St Gilles Croix de Vie
Situated on the west coast, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is a busy port and lively town with a long wide stretch of beautiful sandy beach.
The river ‘La Vie’ runs through the town leading from the salt marshes to the sea. Saint Gilles Croix de Vie was originally two separate communes – one on either side of the river: Saint-Gilles-Sur-Vie (on the left side of the river) and Croix-de-Vie (on the right side). These fused together in 1967 to make the one town.
The port is known for its sardine fishing and Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is also home to the fish factory ‘Les Dieux’!
It is lively in the summer – there are plenty of bars, restaurants & shops. There is an annual Jazz Festival (the Pentecost weekend) and excellent celebrations on the 14th July finishing up at the beach for fireworks.
The Must-see Destinations:
- La Maison des Ecrivains de la Mer A literary centre with a library and reading room dedicated tomaritime literature. Facing the sea, it is also an exhibitioncentre where seafaring adventurers meet!
- The Maison du Pêcheur is a reconstruction of an interior of the 1920s. This former fisherman's house has two rooms and a courtyard. It has furniture, utensils and clothing from the eras well as temporary exhibitions on the world of fishing and local life.
- Les Rimajures, Former studio of the Vendéen painter Henry Simon thisbourrine has been turned into an exhibition space and souvenir of the artist's work. Many reproductions, displays,and archival documents lead you to the the heart of his work.It is also a moment of relaxation to share in the gardens anda shop dedicated to the painter.
- The Josephine tower is a relic of one of the oldest maritime buildings in the port of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie. It was the first lighthouse in the City. On January 20, 1837, 16 captains of the port made the first formal request for establishment of a port light which could be seen two or three miles out to sea and it was placed at the end of the Croix de Vie harbour wall. It marked the entrance to the port until 1875. The tower then served as a repository for explosives used in construction of the new bridges and highways, hence its alternative name "Dynamite Tower"!
The tower is named in honor of the Empress Josephine, Napoleon's bird.