La Grande Plage of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is the most popular beach in town. It’s a 3 kilometer stretch of coastline that is known for its bustling “Remblais” a pedestrian boardwalk that stretches along the beach and is filled with restaurants, cafes, and lots of terraces with ocean views.
This part of Frane is known for its dramatic tides or “marées” and La Grande Plage is a great beach to see these extreme tides on display.
During low tide or Marée Basse, the beach stretches out as far as the eye can see, making it a seaside paradise for kids. The water is traditionally warm in the summer, and the waves on most days are gentle, making it an ideal place for swimming and one of the reasons why it’s a popular, family-friendly beach.
But during the Marée Haute, or high tide, the wide sandbars disappear and only a small stretch of sand for sunbathing is available (60 feet or so). The tides are always the topic of discussion before heading to the beach, and it’s best to check the tide schedule to see what direction the tides will be going in before you arrive.
Getting to the Beach
In June you can most often find parking at this beach, especially if you arrive early, before lunch when all the restaurants and cafes will not be packed with people.
In July: Take le Passeur
- Starting from July1st-August 31st, Le Passeur is running, which is a small boat that will ferry you across the channel, from the fisherman’s port at Boisvinet, and drop you off on the side of the La Grand Plage. It’s the shortest boat ride you’ll probably ever take, spanning about 5 minutes, but it’s definitely quicker than walking all the way around town to get to the beach, and the kids love the boat ride!
- From the drop-off point, it’s a short scenic walk along the port and over the hill to the beach. It’s a nice path and well-marked.
- Le Passeur departs every 15 minutes and you can purchase seven roundtrips for just 12 €.
- BE AWARE: Le Passeur closes down for lunch. Typically from 12pm-2:00pm. So keep that in mind when planning your day
- From July 1st-13th driving to La Grand Plage is still possible, but it gets trickier to find a parking space, you may need to use the run-off parking lot at the mini-golf, which is just a short walk through the park to the beach.
- After July 14th (Bastille Day and a National Holiday) it’s pretty difficult to drive. Biking or Le Passeur is the best bet
- Driving to the beach in August is near impossible. The parking is very crowded with almost all the spaces taken before noon. Even the mini-golf lot is full!
- In August, biking or Le Passeur is really the best bet.
Walking to The Beach
If you don’t have a bike or Le Passeur is taking its lunch break, you can absolutely walk to La Grand Plage. (Just wear good walking shoes, bring a bottle of water, and a light beach bag ( I wouldn’t drag the beach chairs or umbrella for this type of walk)
- To get there from Boisvinet, you’ll walk over the bridge connecting Croix de Vie to Saint Gilles
- Walk along “restaurant row” of Saint Gilles (take the harbor side, it’s most scenic)
- Past the “Fete Foraine” arcade
- Then take a right at the roundabout, you’ll see a sign that reads “La Grand Plage”
- And walk up that residential street, et voila La Grand Plage is at the end of the road
- It’s a fun scenic trip that will give you a flavor for the town, and the walk up the residential street is a charming tour of some of the older architecture of Saint-Gilles
Eating at The Beach
Le Remblais or boardwalk has many wonderful restaurants and cafes to choose from. Most of which have a fantastic ocean view seat. One of our favorite restaurants is Les Cabines, a popular creperie with a fantastic menu.
Take a Video Tour of Les Cabines
La Cabane du Luc
- If you would like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Remblai, a wonderful respite with a fantastic view is La Cabane du Luc. It’s the very last place to eat on the Remblais and is mostly frequented by the locals who know it’s there.
- It’s a simple snack bar type of place that’s great for a Croque monsieur or a burger, they also make some pretty delicious crepes and gaufres for dessert.
- You’ll mingle with the surfing crowd as well since it’s located next to the surf and wind sports school.
Once you make your way up the path from the drop-off point of Le Passeur, you’ll arrive at the remblais and restrooms will be the first thing you see. They are intermingled with the blue changing rooms which are rented seasonally mostly for locals to keep their sand toys, umbrellas, and boogie boards in. There is also a changing station for babies too!
- La Grande Plage
- Check the Tide Schedule!
- Restrooms, restaurants, snack bars
- Limited parking in high-season
- Le Passeur is a great way to get there easily
- Be sure to stay for the ice cream! Many shops to try on the Remblais
- The Remblais is also a great place to also stay for dinner, and watch the sunset!