Les Sables-d’Olonne is a seaside town in Western France, on the Atlantic Ocean. A subprefecture of the department of Vendée, it has the administrative level of commune. On 1 January 2019, the municipalities of Olonne-sur-Mer, Château-d’Olonne and Les Sables-d’Olonne merged together, retaining the latter name.
It is also one of the major French seaside resorts on the Atlantic coast, alongside Royan, Biarritz, Arcachon and La Baule-Escoublac.
Tourism and what to see
The Remblai (Lafargue and Clemenceau seafront), bordered by numerous nineteenth-century villas, facing the sea and appearing in the inventory of historical monuments.
Its three ports:
the fishing port (4th largest port in France after those of Lorient, Boulogne-sur-Mer and Le Guilvinec) and its auction;
the industrial port of La Cabaude in a floating basin, with 943,811 tonnes of goods having passed through in 2019;
the marina: Port Olona, home to the start of the Vendée Globe.
Several religious places, including:
the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Port church, built between 1646 and the 18th century, its west facade evokes the Renaissance; during the Revolution, it became the temple of Reason before being a granary, then it regained its vocation in 1800, located in the city center;
the Saint-Pierre church, rue des Deux-Phares;
the Sainte-Croix abbey, built from 1633 to 1639, it housed, after the departure of the sisters, the military hospital, an internment camp, a military training center, was requisitioned by the Germans and then bought by the municipality;
the Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Espérance chapel, known as Notre-Dame-des-Marins, built in 1850, houses a statue of the Virgin in polychrome wood, a former figurehead of a ship, which is said to have saved the life of Flandrine de Nassau, shipwrecked off Bourgenay. It is located at 37 rue de l’Amidonnerie;
the Protestant temple, at 14, cours Blossac.
The Passage district, between port and beach, with its old houses and narrow streets, including:
rue du Paradis (currently rue Manuel);
the rue de l’Enfer, appearing in the Guinness Book of Records of 1987 as the narrowest street in the world with 40 cm on the ground;
The district of Penotte Island, pedestrian streets and facades decorated with mosaics of shells.
Its halls and markets:
the central halls, in the heart of the city, in the Baltard style, house a daily market and a local farmers’ market, on Wednesdays and Saturdays;
the fish market, on the fishing port;
the Arago covered market.
Chaume and Aubraie districts:
The Saint-Clair castle which shelters at the top of its keep the lighthouse known as “of the tower of Arundel”;
The priory of Saint-Nicolas, place of exhibitions. Nearby, the Péris en mer memorial, a mosaic by Jacques Launois;
La Paracou, discovery of the fauna and flora of the foreshore, its old fish lock;
The Sainte-Croix Abbey Museum, the MASC (modern and contemporary art): with works by Victor Brauner, Gaston Chaissac, Philippe Cognée, Claude Viseux, Robert Combas, René Leleu, Albert Marquet, Peter Saul;
The Marin-Marais Conservatory of Music, located behind the Sainte-Croix Abbey;
The Sables-d’Olonne zoo, at La Rudelière, in lush, flowery vegetation;
The Sables-d’Olonne Blockhouse-hospital, built by the Germans in 1943 and transformed into a museum on the Second World War opened to the public in 2017.
The wide beach of Les Sables-d’Olonne is reputed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe: four km of fine sand with rocky interventions with many sport activities, bars and restaurants.
Find more than 150 shops in the pedestrian streets of downtown Les Sables d’Olonne, but also in the Arago and La Chaume districts. Traders offer a wide choice of ready-to-wear, luggage, shoes, jewelry, delicatessen, perfumery.
Around Les Sables, shopping areas in Olonne sur Mer and the Château d’Olonne welcome you with major brands.
There are three Michelin list restaurants in the city:
La Cuisine de Bertrand, 22 quai de Franqueville, 36 – 46 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
La Suite S’il Vous Plaît, 20 boulevard Franklin-Roosevelt, 16 – 54 EUR • Modern Cuisine
Cabestan, 17 quai René-Guiné, 24 – 59 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
Transport and how to get to?
The nearest international airport to Jard-sur-Mer is Nantes (NTE). The airfield Sables-d’Olonne-Talmont (sport aviation) is located in the new town of Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée, a few kilometers south of the center of Sables-d’Olonne.
The town is served by the Sables-d’Olonne station which receives daily TER Pays de la Loire trains, to or from Nantes or La Roche-sur-Yon, and a TER “train of the beaches” set up in 2013 from or to Saumur via Bressuire running in summer from May to September. The town is also served by daily TGVs to or from Paris-Montparnasse, via Nantes and La Roche-sur-Yon.
Shortest distances by car:
From La Baule-Escoublac: 2 h 5 min (133 km) via D213
From Saint-Nazaire: 2 h (117 km) via D32
From Nantes (tolls): 1 h 24 min (106 km) via A83, D763 and D160
From Cognac (tolls): 2 h 38 min (237 km) via A83
From Angoulême (tolls): 2 h 57 min (265 km) via A83
From Arcachon (tolls): 3 h 57 min (401 km) via A10
From Royan: 2 h 40 min (172 km) via D949
From Biarritz (tolls): 5 h 14 min (535 km) via A63 and A10
From Bayonne (tolls): 5 h 4 min (520 km) via A63 and A10
From Dax (tolls): 4 h 43 min (482 km) via A10
From Saumur (tolls): 2 h 6 min (180 km) via A87
From Bordeaux (tolls): 3 h 24 min (336 km) via A10
From La Rochelle: 1 h 49 min (104 km) via D949
From Toulouse (tolls): 5 h 25 min (573 km) via A62 and A10
From Carcassonne (tolls): 6 h 9 min (664 km) via A62 and A10
From Monaco (tolls): 10 h 38 min (1,153 km) via A62
From Nice (tolls): 10 h 23 min (1,131 km) via A62
From Cannes (tolls): 10 h 10 min (1,104 km) via A62
From Saint-Tropez (tolls): 10 h 9 min (1,077 km) via A62
From Marseille (tolls): 8 h 54 min (974 km) via A62
From Avignon (tolls): 8 h 13 min (901 km) via A62
From Montpellier (tolls): 7 h 26 min (813 km) via A62
From Béziers (tolls): 6 h 51 min (751 km) via A62
From Perpignan (tolls): 7 h 1 min (777 km) via A62
From Narbonne (tolls): 6 h 36 min (721 km) via A62
From Andorra (tolls): 7 h 33 min (754 km) via A62
Area: 86 sq. km
Population: 44 017
Time: Central European UTC +1
GPS coordinates: 46°29′50″N 1°47′00″W
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