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A general view of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
A general view of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
Coat of arms of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
Coat of arms
Location of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is located in France
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is located in Pays de la Loire
Coordinates: 46°41′54″N 1°56′22″W / 46.6983°N 1.9394°W / 46.6983; -1.9394Coordinates: 46°41′54″N 1°56′22″W / 46.6983°N 1.9394°W / 46.6983; -1.9394
RegionPays de la Loire
ArrondissementLes Sables-d'Olonne
IntercommunalityCôte de Lumière
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Patrick Nayl (PR)
10.25 km2 (3.96 sq mi)
 • Density750/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
85222 /85800
Elevation0–28 m (0–92 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France.

It is situated on the Côte de Lumière. The community originated in 1967 from the unification of two communities on either side of the estuary of the river the Vie, Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie and Croix-de-Vie.

Known for its important fishing harbor (specializing in sardines), since 1982 Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is also classified as a seaside resort.[2]


In the ninth century, the monks of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard settled in what was then called Sidunum, a priory and a fortified church.[3] In the Middle Ages, the city, organized around the main street (now the Rue Torterue) became an important port, capable of accommodating ships with a capacity of one hundred tons.

Croix-de-Vie appeared on the right bank of the Vie, when the Duke of Montausier granted Saint-Gilles plots of land on the "small island" so they could build their homes.[3] In 1610, Marie Beaucaire built the large pier and the wharf and then a chapel from 1611 to 1613. This building was used for worship until the construction of Sainte-Croix Church in 1896 which is used today.

In 1622, King Louis XIII of France spent dinner one night in Croix de Vie, in a mansion located what is now in General de Gaulle street.[3]

Although Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie was three hours from Nantes and ten hours from Paris, the development of railways from the 1880s increasingly allowed holidaymakers to reach the seaside town. A trade union initiative was created in 1922.[2] On January 23, 1967, Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie and Croix-de-Vie merged to create the new municipality of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.[4] The fusion was the idea of Marcel Ragon and Charles Grasset. Ragon became the first mayor of the new municipality while the latter, who had served as deputy mayor of Croix-de-Vie from March 1965 until December 1966, went on to serve under Ragon as deputy mayor of the new municipality until 1995.[5]

In 1982, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie was classified as a resort.[2]



Location of the canton of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (in red) within the Vendée.

Situated on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, along the côte de Lumière about 70 kilometres from Nantes, 320 from Bordeaux, 450 from Paris and 600 from Lyon,[6] Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie covers an area of 10.5 square kilometres.[7]

It is bordered by the communes of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez to the north, Le Fenouiller to the north east, Givrand to the southeast, and Bretignolles-sur-Mer to the south.[8]

It was the chef-lieu of the former canton of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, which had an area of 29,192 hectares and contained 14 communes:[9] L'Aiguillon-sur-Vie, Brem-sur-Mer, Bretignolles-sur-Mer, La Chaize-Giraud, Coëx, Commequiers, Le Fenouiller, Givrand, Landevieille, Notre-Dame-de-Riez, Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Saint-Maixent-sur-Vie and Saint-Révérend.


The meteorological measurements began in 1877 in Saint-Gilles.[10]

The climate of the Vendée department is oceanic. The coast experiences significant rainfall in winter and a few storms. Under the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, the climate is cool in summer. However, the Vendée is one of the sunniest departments of France in terms of the energy received, with 1268 kWh per m² per year.[11]



Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie church (1896)

The town has two Catholic churches (one on either side of the river), the churches of Saint-Gilles et Sainte-Croix. Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is part of the diocese of Luçon, which is part of the Ecclesiastical province of Rennes.[12] It is the seat of a deanery of four parishes: Sainte Anne de Riez (around the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez), Saint Jean du Gué Gorand (Coëx), Saint Nicolas de l'Océan (Bretignolles-sur-Mer), and Notre Dame de la Vie (Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie).[13] The latter, Notre Dame de la Vie, has four bell towers—in the churches of Saint-Gilles and Sainte-Croix, as well as those of Fenouiller and Givrand.[14]

In the middle of the sixteenth century, a protestant church was founded in Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie; it was destroyed in November 1665, as one of seventeen protestant churches in the Bas-Poitou, the region that corresponds to today's Vendée.[15][16]

The Brotherhood of the Sardine[edit]

The Brotherhood of the Sardine (Confrérie de la Sardine) was founded in 1991. Headed by a grandmaster, it is devoted to the promotion of the seaside resort and the celebration of products from the sea, especially the sardine, which has become a speciality of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.[17] Notable "sympathizers" include sailor Michel Desjoyeaux, actress Isabel Otero, and the former Prime Minister of France François Fillon.[18]


  • Beneteau - boat manufacturer, founded in 1884 in Croix-de-Vie


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2017". INSEE. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d (in French)"Un peu d'histoire" (in French). Office de Tourisme de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  3. ^ a b c (in French) (Le Petit Futé Vendée 2008, p.328)
  4. ^ "Historique de la Vendée" [History of the Vendée] (in French). SPLAF. Retrieved 24 13 July 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ "Nécrologie : Charles Grasset, ancien maire adjoint - Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie" [Obituary : Charles Grasset, former deputy mayor of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie] (in French). Ouest-France. Retrieved 23 January 2009.[dead link]
  6. ^ (in French) « Venir à Saint Gilles Croix de Vie » Archived 2007-12-24 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ (in French) « Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie » sur, consulté le 2 juillet 2009
  8. ^ (in French) « Carte des cantons et communes du département de la Vendée » Archived 2012-08-30 at the Wayback Machine (PDF) on the site of the Conseil général de la Vendée, consulté le 2 juillet 2009
  9. ^ (in French) « Canton : Saint Gilles Croix de Vie » on the site of the Maison des communes de Vendée, consulté le 2 juillet 2009
  10. ^ (in French) Catherine Corbin et Franck Baraer (Météo-France), « Étude des conditions climatiques de la Baie de Bourgneuf » Archived 2007-10-09 at the Wayback Machine (PDF) sur le site officiel de l'association pour le développement du bassin versant de la Baie de Bourgneuf, mars 2003, p.4 et 30
  11. ^ (in French) Alliance Soleil, « Étude du potentiel vendéen et des applications possibles de l'énergie solaire thermique et photovoltaïque » Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine (PDF) sur le site officiel du Conseil général de la Vendée, février 2007, p.5-6
  12. ^ Castet, Alain; Michel Santier. "Diocèse de Luçon". Conférence des évêques de France. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  13. ^ "Notre Dame de la Vie". Diocèse de Luçon en Vendée. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  14. ^ "Horaires des Messes". Notre Dame de la Vie. Retrieved 2009-08-04.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "L'Eglise Réformée de France à La Roche sur Yon et en Vendée ouest". Église Réformée de France. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  16. ^ Brochet, Louis (1902). Histoire de la Vendée du Bas Poitou en France.
  17. ^ "Quelques mots du grand maître". Confrérie de la sardine. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  18. ^ Ané, Claire (2009-07-19). "A la Confrérie de la sardine, des VRP bénévoles". Le Monde. Archived from the original on 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  19. ^ Orthographe de Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez au XVIIe
  20. ^ (in French) Grand Dictionnaire des femmes de l'Ancienne France, « MARIE DE LUXEMBOURG DUCHESSE DE MERCOEUR et de Penthevre, Princesse de Martigues » Archived 2008-04-05 at the Wayback Machine sur le site officiel de l'association des société internationale pour l'étude des femmes de l'Ancien Régime, consulté le 15 juillet 2009
  21. ^ (in French) Philippe Gilbert, «  La légende vendéenne de Pierre Desproges » sur (Ouest-France), 18 avril 2008
  22. ^ (in French) « Le premier océanographe de l'Histoire : Pierre Garcie-Ferrande, père de la cartographie marine » Archived 2008-11-29 at the Wayback Machine, le Journal de la Vendée, Conseil général de Vendée, octobre 2007