Coastal resorts and sea ports
There are 18 famous French coastal towns on the Vendean coast. Each seaside resort has its own particular character to discover. Explore the local way of life and traditions in the picturesque ports. From the north to the south of the Vendée, discover the beautiful seaside resorts of the French west coast. Saint Jean de Monts and its large sandy beaches, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie and its authentic charm, Les Sables d'Olonne, a dynamic seafront town and a relaxing hinterland, the Talmondais and its family seaside villages or La Tranche sur Mer, a preserved nature and a resort dedicated to families... There are many options for an unforgettable holiday in the Vendée.
The Vendéen coastline boasts 140 km of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the West of France. Its gently sloping beaches are ideal for family beach holidays where the children can enjoy swimming and rock-pooling. Nautical and water sports enthusiasts won’t be disappointed as the Vendée’s coastal resorts have many on offer.
Saint Jean de Monts, a family friendly coastal resort
Saint Jean de Monts is one of the many top destinations of French coastal towns for families along the West coast of France. It is renowned for its 8 kms of beautiful fine sandy beaches which are just ideal for a paddle along the water ‘s edge or even fishing for clams! Saint Jean de Monts also benefits to the Blue Flag award and has a high bathing water quality. It is one of the main coastal resorts on the "Cote de Lumiere" the name given to the Vendean coast due to an annual average sunshine level of 2300 hours.
Saint Jean de Monts is the central point of this large touristic area, popular for its family seaside towns.
- La Barre de Monts/Fromentine : With 600 ha of pine forest, La Barre de Monts has the largest forest area of the Vendee’s coastline. Untouched by any urbanisation the town is equally proud of its beautiful beaches and sand dunes. The small hamlet of Fromentine situated 2km from the centre of La Barre de Monts is in fact the town’s seaside resort as well as the main continental pier for crossings to L’Ile d’Yeu.
- Notre Dame de Monts also benefits from a preserved natural environment, where its forest of coniferous trees provides a charming backdrop for this pretty market town. Notre Dame de Monts seaside quarters (lively by day and by night) have some beautiful early 20th century villas in a distinctive seaside architectural style.
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, a picturesque port and seaside town
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie is further south on the Vendean coast, and is considered an attractive seaside town and nautical resort. It is the largest French sardine port on the west coast of France and is well known for its “savoir faire” when it comes to sardine fishing. On certain days, fishing boats returning to the harbour often sell their freshly caught fish directly from their boats. The old quarters of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie offers varying architectural styles. The narrow streets and authentic fishermen’s houses of the “Rue du Maroc” as well as the delightful 18th century villa’s near to the beach at “Boisvinet”.
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie is an ideal destination for holidays with family or friends. Sensation seekers will not be disappointed either as the 3,5km of amazing beaches provides numerous water sports and surfing spots.
Brem sur Mer : a wine growing coastal village
Brem sur mer is renowned for its vineyards and wine production due to its exceptional location - between the forest and the salt marshes. In 2011 the local wine producers obtained the AOC (Controlled Designation of Origin). This guarantees the origin and wine quality, allowing it to become part of the “Fief Vendeens “wines.
The history of Brem sur mer can be traced back through its stunning Romanesque church “Saint Nicolas” which stands proudly in the town centre. Created in the 11th century, it is one of the most beautiful medieval monuments in the Vendee. Furthermore, at just a few hundred metres from the town centre, you’ll discover the little fishing village La Gachère, with its narrow streets and low-set houses.
Brétignolles sur Mer a lively seaside town with superb beaches
Bretignolles sur mer seaside resort has a beautiful strand of over 12km in length. This coastal resort is home to numerous campsites but owes its reputation in the region to its many surfing spots and superb sandy beaches. Bretignolles sur mer hosts a variety of programmed events throughout the year, including a series of fun packed “family friendly” activities in July and August.
The picturesque seaside village of Saint Hilaire de Riez
The seaside resort Saint Hilaire de Riez has the longest stretch of coast in the Vendee. The seaside town situated in a natural, unspoiled setting has all the assets of a dynamic resort. It is also being known to have the 2nd largest concentration of campsites in France.
Saint Hilaire de Riez has a rocky coastline, which is busy during the season. The delightful “Corniche Vendéenne” stretches for 3km along the seafront promenade, ideal for an evening stroll. Continuing on along this rugged coastline, numerous outcrops, coves and rock formations can be seen. Local legends tell stories about the “ Trou du Diable” (devil’s hole) and Les cinq Moines/ 5 monks : the hole was created when the devil kicked the cliffs with his heel, and the 5 rocks are the guardians supposed to be watching the demon…
Les Sables d'Olonne, one of the best French seaside resorts
The Vendee’s coastal resort, Les Sables d'Olonne is famous for its long sandy beach and the legendary Vendée Globe race which takes place every four years. A dynamic town all year round thanks to its fishing and commercial ports as well as its marina activity. A stroll amongst the charming streets is the best way to discover the town's heritage. Numerous 18th century town houses and seaside villas can be found throughout the resort a testimony to the resorts interesting past. Les Sables d’Olonne seafront or “Remblai “stretches along the bay its various bars and cafes overlooking the sea making it a pleasant venue at any time of the day.
One of Les Sables d’Olonne unusual sites is “Ile Penotte” nestling among the narrow streets. It is renowned for its ornate murals, created from seashells gathered on the beach at low tide.
Les Sables d’Olonne is home to the narrowest street in the world, known locally as “rue d’enfer”. Recognised as an intriguing site it has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records since 1986.
Want to spend 24 hours in Les Sables d'Olonne? Find out our tips.
The TALMONDAIS, a french coastal resort with a story to tell
Richard the Lionheart, the most French of the Kings of England, stayed regularly in the Talmondais area. He liked hunting in the surrounding forests where wild game was plentiful.
- In Talmont Saint Hilaire, the old medieval fortress remains a living witness to a time when this maritime coast was English. Talmont Saint Hilaire is also home to the Port Bourgenay, a modern marina with facilities, 660 berths, 50 of which are reserved for boats that are just stopping over.
- The seaside resort of Jard sur Mer stretches for 7km along the coast, with various rocky outcrops, fine sandy beaches, forest and marshland areas. This small family friendly resort offers many assets to visitors and is a very lively village during the summer season, such as a pleasant modern marina with 550 moorings, countless water-based sports and amazing surfing spots.
- Longeville sur mer : numerous footpaths and cycle trails meander through the 650-hectares of pine and oak forest. They will enable you to appreciate the unique flora and fauna of this western region. The surrounding countryside however, with Its woodland hedgerows, numerous lakes and ponds is in complete contrast to the coastal resort.
- Saint Vincent sur Jard seaside village is situated in southern Vendee, tucked into a beautiful little bay just opposite the Ile de Ré. This small French seaside village reputed for its microclimate and easy way of life, was once the summer residence of George Clemenceau (a famous French politician nicknamed “the tiger”). Since then, Jard sur Mer has become a friendly, family seaside resort where you can relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.
- The Payré estuary : a mythical spot classified. Discover its preserved fauna and flora by walking along the amazing beach of Le Veillon where fine sand dunes, secret coves and maritime pine forests intermingle. Le Veillon is also one of the most important palaeontological sites in Europe, with hundreds of dinosaur footprints dating back 200 million years that can be seen at high tide. Nearby is La Guittière, a little charming village where we advise you to stop for tasting oysters, its speciality ! On the other side of the estuary, a walk through the holm oak forest and along the Saint Nicolas cliffs is a must.
La Tranche sur Mer, a residential french seaside town
La Tranche sur Mer is an ideal french coastal town for family holidays. This seaside resort displays the “famille Plus” label where numerous activities are especially designed for the family. Bordered by dunes and forest, its sandy beaches stretch along the coast for 13km. Various nature trails meander through the trees and are suitable for everyone. La Tranche sur Mer is equally renowned for its surfing spots and has countless water-based sports to explore.
Discover the charms of other French seaside resorts in the Vendée
La Faute sur Mer peninsula is surrounded for more than 10 km by the “Lay” river on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, and doesn’t exceed more than 2km in width. A lively coastal resort, La Faute sur Mer is both friendly and welcoming for visitors. It is connected to the mainland via 2 bridges and is twined with L’Aiguillon sur Mer, a neighbouring village.
L’Aiguillon sur Mer is the last southern seaside resort on the Vendean coast and is part of the Marais Poitevin. Due to its 3 artificial lakes and sandy beaches L’Aiguillon sur Mer is home to numerous water-based sports including swimming, kayaking, paddle and even cable wake activities. L’Aiguillon sur Mer is a lively seaside town with a picturesque port and numerous shops and restaurants. A cheerful and colourful market every Tuesday and Friday mornings shouldn’t be missed.
The town also has an exceptional natural site: The Pointe de L’Aiguillon, an annual meeting place for more than 400,000 migratory birds, swarming in the skies above this natural site where dunes, mudflats and salt wetlands co-exist perfectly.