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Get the full experience of our seaside town in one day, discover the culture, heritage sites and just take in the charm and easy-going atmosphere!

The town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie was created in 1967 when two towns on either side of the mouth of the river Vie were united. It has been classified as a seaside resort since 1982.
This is a renowned port for sailing, either for boats passing through or as a home port. It is also a significant fishing port specialised in sardines and shrimp. Take a stroll along the docks, get some fresh air on the beach, or go and explore the historic areas of the town. What are you waiting for? Let’s go!

La “Vie” – Saint Gilles Croix de Vie

Right banks


Modern, ‘Roman-Byzantine’-style church dating from 1894.

(Estimated time: 20 min)

There is a market at this square every Wednesday and Saturday morning.

2 – The grand phare

The Grand Phare (great lighthouse) was built in 1875 and is 17 metres high. The light is aligned with that of the Adon lighthouse and it is still used by sailors today, to guide them as they sail into the harbour.

(Estimated time: 5 min)

3 – The plage de boisvinet

It is very pleasant to walk around this family-friendly beach and watch the boats coming in and out of the harbour between the jetties. From this beach, you can then walk along the Corniche Vendéenne (Vendée headland), a classified site since 1926. There is a superb 3-km-long coastal path along the jagged cliffs.

4 – THE TOUR JOSéphine

The very first of the town’s lighthouses was built upon request from ’16 port captains’ in 1851, in an effort to reduce the number of sinking ships.

(Estimated time: 10 min)

At the foot of the lighthouse are the boats to and from Ile d’Yeu.

5 – The fishing port

This port is still active today and specialised in blue fish (sardines, anchovies), producing around 4,000 tonnes of fish each year.

(Estimated time: 25 min)

New: Find out all about the world of fishing on a tour of Escale Pêche !

Book your fishing trip at sea





6 – ‘PORT LA VIE’ marina

This marina is right in the centre of the town at the mouth of the river Vie, and was built in 1971. Today, there are approximately 1,200 moorings here. There are countless recreational boating establishments and it is also home to the company Bénéteau.

(Estimated time: 35 min)

7 – PETITE île

This area of town was built by the sailors themselves, close to the marina, with a maze of narrow streets and houses built using ballast stone. It is also known as the ‘Quartier du Maroc’ because the people living here in the 16th century were descendents of the Spanish Moors, known as Moroccans.

(Estimated time: 1.5 hours)

Visit the Maison du Pêcheur, a replica of a fisherman’s house from the 1920s.


This bridge was built in 1835 to link the two towns, replaced by a metal construction in 1882, and then by the current bridge in 1952. It was after the merging of the two towns in 1967 that is was named the Pont de la Concorde. On the bridge, there is a statue of a sailor pointing at the water level gauge.

(Estimated time: 5 min)

Left banks


This dock is perfect for walking or cycling along, and was named after famous writer Pierre Garcie, known as Ferrande.

Go along the footpath or cycle path between the Pont de la Concorde and the Casino and admire the view of the river Vie.

10 – rue abel pipaud

These one-storey houses where the fishermen once lived were built using ballast stone. The stones were unloaded off the boats which would then leave loaded with local goods. Opposite number ‘4QUA’ you’ll see graffiti with a picture of a caravel, as a reference to the maritime trade in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie since the 16th century.

(Estimated time: 10 min)

11 – The church of saint-gilles

This church was built in the 9th century and then restored in 1971. It houses a very beautiful portrayal of the Way of the Cross by Henry Simon.

(Estimated time: 20 min)

There is a market at this square on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings.

12 – rUE torterue

This road can be found in Vieux Saint Gilles, the most ancient part of town, and was once the town’s main road. Come and just take in the charm and beautiful scenery here!

13 – quai du port fiDèle

Coaster trading vessels would once unload herring from Holland or leather from Spain here, and then sail up the Vie to collect salt or wheat. The name of this dock comes from the revolutionary era when St-Gilles was one of the only places in Vendée that supported the new Republican ideas (‘fidèle’ means ‘loyal’).


The Jaunay is an artificial river that flows into the Vie, through a lock. This lock is opened and closed depending on the tides, to prevent saltwater from flowing through.

15 – The embankment at the Grande plage

This embankment was built between the Dune de la Garenne and the Dunes du Jaunay, and a part of it runs alongside 3.6 km of the Grande Plage. Building work began in 1925 in an effort to protect the town from the sea. Go up the embankment, around the Villa Notre Dame and to the viewpoint to admire the panoramic view of the ports, the Grande Plage and the Plage de Boisvinet.

This is the perfect place to get a view of the whole town!


Carry on walking along the Dune de la Garenne, until you reach the Promenade Marie de Beaucaire to then end your exploration opposite the fishing port and marina (in the summer there is a bus boat to get from one side of the port to the other).