La Baule - History of a great resort

In 1779, after a violent storm covered the village with sand, it was rebuilt further inland. At the time, the only people found on the very unstable dunes were the Custom's officers, who called the area La Bôle, meaning a low-lying maritime grassland. Today the town of Escoublac has new vitality due to the renovation of its town centre and the organization of numerous events (regional products market, the creation of a center for associations, etc.).

The resort's history begins with the inauguration of the Nantes-Guérande rail link in 1879.

However, the true change from a place-name to a burgeoning resort is solely due to the action of two businessmen, Mrs Benoît and Berthault. After buying the rights to use the dunes Escoublac achetées, they implementing plantation of pines to stabilize the soil. The result is surprising : located at the heart of a bay stretching over 8 km, La Bôle beach extends onto a young forest of 700 hectares of maritime pines.

The beauty of the site was not lost on two Parisian promoters, Mrs Hennecart and Darlu. They purchased some forty hectares of dunes around La Bôle, and as of 1890, with the help of contractors and shopkeepers, created a seaside resort, from start to finish. La Bôle became La Baule (1896), with streets drawn out from the avenue de la Gare (today's avenue de Gaulle) linking the station to the seaside, with more and more buildings, a promenade on the seafront and a pier set up...La Baule become a privilieged site for healthful, family holidays.

The Pavie quarter provided an additional dimension to the new seaside resort, thereafter marked by festive and social events. In 1896, Mr. Pavie inaugurated the Institut Verneuil. This was the first center to treat children with tuberculosis, aimed to attract regular visits from wealthy families and encourage them to invest in the area. The operation was successful, and the Institute became the Hôtel Royal in 1902. Luxurious villas sprang up around it. A Casino was built in 1904. In fact, many of today's avenues in La Baule follow the former promenade paths on the grounds of vast properties built at the time, which explains the sometimes surprising lie of the roads.

The tourist phenomenon grew stronger in the 1920's. World War I, had transformed the Guérande peninsula into a huge center for landing, garrisons and rest and recreation for the Allied forces, enabling La Baule to build up an international clientele. From 1920 on, François André devoted his efforts to aquiring the loyalty of these new customers. Le Casino was enlarged, luxury-item shops appeared, L'Hermitage was built, sports facilities set up (Tennis courst, Riding school, Pigeon shooting, 18 hole golf course ...). At the same period, another quarter was created under the impetus of Louis Lajarrige, called La Baule-les-Pins. Finally, a landfill was built, and named Boulevard de l'Océan, a unifying symbol of La Baule.

From the 1950s on, La Baule experienced new development linked to improved living standards, paid holiday leave and the boom of the automobile. Its architecture evolved to accommodate this new influx of holiday-makers : the villas on the landfill were replaced by residential buildings enabling more people to enjoy the seaside. Campsites, family homes, and holiday camps appeared on the scene. Seaside stays became accessible for most people and shops immediately developed to meet the new demand. Popular tourism led the resort to increase its accommodation capacity, notably with buildings on the seafront boulevard.

Today, La Baule holds a pleasure capital which can attract a wide public. Business tourism now complements the resort's many assets.


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