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Les Sables-d'Olonne

(3.9/5 based on 2,400+ reviews for top 20 attractions)
Things to do: zoos & aquariums, historic sites, casinos
Les Sables-d'Olonne is a seaside town in western France, by the Atlantic Ocean. It is a commune and a sub-prefecture of the Vendée department.EventsThe Vendée Globe yacht race, which takes place every four years, starts and ends at Les Sables-d'Olonne.PersonalitiesThe town is the birthplace of pirate François l'Olonnais.Points of interestMusée de l'Abbaye Sainte-CroixSituated in a 17th-century building, the museum is devoted to modern and contemporary art. This municipal museum has "Musée de France" status. Two principal artists represented : Gaston Chaissac (1910–1964) and Victor Brauner (1903–1966).HistoryThe history of Sables-d'Olonne has been linked with the Atlantic Ocean ever since its foundation in 1218 from Havre d'Olonne by Savary I de Mauléon, the Lord of Mauléon, Sénéchal of Poitou and prince of Talmont. In 1472, Louis XI separated Les Sables d'Olonne from the town of Olonne. In the 17th century, the port of Les Sables d'Olonne was the largest cod-fishing port in France, with 14,000 inhabitants. During the French Revolution, the city supported the Republic, unlike the surrounding Vendée. Thus it was often besieged, but unsuccessfully, thanks to its port. Its first bathing establishments were started in 1825, initiating the local tourism industry. On 29 December 1866, the railroad, on the line from La Roche-sur-Yon, Bressuire, Saumur, and Tours, reached Les Sables. Express service to Paris would arrive in 1971. During the night of 27 August 1944, the occupying German army, upon evacuation, destroyed the port and mined the harbour.
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