Les Sables-d'Olonne

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Les Sables-d'Olonne
View of Les Sables-d'Olonne
View of Les Sables-d'Olonne
Coat of arms of Les Sables-d'Olonne
Advocata nostra, ora pro nobis
Location of Les Sables-d'Olonne
Les Sables-d'Olonne is located in France
Les Sables-d'Olonne
Les Sables-d'Olonne
Les Sables-d'Olonne is located in Pays de la Loire
Les Sables-d'Olonne
Les Sables-d'Olonne
Coordinates: 46°29′50″N 1°47′00″W / 46.4972°N 1.7833°W / 46.4972; -1.7833Coordinates: 46°29′50″N 1°47′00″W / 46.4972°N 1.7833°W / 46.4972; -1.7833
RegionPays de la Loire
ArrondissementLes Sables-d'Olonne
CantonLes Sables-d'Olonne
IntercommunalityLes Sables-d'Olonne Agglomeration
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Yannick Moreau
86.07 km2 (33.23 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2018)[1]
 • Density520/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
85194 /85100, 85340, 85180
Elevation0–59 m (0–194 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Les Sables-d'Olonne (French pronunciation: [le sabl dɔlɔn] (audio speaker iconlisten); French meaning: "The Sands of Olonne") is a seaside town in Western France, on the Atlantic Ocean. A subprefecture of the department of Vendée, Pays de la Loire, it has the administrative level of commune. On 1 January 2019, the municipalities of Olonne-sur-Mer, Château-d'Olonne and Les Sables-d'Olonne merged, retaining the latter name.[2]

Location and geography[edit]

Les Sables-d'Olonne is a seaside town in western France, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated on the coast between La Rochelle and Saint-Nazaire, near the coastal terminus of the A87 that connects it and nearby communities to La Roche-sur-Yon, Cholet, and Angers to the northeast. The nearest major metropolitan center of France, to Les Sables-d'Olonne, is Nantes, to the north (approximately 105 km, by road).[3]

It is at the level of administrative division in the French Republic of a commune[4]—roughly equivalent to civil townships in the United States[citation needed]—and is a sub-prefecture of the Department of Vendée.[5]


Les Sables-d'Olonne (pronounced [le sabl dolɔn]) is French for "the sands of Olonne". It was founded in 1218 from Havre d'Olonne by Savary I de Mauléon, the Lord of Mauléon, Sénéchal of Poitou and prince of Talmont.[citation needed] Its history is tied to the ocean for which it has served as a port and point of maritime commerce.[citation needed] Louis XI separated Les Sables d'Olonne from the town of Olonne in 1472.[citation needed] It became the largest cod-fishing port in France, with 14,000 inhabitants, in the 17th century.[citation needed] During the French Revolution, unlike the surrounding Vendée, the city supported the Republic, and so was often besieged—unsuccessfully, because of its port.[citation needed] The current local tourism industry traces its roots to bathing establishments, first begun in 1825. Rail service reached Les Sables on 29 December 1866, via the line from La Roche-sur-Yon, Bressuire, Saumur, and Tours;[citation needed] express service to and from Paris would arrive in 1971.[citation needed] The city's port served as a base port for American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.[6]Germany occupied Les Sables d'Olonne during World War II[citation needed] and, upon evacuation of that army at war's end, the German army made an effort to destroy the port, and mined the harbor.[citation needed]


The population data in the table and graph below refer to the commune of Les Sables-d'Olonne proper, in its geography at the given years. The populations of Olonne-sur-Mer and Château-d'Olonne, absorbed in 2019, are not included.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 5,039—    
1800 5,168+0.36%
1806 5,723+1.71%
1821 4,698−1.31%
1831 4,906+0.43%
1836 4,778−0.53%
1841 5,076+1.22%
1846 6,280+4.35%
1851 5,983−0.96%
1856 6,464+1.56%
1861 6,996+1.59%
1866 7,352+1.00%
1872 8,292+2.03%
1876 9,347+3.04%
1881 10,420+2.20%
1886 11,070+1.22%
1891 11,557+0.86%
1896 11,826+0.46%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 12,244+0.70%
1906 12,673+0.69%
1911 14,005+2.02%
1921 13,387−0.45%
1926 13,627+0.36%
1931 13,660+0.05%
1936 14,536+1.25%
1946 17,650+1.96%
1954 17,761+0.08%
1962 18,401+0.44%
1968 18,093−0.28%
1975 17,463−0.51%
1982 16,100−1.15%
1990 15,830−0.21%
1999 15,532−0.21%
2007 15,433−0.08%
2012 14,271−1.55%
2017 14,545+0.38%
Source: EHESS[7] and INSEE (2007-2017)[8][9]

Interests and events[edit]

The Vendée Globe yacht race, which takes place every four years, starts and ends at Les Sables-d'Olonne.[citation needed]

The Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix is a municipal museum situated in a 17th-century building that is devoted to modern and contemporary art, and that has "Musée de France" status.[citation needed] It includes works of Gaston Chaissac (1910–1964) and Victor Brauner (1903–1966).[citation needed][why?]

Les Sables-d'Olonne is the setting for 1948 novel Les Vacances de Maigret [fr], by Georges Simenon.[citation needed]

The town is the birthplace of pirate François l'Olonnais.[citation needed][why?]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Les Sables-d'Olonne is twinned with:[10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2018". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2020.
  2. ^ Arrêté préfectoral 17 August 2018 (in French)
  3. ^ "Distances, directions, consommation et prix de carburant, les péages, limites de vitesse, France et l'Europe".
  4. ^ "Ville de les Sables-d'Olonne, information sur la mairie de les Sables-d'Olonne et sur le territoire, 85100 - Commune-Mairie.fr".
  5. ^ "La sous-préfecture des Sables d'Olonne". 29 April 2021.
  6. ^ Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War, American Expeditionary Forces: General Headquarters Armies, Army Corps Services of Supply Separate Forces, Volume I (PDF). Center of Military History, United States Army. 1937. p. 55. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  7. ^ Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Les Sables-d'Olonne, EHESS. (in French)
  8. ^ Populations légales 2012, INSEE
  9. ^ Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2017, INSEE
  10. ^ "Jumelages". lessablesdolonne.fr (in French). Les Sables-d'Olonne. Retrieved 2021-03-14.

External links[edit]