LES SABLES D'OLONNE, a seaport of western France, capital of an arrondissement of the department of Vendee, on an inlet of the Atlantic seaboard, 23 m. S.W. of La Roche-sur-Yon by rail. Pop. (1906) 11,847. The town stands between the sea on the south and the port on the north, while on the west it is separated by a channel from the suburb of La Chaume, built at the foot of a range of dunes 65 ft. high, which terminates southwards in the rocky peninsula of L'Aiguille. The beautiful smoothly sloping beach, i m. in length, is much frequented by bathers. To the north of Sables extend salt-marshes and oyster-parks, yielding 6,000,000 to 8,000,000 oysters per annum. Sables has a church built in the Late Gothic style towards the middle of the 17th century. The port, consisting of a tidal basin and a wet-dock, is accessible to vessels of 2000 tons, but is dangerous when the winds are from the south-west. The lighthouse of Barges, a mile out at sea to the west, is visible for 17 to 18 nautical miles. The inhabitants are employed largely in sardine and tunny fishing; there are imports of coal, wood, petroleum and phosphates. Boat-building and sardine-preserving are carried on. The town has a sub-prefecture and a tribunal of first instance.
Founded by Basque or Spanish sailors, Sables was the first place in Poitou invaded by the Normans in 817. Louis XL, who went there in 1472, granted the inhabitants various privileges, improved the harbour, and fortified the entrance. Captured and recaptured during the Wars of Religion, the town afterwards became a nursery of hardy sailors and privateers, who harassed the Spaniards and afterwards the English. In 1696 Sables was bombarded by the combined fleets of England and Holland. In the middle of the 18th century hurricanes caused grievous damage to town and harbour.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)