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Every destination has its number one product. In Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, the town’s mascot is undoubtedly the sardine. Do you fancy tasting it? Marinated, grilled, as a rillette (a type of pâté), it is delicious however you choose to enjoy it.
The sardine: the icon of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
The sardine is the first wild fish to have been awarded the Label Rouge (Red Label) for quality, and it is likely to become even more popular thanks to the more recent award: sardine fishing in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is now listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of France.
Every year, close to 2,900 tonnes of sardines are unloaded at the fishing port between April and the beginning of October. They arrive at the fish market within 12 hours maximum after leaving the waters and are then transformed within 24 hours maximum in the local area. Once on dry land, the sardines are sold either fresh or sorted and canned at the last canning factory still operating today, the Conserverie Gendreau.
Where can I buy sardines?
Sardines are absolutely unmissable in the Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie. The sardine fishing season is from April to October, but they can be enjoyed all year round, either fresh or canned, there’s something for everyone.
Where can I buy fresh sardines?
- At the markets in the Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie
- At the Poissonnerie des Mouettes – Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez
- At Les Viviers de Vendée – Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
- At Les Halles de la Vie – Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
- At Les Viviers de Sion sur l’Océan – Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez
- At Les Viviers de la Corniche – Brétignolles-sur-Mer
WHERE CAN I BUY SARDINES DIRECTLY FROM THE BOAT, AS SOON AS THEY RETURN TO THE PORT?
- At Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie fishing port, next to the fish market.
You can buy freshly caughtsardines directly from the boat ‘Le Bozo’ (they are usually sold late morning, depending on the time of fishing that day).
If you want to buy sardines outside of the fishing season, so between November and March, opt for the canned variety.
Our recommendations for where to buy canned sardines:
- The La Perle des Dieux shops – 58 Quai de la République and 8 Rue du Général de Gaulle in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
- L’Atelier de la Sardine, in the museum shop, in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
- Goûtez moi ça, a delicatessen in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
- Les Emplettes, the Tourist Office shop in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
Where are the best restaurants to eat sardines?
There are countless restaurants in the Pays de Saint Gilles Croix de Vie serving some delicious dishes that will make your mouth water, with this little blue fish as the star product.