Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie travel guide

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Visit Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (Pays de la Loire, France)

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Situated on the west coast of France, just south of the 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 communes – 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 combined 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!

Exploring Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

France This Way review: Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is one of our favourite towns in this area, attractive to explore and always lively. The only inconvenient is that the beach is a few hundred metres from the town centre.

Harbour in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

The location of the town on the Vendée coast means that the weather is usually pleasant, it is often cold but sunny with clear blue skies in the winter. Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie has a wonderful relaxed feel about it, and there are plenty of nice places to eat and drink.

The town centre is quite extensive and divided in two by the river: east of the river you will find some historic streets and the beach, while the main shopping area is to the west of the river - the two are joind by a car bridge and a pedestrian bridge.

At this point, the river is quite wide and is used a a harbour, so you can also see the town across the river and boats, which is attractive so you will want to walk along the river banks on both sides of the river to admire the views.

Because of the history of the town as two separate villages, there are churches on both sides of the river: the church Saint-Gilles to the east is the more interesting, and the church Sainte-Croix is on the main square in the western part of the town, the Place Guy Kergoustin.

 
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The principal shopping street, the Rue du Général du Gaulle, is between the Place Guy Kergoustin and the bridge. You will find a large selection of gift shops, ice cream shops and cafes along this street. (The town is large enough to have several supermarkets, these are mostly along the main road a couple of kilometres east of the centre

In the narrow streets near here you can visit the Maison du Pecheur, a traditional cottage as used by the fishermen who once lived in these small houses.

To the east of the bridge you will also find small restaurants, and several art galleries and craft shops.

Beach in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

The beach in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is sandy and several kilometres long, and to the south of the town - it is a short distance outside the town centre, to the south, so you will need to walk from the centre (about 15 minutes walk) or drive.

Following the length of the beach there is a promenade which is nicely maintained, and there are several cafes and restaurants along the promenade, so we recommend you visit even if you are not here for the beach!

If like most visitors you want to have a wander around, stop for a coffee or a bite to eat then one of the nicest walks you can do is start from the beach, where you are bound to come across surfers no matter what time of year (or what temperature it is!), then continue around the dunes to the port then into Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie town centre.

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...

Main beach at Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Activities

There is an annual Jazz Festival (the Pentecost weekend) in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and also celebrations on the 14th July finishing up at the beach for fireworks.

Attractions à proximité

The coast walk to the west of the town is rocky rather than sandy and very pretty - see Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez for information.

From the harbour you can organise a boat trip to visit the Île d'Yeu.

If you wanted to have a day out visiting nearby towns then Clisson, a beautiful Italianate town is about an hour away from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie; 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!).

See more of the popular resorts and beaches in Vendee

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

See also Find Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie hotels

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Visit near Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie with France This Way reviews

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez is the beach resort next to Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez guide
Bretignolles-sur-Mer

Bretignolles-sur-Mer

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

Bretignolles-sur-Mer guide
Brem-sur-Mer

Brem-sur-Mer

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

Brem-sur-Mer guide
Saint-Jean-de-Monts

Saint-Jean-de-Monts

At Saint-Jean-de-Monts you will enjoy the extensive sandy beaches and one of the livelier resorts on the Vendee coast

Saint-Jean-de-Monts guide
Notre-Dame-de-Monts

Notre-Dame-de-Monts

The resort of Notre-Dame-de-Monts is one of the quiter resorts of the Vendee coast

Notre-Dame-de-Monts guide
Sables d\'Olonne

Sables d'Olonne

The lively town of Sables-d'Olonne is our favourite resort on the Vendee coast

Sables d'Olonne guide

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

Address: Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Sables-d'Olonne, Pays de la Loire, 85800, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 46.6983, longitude -1.93944

Plan your visit to Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Vendee

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Saint-Jean-de-Monts: ville fleurie 4* (14 km)
  • Notre-Dame-de-Monts: ville fleurie 4* (21 km)
  • Phare de la Pointe des Corbeaux: site of natural beauty (26 km)
  • Parc zoologique des Sables-d'Olonne: zoo or wildlife park (27 km)
  • Fort de Pierre-Levée: site of natural beauty (31 km)
  • Port-Joinville: site of natural beauty (32 km)
  • Vieux-château de l'Île d'Yeu: site of natural beauty (33 km)
  • Phare de l'île d'Yeu: site of natural beauty (34 km)
  • Marais de Machecoul: site of natural beauty (34 km)
  • Aérodrome de L'Île-d'Yeu: site of natural beauty (35 km)
  • Georges Clemenceau house: national monument (43 km)
  • Lac de Grand-Lieu: site of natural beauty (49 km)

Market days in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France

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)