21 November 2018

At the beach in late October

Today is the first morning since last winter, I believe, that our thermometer has displayed a temperature below freezing. Not much below, but still... It's hard to believe that four weeks ago, to the day, we were in Les Sables-d'Olonne, on the French Atlantic coast, and people were out on the beach sunbathing.

I didn't know what to expect when we decided to drive through Les Sables, as they call it. We had been to La Rochelle a couple of days earlier, and while it was pretty and impressive, I thought Les Sables was even more impressive. It's a big port, and we drove along the wharf before discovering that it's also a big resort, with a fine beach strand.

I guess on a colder, grayer day it wouldn't have been so strikingly different from all the other places we saw on our trip to the Vendée area. It wasn't at all what I imagined. Especially considering we were there on the 24th of October. Remember, the warm Gulf Stream runs toward the north off the coast, and not very far out to sea. That tempers the climate. Besides, we had a very long, hot summer here in France in 2018.

Look at this photo on the French Wikipedia page for Les Sables. The town is located about 140 miles north of Bordeaux, and 130 miles southwest of Tours (our region) — so a 3½-hour drive from Saint-Aignan. It's 250 miles southwest of Paris. The population of the urban area at Les Sables-d'Olonne — three separate municipalities that are scheduled to merge in January — is about 50,000. It has been an important French port town since the 13th century. Tourisme and sunbathing came much later.

I can't believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the U.S. It's not a holiday here, of course.


  1. That's quite a photo from Wikipedia, especially enlarged. We human beings obviously just have an urge to live near the sea.
    Isn't today Walt's birthday? Steak au poivre one day and leg of lamb (?) the next...the kitchen's going to be a busy place.

    1. Whoops...I guess Walt's birthday is December 21st.

  2. That Wikipedia photo is amazing - really shows why one would want to live there!

  3. There's just something I love about the salty air-- I love being by the ocean.

  4. I might be mistaken but, on the Wikipedia photo, I think I can see on the Remblai something looking like the Phare Rouge where is was supposed to stand. Les Sables have certainly changed since the last time I was there some 90 years ago !

    Happy Thanksgiving Day to you, Walt, and your American readers !

  5. Pretty town. The water looks nice and clear in the wiki aerial photo, and the beaches look like they could be in CA.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?