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Maritime Patrimony

History of the fishing harbour

The first stones were laid in the 15th century on the orders of Louis XI.

In the 16th century, whale fishing, and the salt, wine,  corn and sailing cloth trades made it one of the busiest harbours. Then the great cod-fishing era took off on the banks of Terre-Neuve. The fish was salted on the boat immediately after being caught, using salt from Olonne. This was then followed by the sardine and tuna fishing eras. A series of works were undertaken in the 18th century to give the fishing harbour the form we see today, with its jetties and quays…

Artisanal fishing

No less than 2 lighthouses and 7 port lights guide sailors into Les Sables d’Olonne harbour.
Small-scale fishing harbour ranking 4th nationally for the value of the produce landed (noble fish: sole, sea bass, cuttlefish), 59 boats, 170 sailors/fishermen.

To visit :
Guided tour of the fishing harbour

(in French) Let our local guides show you what happens behind the scenes at the fishing harbourin a 1 1/2 hour tour.
Explanation of the dealer’s and trader’s role, observation of sales transactions and different fish and seafood. Film showing images of today and yesteryear.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.15 am from 16th June to 15th September (only Tuesday in June and September).

Admission 2016 : 6,10€/adult, 4€/5 to 16 years.
Bookings compulsory at the Tourist Office of Les Sables d’Olonne.

Discover ...

Jetties and lighthouses

Château Saint-Clair and Arundel Tower La Chaume

Built by the Princes of Talmont in the 15th century, the château was seized by the Protestant leader, Soubise, in 1622, who had fortifications built. First a garrison under Louis XIII, then bombed in 1796 by the Anglo-Dutch, seized by the government in 1835, and finally restored between 1986 and 1994, the château currently houses the Sea Museum. The tower forms part of the Château Saint-Clair’s defences. The first port light was introduced in 1593. In the 18th century, the La Chaume lighthouse was the only lighthouse in the Vendée. Its present appearance is the result of restoration work undertaken between 1857 and 1858. When visiting the sea museum, take the unique opportunity to go to the top of the tower: stunning panoramic view Viewpoint indicator. The last lighthouse keeper left in 1995.

The grand jetty

Quai des Boucanniers
St. Nicolas jetty was first sketched as early as 1764 and completed in 1910 with the construction of the lighthouse.

The small jetty and the green lighthouse

Joffre promenade
Built in the 18th century, the small jetty protects the harbour from silting up. In the 19th century, together with the grand jetty, it served as a tow path.

L’Armandèche lighthouse

The Corniche du Nouch
Standing 36m tall and 42km wide, the lighthouse was built to replace Arundel lighthouse.

Les Barges lighthouse

The Corniche du Nouch
Designed in 1861, originally to mark the harbour entrance. It stands 24.81m high and its operation has been automated since 1970.

Guided tour

The Vendée Globe

Vendée Globe new start : 6th November 2016 at 1.02pm

Les Sables d’Olonne, the starting and finishing point of the legendary roundthe- world solo yacht race, non-stop, unaided and unassisted: the VENDEE GLO BE,
created in 1989 by Philippe Jeantot.
From one year's edition to the next, the Vendée Globe has forged its legend and the successes of its winners. Titouan Lamazou (winner of the Vendée Globe 1989-1990), Alain Gautier (1992-1993), Christophe Auguin (1996-1997), Michel Desjoyeaux (2000- 2001) Vincent Riou (2004-2005), Michel Desjoyeaux (2008-2009) and François Gabart (2012-2013).

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