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Sardines from Saint Gilles Croix de Vie – the blue fish heritage

When visiting Saint Gilles Croix de Vie you are bound to hear about its local star, a little blue fish! Sardine fishing has a long tradition in this charming seaside town dating back to the 17th century. To date it remains the largest sardine fishing port on the west coast landing 2,500 tonnes each year. The well-known La Perle des Dieux cannery has an important part in promoting this little fish. A visit to the museum will explain this intriguing history…

Sardine fishing at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie dates back to the early 17th century. The locals quickly learned how to preserve this small blue fish so that it could be stored for a longer period of time. This led to the appearance of the now-famous, tinned sardines preserved in oil. The charming seaside town of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie is today the largest sardine fishing port on the Atlantic coast.

Each year over 2,500 tonnes of sardines are landed at the port before being processed. In 2000, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie sardines received the Red label award, and is the first wild fish to receive such an honour.

visite conserverie vendee

Discover this little blue fish and a local savoir faire !

The Atelier de la Sardine has 3 aspects: a museum, an art gallery, and a shop. This site was created by the "La Perle des Dieux", an important canning factory, in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, since 1887. Visitors will discover the secrets behind the Vendée’s sardine industry. But above all, it tells the story of the Gendreau family, who have preserved their cognisance and traditions for over four generations.

The museum traces the history of sardine fishing in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie from the 17th century to the present day. Beyond fishing, visitors discover the evolution of the cannery, which, thanks to its 130 years of expertise, has allowed this small blue fish to win our hearts. Here you will also encounter the men and women who have made this fish a local star with videos, testimonials, sea shanties, model boats, hidden information, anecdotes... a real eye-opening experience! It’s no wonder that the sardines of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie are deemed to have a remarkable flavour.

Entrance is free.

This site was created by the Conserverie La Perle des Dieux, a leading cannery in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie since 1887. It is above all the story of the Gendreau family, which has been perpetuating know-how and tradition for four generations.

Also in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, on the port, the Escale Pêche interpretation centre offers a stopover in the world of sea fishing. In this unique place, in the heart of the fish market, a permanent exhibition "The journey of the fish: from the ocean to the plate" allows you to discover the richness of the fishing industry.

Read more about Escale Pêche

Did you know?

The blue fishes painted on the ground of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie form a 2 km walk to discover the town in a different way. You pass by 14 points of interest in the town on the theme of the sardine, its emblem.

Read more


Boite de Sardine et Tartine

It’s time for the little blue fish’s festival!

In April, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie celebrates the “Printemps de la Sardine” which marks the beginning of the fishing season. Various activities take place for almost a month in relation to this little blue fish. There are exhibitions, tours, conferences, fishing trips and of course “sardine tasting”!

The celebration ends with "The Arrival of the Spring Sardine", a festive day in fish market at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie.