15 Feb 2011

Les Sables-d'Olonne

Les Sables-d'Olonne (French meaning: "the sands of Olonne") is a seaside town in western France, by the Atlantic Ocean. It is a commune and a sub-prefecture of the Vendée department.

The history of Sables-d'Olonne has been linked with the sea ever since its foundation in 1218 from Havre (harbor) d'Olonne by Savary Ier de Mauléon, the lord of Mauléon, Sénéchal of Poitou and prince of Talmont.

* In 1472, Louis XI divided Les Sables d'Olonne from the town of Olonne.
* In the 17th century, the port of Les Sables d'Olonne was the largest cod-fishng 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.
* The first bathing establishments were started in 1825, intitiating the local tourism industry.
* On 29 December 1866, the railroad reached Les Sables, on the line from La Roche-sur-Yon, Bressuire, Saumur, and Tours. Express service from Paris would arrive in 1971.
* During the night of 27 August 1944, the occupying German army evacuated, destroying the port and mining the harbor.

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