Labenne is a seaside resort on the coast of Landes, developed in the 19th century when Napoleon IIIth dries out the marshlands and the explotation of the resin forests begins.
The origin of the name “Labenne” comes from the Occitan name “La Pena”, which means “the hight”. There is a quarter in Labenne called “The Mountain”.
In the Middle Ages, Labenne and Capbreton were part of the same parish. Both communities remained together till the end of the 18th century in the royal domain of Labenne-Capbreton. The customs of this domain are particularly liberal: freedom of hunting and fishing, having their ownhouse or tilling the fields.
Before the French Revolution, Labenne was a shepherding and agricultural village: maize, wheat and millet growing ... and a few vineyards. Every family rears some sheep, a cow and the traditional pig.
The Napoleon family has deeply marked Labenne. In April 14th, 1808, Napoleon I stops nearby the marshland and promises to transform it into a farming field.
He creates the domain of Labenne and dries out the marshland. His son, the Count Walesky installs pumps to aspire the water from the marshland. He builds canals, roads, and farming starts then. After the the death of Napoleon IIIth, the domain becomes private. The upkeep and the costs of pumping are very high. The growing of maize, no longer economic, is abandoned in 1984.
In 1989, the domain of Orx is bought by the Coastal Authority and one year later it becomes a Natural Reserve. Nature regains its rights, the marshland becomes then a wonderful halt for migrating birds.
In the 20th century, the separation between Labenne and Capbreton takes place. After a long process, Labenne loses 400 hectares of forest land in favour of Capbreton. This community, where agriculture and sylviculture are traditional, opts for industrialisation; a factory for the distillation of resin products is built.
At the same time, tourism is developed on the Coast of Landes (Côte d’Argent).
Jules Bouville, Mayor of Labenne, decides to create a seaside resort, named Labenne Ocean. In a very short time, lots of holiday makers arrive, which contributes positively to the rise in popularity of the community.
The Hélio Marin Institute, place of healing for chronic bone illnesses, in need of the sun in a marine climate, contributes a lot to this growth.