Saint-Jean-de-Monts and its famous beach of eight kilometers

Saint-Jean-de-Monts (Fr. Saint-Jean-de-Monts) is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France.

Bordered by a long beach of eight kilometers, it is a seaside resort on the Atlantic coast that is popular in summer.

Before the Revolution, Saint-Jean was placed under the domination of the lords of Bois Masson. Then, at the end of the Vendée wars, the town rose from its ruins and Napoleon I, by decree of Vendémiaire Year XII (12 October 1803), set up a first college there. It will be removed after ten years and transferred to Bourbon-Vendée (today La Roche-sur-Yon). Its premises now serve as a town hall.

Work aimed at stabilizing the sands and preventing them from invading the hinterland was undertaken under the Second Empire. In 1862, the fixing of the dunes and their management were entrusted to the Department of Water and Forests, taking over from the Department of Bridges and Roads.

From 1867, first bathers came to the beaches of Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Since 1892, it has inspired generations of artists. A small hotel as well as some twenty villas will be built quickly. At the end of the 19th century, Saint-Jean-de-Monts already had 4,500 inhabitants.

Then the beach district is transformed, other hotels are built, as well as a private estate of six hectares. Before the First World War, there were about a hundred chalets. The population does not reach a thousand people there.

In 1923, the railway Bourgneuf Line – Les Sables-d’Olonne further facilitated the arrival of summer visitors. The 1920s saw Saint-Jean-de-Monts take off. The spread of the automobile, the coastal train and the fact that seaside stays are gaining new social environments are the explanation. About ten hotels opened successively, most of them in the beach area. Stores are appearing and the number of villas continues to increase. Two new housing estates are created in the coastal zone.

The interwar period also saw the fashion for summer camps and camping as a new type of tourism appeared.

On the eve of the Second World War, Saint-Jean-de-Monts was already a fairly important resort for the time: the number of summer visitors is estimated at 5,000.

Despite the closure of the railway line in 1947, Saint-Jean-de-Monts encouraged its tourist development. A vast waterfront development program was undertaken in the 1950s with the construction of the embankment and the Palais des Congrès.

Tourism and main attractions

Interesting places and monuments

  • The Church of St. John, the oldest parts of which date back to the fourteenth century, has been rebuilt several times since. It remains nevertheless the oldest monument of the village;

  • The pier on the beach (build in 1964) acts as a pontoon over the sea, and is a popular location for fishermen and walkers, although, unfortunately, during the storm of February 2010, the pier was significantly damaged. It has been completely deconstructed during the winter 2011.

Cultural Heritage

  • The sculpture Les Oiseaux de mer, the last work of Jan and Joël Martel, in memory of Auguste Lepère and Charles Milcendeau;

  • The Bather, a sculpture by Henry Murail, symbolizes the predominance of water in this seaside resort. It was inaugurated on December 11, 1999;
  • The Vasais farm, headquarters of Arexcpo (Association for research and expression for popular culture) in Vendée;
  • The monument to the dead representing a flame, sculpted by Robert Lange.

Natural heritage

  • a beach eight kilometers long and very flat, which makes it the largest beach in Vendée, ideal for sand yachting, windsurfing and paddle boarding;
  • a 700 ha state forest planted under Napoleon III;
  • the Breton Vendée marshes.

Leisure facilities

  • Nautical base restructured and renovated in 2009. Offers sand yachting, catamaran, kite-surfing;
  • Palais des Congrès Odysséa renovated in 2009;
  • Océabul aquatic center inaugurated in 2008;

  • Multimedia library-cultural space renovated in 2010;
  • Marine thermal baths;
  • 18 hole golf course;
  • Casino;
  • Magic Parc, leisure park;
  • Atlantic Racecourse;

  • Mons drugstore, Maison Averty founded in 1928, place of cultural exhibitions;
  • La Ferme du Vasais, cultural activities and local heritage with Arexcpo.

Beaches 

The beach is the great attraction of Saint-Jean-de-Monts and has made it famous. It offers large spaces because it is more than eight kilometers long.  The waves are low and the water level remains low for several hundred meters. During high tides, the beach area is very large and offers an ideal playground for fishermen on foot and sportsmen of all kinds.

Shopping

Shopping in Saint-Jean-de-Monts is not priority on a tourist program.

Restaurants

There are no restaurants in Saint-Jean-de-Monts marked with Michelin stars.

Transport and how to get to?

The nearest international airport 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.

Shortest distances by car:

From La Baule-Escoublac: 1 h 20 min (89.5 km) via D213

From Saint-Nazaire: 1 h 14 min (74.0 km) via D213

From Pornic: 51 min (47.5 km) via D758

From Les Sables-d’Olonne: 1 h 2 min (48.4 km) via D38

From Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie: 22 min (16.8 km) via D38

From Noirmoutier-en-l’Île: 37 min (34.4 km) via D38

From Jard-sur-Mer: 1 h 17 min (68.8 km) via D38

From Nantes: 1 h 7 min (73.1 km) via D117

From Cognac (tolls): 3 h 8 min (256 km) via A83

From Angoulême (tolls): 3 h 26 min (284 km) via A83

From Arcachon (tolls): 4 h 24 min (421 km) via A10

From Royan: 3 h 14 min (213 km) via D948

From Biarritz (tolls): 5 h 35 min (554 km) via A63 and A10

From Bayonne (tolls): 5 h 21 min (540 km) via A63 and A10

From Dax (tolls): 5 h 7 min (502 km) via A10

From Saumur (tolls): 2 h 31 min (224 km) via A11

From Bordeaux (tolls): 3 h 48 min (355 km) via A10

From La Rochelle: 2 h 20 min (145 km) via D948

From Toulouse (tolls): 5 h 51 min (593 km) via A62 and A10

From Carcassonne (tolls): 6 h 40 min (683 km) via A62 and A10

From Monaco (tolls): 11 h 7 min (1,173 km) via A62

From Nice (tolls): 10 h 52 min (1,151 km) via A62

From Cannes (tolls): 10 h 34 min (1,124 km) via A62

From Saint-Tropez (tolls): 10 h 35 min (1,096 km) via A62

From Marseille (tolls): 9 h 19 min (993 km) via A62

From Avignon (tolls): 8 h 39 min (920 km) via A62

From Montpellier (tolls): 7 h 55 min (832 km) via A62

From Béziers (tolls): 7 h 23 min (771 km) via A62

From Perpignan (tolls): 7 h 32 min (797 km) via A62

From Narbonne (tolls): 7 h 8 min (741 km) via A62

From Andorra (tolls): 8 h 4 min (773 km) via A62

The city is served daily by the Aléop TER trains operated by SNCF with the support of the Pays de la Loire regional council. These connections are provided by trains or coaches.

Main information

Area: 61.72 sq. km

Population: 8 600

Languages: French

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

GPS coordinates: 46°47′37″N 2°03′31″W

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