La Baule beach
|Region||Pays de la Loire|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Yves Metaireau|
|Area1||22.19 km2 (8.57 sq mi)|
|• Density||730/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|INSEE/Postal code||440055 / 44500|
|Elevation||1–55 m (3.3–180.4 ft)
(avg. 6 m or 20 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
A century-old seaside resort in southern Brittany with beautiful villas, casino, luxury hotels and an original mix of old Breton and exclusive seaside culture with a 12 kilometer-long sand beach, La Baule has long been home to French high society's seaside residences. During July and August each year, the population of La Baule increases dramatically with many Parisians staying for weeks and regular day-trippers from Nantes. Despite this, La Baule is still virtually unknown outside of France.
In 1779, a violent storm buried the village under sand. La Baule-Escoublac was rebuilt further inland. At that time, the very unstable dunes were occupied only by customs officers, who gave them the name of Bôle, a term indicating an easily flooded maritime meadow.
The birth of a seaside resort
Just before the inauguration of the line, Hennecart bought 40 ha of dunes for the Society of Escoublac Dunesachète (Société des dunes d'Escoublac) and commissioned local architect Georges Lafont to design the new town. Lafont designed a long sand promenade named Avenue de la Gare (today Avenue du Général-de-Gaulle) and a chapel (see picture). After the railroad opened Lafont built more than 250 villas, taking the lead in the development of the seaside resort.
The rise of a seaside resort
In 1918, casino business magnate François André (see Groupe Lucien Barrière) set up the redesigning of the La Baule resort based on the Deauville model by combining casinos, luxury hotels and sports facilities all on one site.
In the 1920s, Parisian businessman Louis Lajarrige designed the very successful Bois d'Amour district at La Baule-les-Pins and formed an agreement with the railroad company to move the rails away from the seaside to ensure a direct access to the beach. On July 27, 1927 the new stations of La Baule-les-Pins and La Baule-Escoublac (see picture) were inaugurated while the old station was torn down to create a flower garden square. By that time, La Baule has become a very fashionable seaside resort.
The Poche de Saint-Nazaire
During World War II La Baule formed part of the protective stretch of coast leading to the nearby harbour city of Saint-Nazaire, home of one of the biggest U-Boat stations the Germans ever built. It not only serviced the German submarine fleet, but was also the only dry dock on the Atlantic capable of housing the German battleship Tirpitz, one of two Bismarck-class ships built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II.
La Baule and the surrounding areas were heavily occupied by the Germans throughout World War II. During the occupation a large number of Jewish residents and resistance members were deported to the concentration camps; in La Baule itself 32 Jewish men, women and children - the youngest of whom was 3 years old - were deported (with the assistance of the local French police) to Auschwitz where they all perished. Although there is a memorial in the Parc de la Victoire in La Baule to 40 named war victims, there is no mention there or on any other memorial of the 32 Jewish deportees.
Such was the importance attached to the area by the Germans that their troops kept fighting in La Baule and Saint-Nazaire for nine months longer than in the rest of the department, eventually surrendering on May 11, 1945 (3 days after the German unconditional surrender), making this one of the last liberated parts of France. This episode is called Poche de Saint-Nazaire from the French expression poche de resistance.
One of France's most exclusive seaside resorts during the first half of the 20th century, La Baule has become much more democratized since the 1960s. Today the resort mixes wealthy family villas, luxury hotels and seaside apartment buildings, creating an original and unique atmosphere of social diversity. The nearby region has long been an area of contact and conflict between Breton culture and that of the neighbouring Loire valley, and consequently is rich with historic places, castles (Nantes castle), walled cities (Guerande), not to mention 19th century seaside resorts, such as Quiberon, and many typical Breton fishing villages (Pornichet).
The Grand Prix de la Baule was a Grand Prix motor racing event held here during the 1930s. Today, the Grand Prix de la Ville de La Baule is a prestigious equestrian show jumping competition that is part of the international Equestrian Nations Cup series.
The commune of Escoublac has achieved a new vitality with the restoration of its civic center and the installation of many attractions.
- Cimetière militaire britannique d'Escoublac-La Baule
- The "Avenue de Gaulle", with shops and restaurants
- The architecture of some villas
- The beach, which is part of the Bay from Le Pouliguen to Pornichet
- The nightlife with the casino and the clubs
Twin towns – Sister cities
La Baule-Escoublac is twinned with:
- Communes of the Loire-Atlantique department
- La Baule – Guérande Peninsula
- Parc naturel régional de Brière
- The chapel has been known since 1981 as Sainte-Anne chapel
- Vichy France and the Jews by Michael Robert Marrus, Robert O. Paxton, ISBN 0-8047-2499-7
- MAPICA.org accessdate:1 April 2014
- Musee Aeronautique Presqu'ile Cote d'Amour accessdate:1 April 2014
- "Miasta partnerskie i zaprzyjaźnione Nowego Sącza". Urząd Miasta Nowego Sącza (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
- "British towns twinned with French towns [via WaybackMachine.com]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to La Baule-Escoublac.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for La Baule-Escoublac.|