Saint Gilles Croix de Vie
Visit Saint Gilles Croix de Vie (Pays de la Loire, France)
Situated on the west coast, just south of the well known seaside resort of Saint Jean de Monts, Saint Gilles Croix de Vie is a busy port and lively town with a long wide stretch of beautiful sandy beach.
The river ‘La Vie’ runs through the town leading from the salt marshes to the sea. Saint Gilles Croix de Vie was originally two separate communs – one on either side of the river: Saint-Gilles-Sur-Vie (on the left side of the river) and Croix-de-Vie (on the right side). These fused together in 1967 to make the one town.
The port is known for its sardine fishing and Saint Gilles Croix de Vie is also home to the fish factory ‘Les Dieux’, which depending on the direction of the wind can smell quite fishy!
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie is a lovely place, not only to spend a holiday but to also think about staying all year round. It is lively in the summer – there are plenty of bars and restaurants, there is an annual Jazz Festival (the Pentecost weekend) and excellent celebrations on the 14th July finishing up at the beach for fireworks. In the low season Saint Gilles Croix de Vie remains lively with most of the shops and restaurants staying open. Its location in the Vendee means that the weather is usually wonderful, it is often cold but sunny with clear blue skies in the winter.
If you want to just have a wander around, stop for a coffee or a bite to eat then one of the nicest walks you can do is from the beach, where you are bound to come across surfers no matter what time of year (or what temperature it is!), around the dunes to the port then into the town centre. If you’re thirsty then stop at Les Alizees Jazz Bar near the tourist information office (Croix-de-Vie side) which is run by two nice women, has a black piano in the middle of the bar and various board games to play at your leisure. Here you can enjoy a Monaco, or a Chocolat Viennois (highly recommended!) whilst giving your feet a rest and relaxing to a bit of jazz.
Whilst you are over this side of the river you should pop down to where the fishing boats are (you can walk or drive down here even if it can look a bit out of bounds!) and visit the Comptoir de la Mer, excellent for fishy/sea themed souvenirs and fishing equipment.
There is a huge choice of restaurants for such a small town, ranging from seafood - my recommendation being Les Oceanides, to numerous pizzerias, creperies – a really good one is La Creperie (if you have a sweet tooth save yourself for the dessert!), and a Chinese.
Saint Gilles Croix de Vie has a wonderful relaxed feel about it. The people are friendly, the weather is good, and there are plenty of nice places to eat and drink. I really loved living in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, and was sad to leave – I really miss the walks along the beach, the river that goes from being full of water to non-existent with the tides, and the coming and going of small fishing boats from the port.
If you wanted to have a day out visiting nearby towns then Clisson, a beautiful Italianate town is about an hour away; Les Sables d’Olonne with its impressive boulevard running along the beach is about 40 minutes away, and Nantes is about an hour away (really convenient for the airport and Ikea!).
Oh, just one word of warning, for some reason in low season, and only in low season, as soon as the weather starts getting milder and sunny a handful of naked sunbathers emerge to soak up the rays on the beach at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie...
See CAMPING HOLIDAYS IN VENDEE for campsites along the popular Vendee coast
Photos of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie
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Address: Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Sables-d'Olonne, Vendee, Pays de la Loire, 85800 || GPS: latitude 46.6983, longitude -1.93944
Map of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie & places nearby
Highlights close by
Sables d'Olonne 25km
Ile d'Yeu 31km
See lots more places to visit nearby and a more detailed map at places near Saint Gilles Croix de Vie.
See Pays de la Loire and Vendee (the region and department for Saint Gilles Croix de Vie) for more travel ideas...
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, France
- Saint-Jean-de-Monts - ville fleurie 4* (14km)
- Notre-Dame-de-Monts - ville fleurie 4* (21km)
- Parc zoologique des Sables-d'Olonne - zoo or wildlife park (27km)
- Marais de Machecoul - site of natural beauty (34km)
- Georges Clemenceau house - national monument (43km)
Market days in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie: Regular market(s) are held in Saint Gilles Croix de Vie each Wednesday & Tuesday & Thursday & Sunday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie (Francais)