10 largest cities in France


Les Sables d'Olonne


Les Sables-d'Olonne is a new French commune, sub-prefecture of the Vendée department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region. The town is the result of the merger of Château-d'Olonne, Olonne-sur-Mer and Sables-d'Olonne on January 1, 2019, which makes it the second most populous town in the department with 44,017 inhabitants in 2017, and more than 45,000 according to estimates as of January 1, 2019. The agglomeration community represents a population of 53,623 inhabitants.



The municipality was created on January 1, 2019 by a prefectural decree of August 17, 2018.

The foundation of Les Sables-d'Olonne dates back to 1218. The current village of Olonne-sur-Mer was in the Middle Ages a very active port located at the end of a sheltered bay. The siltation of this bay as well as that of Talmont led Prince Savary de Mauléon to found a new port on the site of the current Chaume district and in the dunes of Olonne (where the name of the city). The city will then develop on the northern slope of the dune.

In 1754, Les Sables-d'Olonne and La Chaume merged. In 1844, the law allotted to the city, eighty-four hectares of marshy land then located in the town of Olonne on which the Place de la Liberté and the Cours Dupont were subsequently developed. The same year, the commune of Château-d'Olonne ceded sixty-one hectares of land to the city to the east of the Arago cemetery. Still to ensure the development of Les Sables, the municipality of Château-d'Olonne will sell the city the mouth of the Tanchet in 1875 and the forest of Rudelière in 1913. The borders of these three municipalities will remain the same until 2019.

The arrival of the railway in 1866 saw the emergence of the train station and Saint-Michel districts to the north of the city. The buildings will continue to extend along the main axes between the town center of Les Sables and the outlying towns of Olonne and Château-d'Olonne. From the 1930s, the city began to develop east of Boulevard de Castelnau and south of Avenue d'Aquitaine. This new residential district will have a school (Clemenceau school), a church (Saint-Pierre church), the hospital and the Arago market which will give its name to this district. This development will continue towards the current Presidents district.

Until the 1950s, the municipalities of Olonne-sur-Mer and Château-d'Olonne mainly developed around their town centers. Indeed, these two towns have long kept a rural character where the economic life is mainly marked by agriculture and crafts. The demographic growth of the post-war period nevertheless pushed the municipalities to build new housing estates. The Tonnelle district in Olonne-sur-Mer and the Pironière au Château district were developed in 1957 and 1959, respectively, in the immediate vicinity of the town of Sables and not around the historic town centers. From the 1960s, the city then continued to expand over the two peripheral municipalities with the city of Charcot in 1965, the Tournée des Olonnes, the Havre de la Mérinière in 1971, the hamlet of Moinardes in 1973, the city de la Gillerie then the village of La Paillolière in 1977. At Château-d'Olonne, the land located between the town center and the Nouettes neighborhoods has also been gradually urbanized over the past decades, as has the southern part of the town, between the Talmont road and the coast. These two municipalities will also choose the development of individual house housing because of the large land reserve available in their territory. Among the rare large public housing complexes built in the 1960s, we can mention: the residence of Aubépines (1961), the city of the Mill (1963) or the city of Charcot (1965).

This rapid expansion pushed the three municipalities to create in 1964 a multi-purpose inter-municipal union (Sivom) in order to work together on several projects necessary for their development. Among these projects, we can note the creation of the activity zones of Fruchardières in 1968 and Plesses in 1978, numerous schools (schools, colleges and public high schools) or even the vast sports area of ​​Chirons in 1975. For more information efficiency, this SIVOM will be replaced in 1994 by the Community of municipalities of Olonnes. In the 1980s, the idea of ​​merging the three municipalities gained ground among citizens who decided to come together within the Arepo association (Association for the reunification and expansion of the land of Olonnes). A study presented in 2009 by KPMG concluding that a merger is necessary rekindles the debate. The election or re-election of municipal lists openly favorable to the merger during the municipal elections of 2008 and 2014 will then give a boost to the merger. In 2017, the community of municipalities merged with that of Auzance and Vertonne to form the urban community of Sables-d'Olonne, then it was the turn of the three municipalities of Olonnes to merge in 2019.