The territory of Soulac-sur-Mer seems to have been occupied since the Bronze Age. During Antiquity, Soulac was obviously the end of a road called the Lébade (or Levade) that linked Soulac and the city of Bordeaux. In the books, Soulac's trace can only be found from the 11th century onwards, when the Benedictine monks established a first monastery in this rela-tively inhospitable region.
The Basilica of Our Lady was built in the second half of the 12th century and will be listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is in particular the popularity of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that contributes to making the region a religious centre of growing importance. Over time, as the Compostelan pilgrimage gradually fell into disuse, the city was prey to attacks from the elements and the constant advance of sand dunes, entire districts were gradually swallowed up. The basilica itself is a victim of the phenomenon.
The old Soulac
In 1741, the inhabitants evacuated en masse the "Vieux-Soulac" and gathered a few kilo-metres to the east, rebuilding a new village called "Jeune-Soulac". In 1744, when the basil-ica was buried under the sands, it was decided to rebuild it at Jeune Soulac: it is now the Church of Notre-Dame. In 1849, a private individual, Antoine Trouche, decided to buy the dunes of the "Vieux-Soulac" in order to develop a subdivision by the sea. To counter the advance of the dunes, he ordered the planting of a forest of maritime pines, the embryo of the current national forest at the Pointe de Grave. The first seaside villas bloomed a few months later, forming a small seaside resort called "Bains des Olives".
From yesterday to today
The arrival of the railway in 1874 allowed the small seaside town to take off. Villas are multiplying and some Bordeaux bourgeois people are getting used to spending a few mo-ments of relaxation there. At the end of the 19th century, Soulac-les-Bains, which later became Soulac-sur-Mer, adorns its waterfront with magnificent pontoons allowing direct and easy access to the beach. During the 20th century, personalities such as the poet Fer-nand Laffargue, Louis de Rotschild and Jean-François Pintat marked the history of the town. Nevertheless, one of Soulac's key figures remains Georges Mandel, who was mayor from 1919 to 1940. In the 1960s and 1970s, the city acquired new cultural and tourist in-frastructures (the museum, a casino, the congress centre).