Les Sables d'Olonne > Discover > Patrimony > Bathing


The practice of sea bathing at Les Sables d’Olonne dates back to the 1800s.In 1866, the Railway arrived at Les Sables d’Olonne and with it the era of the leisure train… The seaside resort became all the rage and was very popular with the aristocracy and the artistic elite. It was the Belle Epoque for Les Sables…

Railway in 1866


The arrival of the railway in 1866 injected new dynamism into tourism with ‘the leisure trains’, which connected Paris to the ‘finest beach in Europe’.

The new vogue for Sea Bathing was born.

A second casino appeared in 1898, the ‘Casino des Pins’, and in 1900 there were already more than 35 hotels close to the Embankment.

Quai de la Gare des Sables d'Olonne crédit Archives Municipales

Arrivée du Train aux Sables d'Olonne - archives municipales

Affiche les Trains du Plaisir aux Sables d'Olonne - Crédit Musée de l'Abbaye Ste Croix

Bathing machine

The Bathing machine was a device on 4 wheels like a carriage with canvas walls and drawn by a horse. The cart was usually rolled into the water up to the axle. The bather could therefore enter the water away from prying eyes. In 1825 at Les Sables-d’Olonne, the tradesman Pître Raguet set up eight wheeled huts of this kind for the use of bathers on the shore facing the Place d’Armes (the current Place du Palais de Justice). *

* Text provided by the Municipal archives department.

Histoire des bains de mer aux Sables d'Olonne


Seaside houses of the 19th and 20th centuries

The first large seaside villas at Les Sablesd’Olonne, initially on the seafront and then towards the Dunes district, were built in thelate 19th century. A certain eclecticism can be seen in Les Sables seaside architecture, ranging from the chalet and neo-Basque regionalist styles through to the Art Deco and 1950s styles.

Les Sables architects, Charles Charrier (Palazzo Clementina) and Maurice Durand (Mirasol) are responsible for designing many seaside villas on the Embankment.

* Text provided by the Municipal archives department.

Discover les Sables d'Olonne bydecode-lessables.mobi 

Photo ancienne du Palazzo Clementina sur le remblai des Sables d'Olonne

Palazzo Clementina sur le remblai

Carte postale ancienne montrant la Villa Mirasol

Villa Mirasol (en bas de la rue Travot)

Le Remblai

Le Remblai is the name given to the long promenade bordering the beach at Les Sables d’Olonne. Le Remblai is, in fact, a series of promenades originally constructed to protect the town against attack from the sea and the encroaching sand. It was gradually to become the seafront promenade. In the late 19th century, a number of architects gave free rein to their imagination and created some magnificent villas typical of the seaside architecture.
The embankment promenade was inaugurated on 6th August 1950. The total overhaul (2008-2013) of the embankment was a decisive event in the history of Les Sables d'Olonne, bringing about the terms "old embankment" and "new embankment" as if a new page in the history book had been turned.Resulting from a lengthy thought process and debate with users, the main feature of the new Remblai is the priority given to
pedestrians, bicycles, seaside planting (e.g. green oak, pittosporum, tamaris…), shop terraces and bold architectural choices, respectful of the town’s history.


Works undertaken to extend the Embankment in 1949-1950 also included the creation of three semi-circular rotundas between the Place Foch and the Quai Joffre.
The rotundas served as bars or puppet theatres.
Among those to be remembered are La Bagatelle, Le Tacot, Les Canaris, Casa Pépé and Le Trianon.

Rotonde sur le remblai

Rotonde sur le remblai


Built on top of an old blockhouse, the eight-meter high four-sided clock tower was inaugurated on
1st July 1956.
It has, since then, been known as an easy to find meeting, and sometimes dating, spot.

La pendule sur le Remblai des Sables d'Olonne

La pendule sur le Remblai des Sables d'Olonne

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