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Our culture


The origins of the Hamlet

In 1856, Monsieur Teyssier, Mayor of Vendays, asked the Town Council to build a bathing establishment at "La passe du Gaul". In 1857, plots of land were allocated to residents who requested them, and the hamlet was given the name "Vilsaine" (a contraction of "healthy town").

In 1862, the road linking the hamlet to Vendays was excavated and the La Brède bridge built (1865-1871). In the meantime, a new name was given to the hamlet: "Montalivet".

The origins of the name "Montalivet":

Numerous legends exist, handed down or invented by our ancestors:
- following a shipwreck near Soulac-sur-Mer, the cargo of olives from a ship drifted onto the beach and made a heap: Mont Olivier
- a place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Virgin Mary is said to have been called "Mont des Olives ".
- finally, an Occitan origin: a shepherd named Libet lived on a dune; when his friends visited him, they would say "jou mounte à Libet".

However, the most likely origin remains that of a certain Jean-Pierre Bachasson, Comte de Montalivet, Minister of the Interior under Napoleon 1st, who is said to have inspected the coastline and planned dune-fixing operations.

Development of the Hamlet

After the erection of a statue of the Virgin Mary in 1868, and the creation of a seasonal mailbox in 1870, the arrival of the railroad in Queyrac in 1874 provided a link to Bordeaux. In 1885, the hamlet was extended eastwards to 224 lots.

In 1906, the monument to Jacques Laporte was created, followed by the first telephone in 1913, and the arrival of electricity in 1937!

Meanwhile, the creation of a lifeguard position in 1923 testifies to the development of the seaside resort.

The year 1950 was to determine the hamlet's current structure:
- opening of a naturist center (CHM), which led to the creation of the Fédération Française de Naturisme, signed in 1950
- the Volny-Martin subdivision was built (836 lots), considerably increasing the surface area of the hamlet.

In 1957, the construction of the covered market marked the start of a new tourist development.

Modern development had begun, and stewardship followed:
- in 1961: water supply
- in 1961: construction of the Post Office
- in 1966/67: creation of the airfield
- in 1970: construction of the sports hall
- in 1999: start-up of the 4th section of the "Les Pins de l'Océan" housing estate
- in 2000: judo, karate, dance and gymnastics hall
- in 2000: Maison de Glisse (sliding center)

Since then, the town of Vendays-Montaliet has gone from strength to strength, improving the quality of life all year round.


Montalivet is renowned for its beautiful beaches and surfing conditions. It's an ideal place to learn the sport, and there are plenty of surf schools and surf shops to rent equipment.
Whether you're a beginner or an experienced surfer, surfing in Montalivet-les-Bains is an experience not to be missed if you're passionate about the sport, or if you'd like to learn how to ride the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
The best time to surf in Montalivet is generally from summer to autumn, when the waves are more regular and the weather conditions are pleasant. But of course, surfing is possible all year round, and the locals make the most of it!

Respect for other surfers, bathers and local rules helps keep the experience enjoyable for all.

Find out more about surfing conditions here.

Photo credit: Marion Guillaume


Le naturisme est un mode de vie qui prône la nudité en harmonie avec la nature. C’est un mouvement qui encourage les individus à vivre sans vêtements dans des environnements appropriés tels que des plages, des campings ou des centres naturistes désignés. Le naturisme est un mode de vie qui encourage la nudité en harmonie avec la nature, basé sur le respect de soi, des autres et de l’environnement.
C’est une manière pour les individus de se sentir plus proches de la nature, de cultiver l’acceptation de soi et de promouvoir des valeurs de tolérance et de respect mutuel.

Montalivet-les-bains is the birthplace of naturism. The Centre Hélio-Marin (CHM), created in 1950 by Albert Lecoq, was the first naturist vacation center in Europe, and the place where the treaties on this lifestyle were signed. 

The term "naturism" is imposed to link nudism to nature.

For more information on naturism, visit the CHM website.

Photo credit: CHM Montalivet

Would you like to find out more about the history of Vendays-Montalivet?
Don't hesitate to visit our Maison du Patrimoine museum.
Find out more here.