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24 hours in Les Sables d’Olonne

Posted the 27 May 2021
Leisure & Activities
Culture & heritage

Les Sables d'Olonne is the largest seaside resort in the Vendée and a mecca for sailing and yachting. It is also the starting and finishing point of the legendary, single handed, non-assisted round the world yacht race, the Vendée Globe.
Located on the Atlantic coast, this Vendean seaside resort is renowned for its fine sandy beach, and its picturesque landscapes: beautiful sand dunes, captivating marshes, and the vibrant Olonne forest... and of course not forgetting its privileged sunshine ratios. If you can only stay for a day, here is a turnkey programme to take advantage of this sandy atmosphere.

In the morning, explore Port Olona, the start and finishing point of the Vendée Globe yacht race. Then heading into the town centre, take a stroll through the “Les Halles” a charming daily market, which was designed by towns architect, Charles Smolski in 1890.

Then continuing through the pedestrian streets of the town centre, where you will come across the "Rue de l’Enfer", the narrowest street in the world (listed in the Guinness Book of World records).

You can then, go for a stroll along the “Remblai” (Seafront) to enjoy the fresh sea air and the view of the vast sandy beach. From here, you can admire the 4-sided clock a well-known landmark on the seafront before arriving at the “Île Penotte” quarter, a unique local curiosity. This quarter is worth a visit thanks to the artist Danièle Arnaud-Aubin, who since 1997 has been covering the walls with seashell frescoes.

Then take the ferry to visit La Chaume, the oldest quarter Les Sables d'Olonne.

Previously this place was called L’Ile Vertime. Here, you can enjoy two remarkable views of the Bay. The first one is the Priory of Saint Nicolas, an old chapel dating from the 11th century, dedicated to Saint-Nicolas. Then, the Tour d’Arundel, the last vestige of the fortified castle built in the 12th century by Lord d'Arundel, then English governor of Poitou, during the reign of the Plantagenets.

Further along, you will discover the Place Sainte Anne and its mural depicting the life of the neighbourhood painted by the artist, Manfred Landreau.

At lunchtime, you will find many restaurants on the Quayside in La Chaume, on the seafront or in the fishing port, when you can soak up the friendly atmosphere of the town.

In the afternoon, various options are available to you, it all depends on your state of mind and what you want to do next.

For history and heritage enthusiasts:

Visit the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, created in 1963 by Pierre Chaigneau.

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MASC) is housed in a former Benedictine priory Sainte Croix, founded in 1622. In its 2,500 m² there are exceptional collections of Georg Baselitz, Marcelle Cahn, Gaston Chaissac, Marc Desgrandchamps and Blaise Drummond...

Then explore the Blockhaus Museum.

This 350 m² museum, is a great way for the family to learn about the Second World War in the Vendée. The modern building tells the story of the region during the war, from the occupation through to its liberation. However, the authentic H118.C German hospital bunker, is the only one of its kind in France! This museum has the Welcome c’est beau ici ! label and offers tours in English and a Free kids’ treasure hunt. Little ones play the hero, as they search for the mystery person in the labyrinth of rooms. A real adventure game that adds action and fun to the tour, and everyone who solves the 8 riddles receives a certificate.

les salines

For nature lovers:

Take the direction towards "Les Salines" (link to the Welcome section) and discover with the family, during a boat trip, the history of salt in the heart of the Olonne marshes.

And at the end of the day, why not visit the Saint Nicolas wine estate belonging to Thierry Michon at Ile d´Olonne. Here, you will be introduced to a vineyard that uses biodynamie methods and where you can sample some wine.  

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