Home France Port-bound in Les Sables d’Olonne

Port-bound in Les Sables d’Olonne

written by Terysa August 9, 2014

The last week has moved pretty slowly, which is in keeping with our general pace of life at the moment. After leaving La Rochelle on Monday we motored a whole 8 miles to an anchorage off the nearby island of Ile de Rè. We had planned to enter the stunning marina there, but because it’s so small and popular we knew we were likely to be crammed in like sardines, making extraction a difficult task; hardly worth it just for one night. We’d been to Ile de Rè before and although it’s a gorgeous island, we weren’t fussed about a second visit. So, in short, we were happy to anchor. Plus it’s free.

 

We spent a lazy afternoon watching the beach slowly swell with people enjoying all manner of watersports: kayaking, paddle surfing (we want to try this one!), sailing, swimming, windsurfing. As we motored over from La Rochelle we saw a lot of jellyfish lazily floating in the water, but this didn’t seem to bother anyone. However, my healthy respect for any sea creature, which, thanks to my Australian upbringing I assume to be capable of causing me all kinds of fatal and/or painful injuries, prevented me from jumping in the water myself. Nick’s foot injury barely allowed him to hobble around the boat, let alone go for an excursion to the beach, and the last thing he needed was a jellyfish sting to add to his increasing list of woes. It’s now been 6 days since he fell off his bike, and he’s still unable to walk without considerable discomfort. Ironically, cycling is the only way he can get around at the moment, so our bikes have been seeing a lot of action.

 

The next morning we sailed to Les Sables d’Olonne, which is one of France’s premier yachting ports. The Vendee Globe, a famous sailing race which takes the contestants non-stop around the world, departs from this port every 4 years. We made the decision to come here reluctantly because we’d visited this seaside resort last year and considered it a charmless place, but there was some rough weather predicted for the week and we thought it prudent to take advantage of the extensive facilities the marina and town provides. The view from the boat coming into Sables is rather off-putting: the stunning beach is somewhat ruined by the long line of ugly post-war high-rises stretching along its length. However, having spent the past 5 days here, we’ve reviewed our initial impression. The architecture improves as you move back from the beach, and although it hardly has the medieval charm of La Rochelle, it’s atmospheric enough to make up for its aesthetic shortcomings. This is also a main centre for boat building and is home to many large boating manufacturers, lending the area a rather industrial feel. The marina itself is interrupted by a large artificial island of factories and warehouses in the middle of it which is visible from pretty much everywhere, but there are also plenty of streets full of restaurants, shops and bars, which are far more pleasant. In short, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Sables d’Olonne as the perfect holiday destination, we’re enjoying our enforced stay far more than we thought we would.

 

Les Sables d'Olonne beach

Les Sables d’Olonne beach

The weather’s been a little unpleasant, but still warm enough for shorts and t-shirts despite the near-constant cloud cover and rain. We had some friends who are staying nearby come and visit for the day, and the sun was kind enough to make an appearance for them, but apart from that it’s been fairly grey and wet. We got soaked in torrential rain yesterday, and the french news has been headlining the unseasonably bad weather. However, we apparently only have one more day of rain, and then there should be some improvement next week. Our plan is to leave Sables on Monday and return to Brittany for the remaining 5 weeks until we have to be back in the UK.

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