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The history of the town
of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

In the centre-west of France, on the Côte de la Lumière in the department of Vendée in the Pays de la Loire region, there is a beautiful town called Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. Opposite the Île-d’Yeu, with its fine sandy beaches ideal for holidaymakers and water sports, it is located precisely between Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and Saint-Jean-de-Monts. With an area of 48.9 km2, the town is populated by approximately 11,631 Hilairois and Hilairoises according to the results of the last population census. It borders the communes of Le Fenouiller, Le Perrier and Notre-Dame-de-Riez. It is bordered by about 10 km of coastline (the Atlantic coast), which makes it a seaside resort. This brief presentation is not the true face of the town. Indeed, the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez has evolved over time, and several events have written its history. In addition, great people have marked the history of this town since its origins. Knowing the history of this town is another way to discover it.

Saint-Hilaire also has cycle paths along the Vendée coast for those who love cycling.
Ideally situated on the Atlantic Ocean, it offers magnificent beaches.

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The key figures of the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

The history of the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez has not been written by itself. No less important people have contributed to it. We can mention among others :

  • Louis XIII who became famous with his historic military victory in 1622 on the island of Rié ;
  • Louis du VERGIER (1777-1815) who was very active in medieval battles ;
  • Henry SIMON, etc.

In their conquest, these different characters passed through places that today constitute the heritage of the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

The historical heritage of the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

With its rich history, the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez has a fairly diverse historical heritage. We have among others :

  • The former religious community of Saint Ambroise: indeed, Ambroise was one of the disciples of Saint Hilaire. This community disappeared during the French Revolution ;
  • The chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié: it was erected in 1610. Today, it is undergoing a complete restoration ;
  • The chapel of Sainte Marie de l’Océan: this chapel was built by the RENAUD family in Sion in 1900. Thirty years later, it was transformed into a residence (Villa Myriam). Today, it houses the tourist office ;
  • The district and former fishing port of Sion sur l’Océan ;
  • The church of Saint Hilaire ;
  • The salt marshes ;
  • The Trou du Diable ;
  • The beaches of the Demoiselles, etc.

It should be noted that the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez does not have any monuments or historic sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The presence of these monuments does not prevent the town from being dynamic. What activities and events are organised in the town ?

Key facts and events in the history of the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez

At the beginning of its history, the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez was an island (rié). The land on this island contained a bronze mine dating from the ancient period. Towards the end of the 17th century, the people of Notre-Dame-de-Riez and Croix-de-Vie lived in isolation on parts of the Bas-Poitou. In the medieval period, the island of Rié was one of the great seigneuries of the region. Several events marked this period for the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. In 1622, after having gathered a strong army and applied a good military strategy worthy of modern times, King Louis XIII conquered the island of Rié. This was the greatest military glory of the island in this period. Until the 1800s, several dynasties succeeded each other. Many other battles took place on the island of Rié during this period. During the Revolution, more precisely in 1789, the island was named “Revolution”. A few years later, in 1793, the town was named Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. Since 1930, the town has not undergone any administrative changes.

Some festive events that make this Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez special

Here are some events that make life in the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez more convivial :

  • The Festival vert lézard which is organised in the middle of August ;
  • The Fête communale which is on Ascension Day ;
  • The Festival des Petites Rues which is organised at the end of October, etc.