It is on the Coast of Lumière in Vendee that lies the seaside resort of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Located 70 km from Nantes, it welcomes many holidaymakers each year who discover the vast sandy beaches, picturesque little markets where you can enjoy the fresh sardines, local specialty, which even has its brotherhood, and many activities.
Sea front of St Gilles Croix de Vie – area of Remblai
It is the result of combining two villages, Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie and Croix-de-Vie. With a rich history, the fishing town is now full of charm and is authentic, safe guarding all of its traditions and making it a point to conserve its old quarters. In the one of Morocco, which owes its name to the inhabitants that moved here in the fifteenth century and came from Spain, you can see a reconstruction of a fisherman's house of the twenties. The Henry-Simon hall hosts art exhibitions, including the painter’s, and you can visit his studio dubbed the Rimajures. Nature lovers prefer to wander in the rose garden of Vendee, superb 3-hectare park with over 10,000 rose bushes and 950 varieties, a pleasure for the senses!
Grande Plage Beach de St Gilles, north of Remblai near the dunes
In the summer, the beaches of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie are the main attraction of this Vendée seaside resort. Grande Plage Beach is the largest, it covers nearly 3 km along dunes and Remblai (pedestrian promenade, originally it was to protect the city against the ocean). There are many events in the summer with beach clubs as well as storage facilities for water sports. This is one of the finest beaches of the Vendee.
Remblai de St Gilles avec sur la droite l'immense plage
Near the port, there is the Petite Plage Beach which is small as its name suggests but has the advantage of having a swimming pool at low tide. Nearby, the Boisvinet beach is very family orientated with its sailing centre. Continuing on the right, you reach the Pelle Porteau beach with small discrete coves for lovers of peace and quiet.
Boisvinet Beach on the right side of St Gilles
As you walk along, you will discover the ancient stone Menhir de la Tonnelle, one of the few in the region. The small ports are a delight to the tourists. The fishing port is constantly busy, it's the ideal place to discover the local cuisine!
The port of St Gilles
On the side of the marina Port-la-Vie, located in the city centre, you can admire the 1,000 boats swaying gently in the harbour.
The city is separated into twobanks. The right one, Croix-de-Vie, has one of the most picturesque streets. It takes just one step in the alley leading from the General de Gaulle street to take a leap into the past and discover the old fishermen's houses. The left one, Saint-Gilles, has a beautiful promenade (Marcel-Ragon) and Marché-aux-Herbes square, with a beautiful church.
Josephine tower is one of the monuments not to be missed! It dates back to the first empire (Napoleon Bonaparte) and would have originally served as a lighthouse. Also called the Tower of the Old Mole, it is surrounded by legends and traditions. It also tells you the stories of the Ile d'Yeu, that can be visited by taking one of the many boats trips from avenue Jean-Cristau. During the trip, you will discover one of the jewels of the Vendée: The Old Castle is a prime example with its spectacular relic built in the fourteenth century. The white cliffs of the untamed coast alongside small sheltered coves that will be replaced, on the other side of the island, by little known beaches, dunes and pine forests, so pleasant in spring and autumn! The lights of the island will delight photographers and tourists will gladly replace their cars for bikes and explore the island’s beautiful trails.
Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie also hosts several sporting events including the sail race Vendée St. Petersburg, organised every two years alternating with the Vendée Globe, a stage of the Solitaire du Figaro, the kitesurfing world cup or international triathlon.
A stay in the town is also an opportunity to discover the Countryside of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, 32 km of coastline, 22 beaches and 14 towns as Brems-sur-Mer, Brétignolles-sur-Mer and Saint Hilaire de Riez. The latter has the longest Atlantic coast of Vendée and the salt marshes of La Vie which have organized tours.
Each also has its market, the perfect place to take in the atmosphere of the area and bring back some memories!