Sables d'Olonne travel guide

Photo of Sables d\'Olonne

Visit Sables d'Olonne (Pays de la Loire, France)

Photo Gallery Book hotels, flights, car hire

Sables d'Olonne is a popular town and beach resort on the Cote de Lumière that runs along the coast of the western Vendee department.

Explore Sables d'Olonne

One of the most popular of the coastal towns in the region, the main attraction in Sables d'Olonne is of course the beach: three kilometres long, and with numerous activities available. If you are looking for the most lively resort in Vendee - and our personal favourite - you will find it here!

Much of the long beach is backed by modern hotel and apartment developments, restaurants and bars,with the part between the lighthouse and the casino being the most lively both during the day time and into the evening as the cafes and restaurants fill with people and buskers play along the seafront.

promenade in centre of Sables d'Olonne

As well as the beach, it is perhaps the promenade along the coast which explains a great deal of its appeal. Somewhat reminiscent of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice (which is perhaps the most famous beach promenade in the world), the promenade in Sables d'Olonne is always busy with cyclist, walkers and joggers and one of the highlights of your visit.

Behind the promenade is the town of Sables d'Olonne, the most important town along this section of coast and an active fishing port as well as a popular holiday destination.

The town has all the activities and facilities you would expect of a busy seaside town. Start exploring perhaps in the Rue de l'Eglise (just west of the Place Dupont).

To the west of the beach and promenade you will enjoy a walk around the large pleasure harbour. The eastern part of the harbour, called the Quai George Cinq, is less visited but also pleasant to explore. (There are three separate ports here - a fishing port, a port for industry, and the pleasure port of Port Olona).

You can organise your boat trip along the coast from the harbour in Sables d'Olonne, including a chance to sail in a traditional sailing boat.


Other monuments in Sables d'Olonne

Although the beach is the main attraction you will find some sights of historical interest in Sables d'Olonne:

The tower that is all that remains of the 15th century Chateau Saint-Clair has now had its tower converted into a lighthouse.

The Church of Notre-Dame in the town dates from the 17th century and is mostly in gothic style, while the Abbey of Sainte-Croix, an attractive 17th century building, has also seen a multitude of uses including a german army base and a library.

There are also various museums in Sables d'Olonne including one dedicated to seashells (!) and another dedicated to local traditions and history. The most interesting is the Museum of Modern Art in the Sainte-Croix Abbey which has a very impressive collection of contemporary art displayed in the original abbey priory.

La Chaume - west of Les Sables d'Olonne

It is possible to take a ferry across to the west part of Les Sables d'Olonne to visit the Museum of the Sea, a small museum inside the Chateau Saint-Clair with two rooms of exhibits relating to the sea. On the headland to the south you can see the Priory of Saint-Nicholas, which was a church until the 18th century, then a prison, and is now used for various exhibitions and events.

The view from the priory and the walk along the coast here is quite nice, but in my opinion does not justify the time and effort involved in getting here from Les Sables d'Olonne town centre.

Palais de Justice in Sables d'Olonne

The only problem with visiting is that parking in the centre of Sables d'Olonne is not very easy and not very cheap so can be a problem if you are spending a week or two based in the town.

Sables d'Olonne is also known for the Vendee Globe yacht race - a yacht race around the world - that takes place every four years and starts and ends in the resort.

Attractions in the vicinity

There is a popular zoo in Sables d'Olonne which has a particular focus on promoting awareness of the environment and many protected species of animal some of which are very unusual - we liked the 'Red Panda' and the monkeys, the children liked the long legged 'maned Wolf'.

A few kilometres south of the town on the coast at Chateau d'Olonne there is an attractive viewpoint called the Puits d'Enfer where the beach gives way to craggy rocks.

See more of the popular Vendée resorts and beaches

See more seaside resorts in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Vendee guide and the Pays de la Loire guide.

See also Find Sables d'Olonne hotels

Photos of Sables d'Olonne

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • beach-1
  • beach-2
  • beach-3
  • les-atlantes
  • palais-de-justice
  • promenade-1
  • promenade-2
  • promenade-3
  • seafront-1
  • seafront-church
  • town-centre-1
  • town-centre-church
  • vue-north-sables-d-olonne (1)
  • vue-north-sables-d-olonne (2)
  • vue-north-sables-d-olonne (3)
  • vue-north-sables-d-olonne (4)

Arrange a visit to Sables d'Olonne

Book hotels, car hire and flights

Organise your visit using the options shown...

Hotels in Sables d'Olonne best prices

See Sables d'Olonne hotels

Reserve excursions

Map of Sables d'Olonne and places nearby


Visit near Sables d'Olonne with France This Way reviews

Chateau d\'Olonne

Chateau d'Olonne

Chateau d'Olonne is a very small resort, well placed for exploring the coast and visiting Sables d'Olonne

Chateau d'Olonne guide
Port Bourgenay

Port Bourgenay

The small resort of Bourgenay has a port and a popular beach

Port Bourgenay guide


Brem-sur-Mer is a small resort with a long beach to the north of Les Sables d'Olonne

Brem-sur-Mer guide


The small town of Talmont-Saint-Hilaire is mainly known for the Chateau de Talmont, where various events take place during the summer season.

Talmont-Saint-Hilaire guide
Chateau de Talmont

Chateau de Talmont

The Chateau of Talmont is a ancient castle, now in ruins, in the Vendee department

Chateau de Talmont guide


Bretignolles-sur-Mer is one of the smallest Vendee resorts - still has a big beach though!

Bretignolles-sur-Mer guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Vendee

Tourist classifications for Sables d'Olonne

Sables d'Olonne is classified as a

Address: Sables-d'Olonne, Pays de la Loire, 85100, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 46.4972, longitude -1.78333

Plan your visit to Sables d'Olonne, Vendee

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Parc zoologique des Sables-d'Olonne: zoo or wildlife park (2 km)
  • Georges Clemenceau house: national monument (20 km)
  • Ars-en-Re: most beautiful village (38 km)
  • Saint-Jean-de-Monts: ville fleurie 4* (39 km)
  • Phare de la Pointe des Corbeaux: site of natural beauty (44 km)
  • Notre-Dame-de-Monts: ville fleurie 4* (46 km)
  • Saint-Martin-de-Ré citadelle (Vauban fortifications): heritage site (46 km)
  • La Flotte-en-Re: most beautiful village (49 km)
  • Jardins de Chaligny: remarkable garden (50 km)
  • Fort de Pierre-Levée: site of natural beauty (50 km)
  • Vieux-château de l'Île d'Yeu: site of natural beauty (50 km)
  • Port-Joinville: site of natural beauty (50 km)

Market days in Sables d'Olonne, France

Regular market(s) are held in Sables d'Olonne each every day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Sables d'Olonne (Francais)