the Vendée Globe , a solo and non-stop competition around the world. The start of the next edition will be given on November 8th, 2020 and the city is already paving with the colours of the event.
Good to know
A city starting from the Vendée Globe, Les Sables-d’Olonne hosts two official shops related to nautical racing, located on the Font de Mer (promenade of Admiral Lafargue) and in the city center (rue des Halles) .
2. In the heart of nature
If the large beach has done a lot for the reputation of the city, we must not overlook the charm of the many wild beaches that stretch along the coast of Sablais. Beaches that border the national forest of Olonne-sur-Mer which stretches for more than 11 km.
Not far from this emerald setting stretch no less than 1400 ha of marshland. The salt workers are just waiting to welcome you to discover the quality of their salt.
Further south, the Cayola site offers a splendid view of the ocean. The Well of Hell, a natural fault in the rocks, is particularly worth seeing.
A vast network of cycle paths and pedestrian paths makes it possible to take advantage of these natural sites in complete safety. Hikers will have a great time.
Do not miss
The coastal cycle paths allow an unforgettable bike ride, between sea, forest and marsh. Accessible to everyone, families and experienced cyclists alike, these trails cover the entire Vendée coast. The department of Vendée offers no less than 1,800 km of cycle paths through the department.
3. A maritime heritage
Unlike many seaside resorts, the town of Sables d’Olonne has been able to preserve some of its villas of the XIX th and early XX th typical of the era of the rise of seaside tourism.
Not far away, we will stroll with pleasure in the alleys of the Ile-Penotte district, where the facades of the houses are covered with shell frescoes. Nearby, do not hesitate to take the rue de l’Enfer: it was listed in 1986 in the Guinness Book of Records as the narrowest street in the world.
The fishing port, fourth in France for the value of the products landed, and the marina are all sites to visit and which testify to the richness of the Sablais heritage.
The picturesque La Chaume district, accessible by sea bus, “the ferryman”, with its old fishermen’s houses and its alleys. The historic cradle of Sables-d’Olonne.
4. The pleasures of the table
The trouspinette, a Vendée aperitif par excellence, will go very well with a piece of préfou, garlic buttered bread, another emblematic product of the department, as well as Vendée ham.
If it is obviously possible to taste these Vendée specialties in Sables-d’Olonne, other local products just waiting to be discovered: Brem wine or even salt from Île-d’Olonne.
The fishing port requires, impossible not to succumb to the temptation to enjoy the products of the sea and in particular the sole, emblematic fish of the station.
To take advantage of this, there is no shortage of choices, if only in the numerous restaurants located along the quays of the fishing port and La Chaume, of all types and accessible to all budgets, from the caravan to Fish and Chips at the gourmet restaurant.
Le Remblai also has its share of establishments, notably its beach bars and restaurants.
Not to be missed
No less than three covered halls in Sables-d’Olonne for shopping: Arago, the Halle de la Chaume and the Halles central, built after the end of the Second Empire, and located close to the main beach. Seafood lovers will appreciate the pilot fish market at the entrance to the fishing port.
5. At the heart of a Vendée to discover
If Vendée is one of the first tourist departments in France, it is not by chance. The department is full of sites to discover and Les Sables-d’Olonne, served by the dual carriageway coming from La Roche-sur-Yon, is one of the municipalities best located to discover them.
The city is located 1 hour and 15 minutes’ drive from the famous Puy du Fou park, an emblematic site of the department.
Noirmoutier Island, renowned for its setting and its submersible roadway, the Passage du Gois, is 60 km to the north.
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, capital of the sardine, is about thirty kilometres away.
The Poitevin Marsh Park , Green Venice, is 80 km south of Les Sables-d’Olonne.
The superb Veillon beach at Talmont-Saint-Hilaire is only a few handfuls of kilometres away.