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The community originated in from the unification of two communities on either side of the estuary of the river the Vie , Saint-Gilles-sur-Vie and Croix-de-Vie. Known for its important fishing harbor specializing in sardines , since Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie is also classified as a seaside resort. In the ninth century, the monks of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard settled in what was then called Sidunum , a priory and a fortified church. Croix-de-Vie appeared on the right bank of the Vie, when the Duke of Montausier granted Saint-Gilles plots of land on the "small island" so they could build their homes. This building was used for worship until the construction of Sainte-Croix Church in which is used today. Although Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie was three hours from Nantes and ten hours from Paris, the development of railways from the s increasingly allowed holidaymakers to reach the seaside town.