Les Sables-d’Olonne (pronounced: [lɛ sabl dolɔn]) (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 Atlantic Ocean ever since its foundation in 1218 from Havre (harbor) d’Olonne by Savary I de Mauléon, the lord of Mauléon, Sénéchal of Poitou and prince of Talmont.
In 1472, Louis XI separated 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.
Its first bathing establishments were started in 1825, intitiating the local tourism industry.
On 29 December 1866, the railroad, on the line from La Roche-sur-Yon, Bressuire, Saumur, and Tours, reached Les Sables. Express service to Paris would arrive in 1971.
During the night of 27 August 1944, the occupying German army, upon evacuation, destroyed the port and mined the harbor.