Food (and wine) shopping
A true food market in Saint Pierre d’Oléron. Every day in season, 3 days a week out of season. Arrive early to find a parking place!
SuperU supermarket in Saint Pierre town centre (and next to LIDL) with in our opinion the best variety of products.
LIDL is easy to find on the main island road. LIDL is... well... LIDL.
Leclerc is the largest supermarket and the most popular. You’ll find it on the main island road, on the north side of Saint Pierre in direction of Cheray or Saint Georges. Expect a busy place and not so cheap after all.
The wine cooperative is on the main road just in front off Leclerc. The best place to get a very honest and local wine at an unbeatable price. Look at the French using petrol-station-pump-like to refill their wine crates, amazing!
Fishmongers: the cheapest one are not in la Cotinière (directly on the harbour) and you will see some large and well-deserved queues in front off fishmongers in Dolus on the main road, or in Saint Pierre in front off LIDL.
How to travel to Oléron
Open a larger map in a new window to see the nearest airport, ferry lines with the UK and roads to arrive to the island.
Approaching the Oléron bridge on Saturdays in July and August can be very challenging and the last kilometers will be done at a snail pace. Our shortcuts are not always fool proof, and require a good orientation sense. Do not take them without a GPS or a very detailed map. And finally keep in mind that these small roads are shared with cyclists, children and animals.
What we know of the bars and restaurants
With so much local and fresh products it’s not surprising you will find plenty of eateries and restaurants. In line with the spirit of the island it’s all simple affairs, nothing fancy and pretentious. In our guest book you will find comments and critics about the local restaurants left by our previous guests.
Le bar de la Gaieté. One of the nicest place to take your apéritif on the island, just in front of the harbour in la Cotinière.
Les poissons rouges on the harbour in Saint Trojan is excellent: good and simple food in a friendly atmosphere. Ask for a place on the terrace in the back if the weather is fine. http://lespoissonsrouges.e-monsite.com/
Route 66 is on the harbour in Saint Denis at the north tip of the island.
Discovering the area around la maison bleue
The website of Oléron tourist office: http://www.oleron-island.com
A wealth of information. Look for the agenda of events.
A glossy magazine: http://www.livingpoitoucharentes.com/en
Free if you find it, but you can always download it too. We like it.
The weather: Oléron has a micro-climate and is the second sunniest place in France after the Cote d’Azur. Don’t look at the weather channel too often, it’s depressingly good!
Sea surf and sun
Surf school: One of the most recent one on the island and the closest to la maison
This sailing school is in La Perroche close to la maison bleue: http://www.wind-oleron-club.fr/
Oleron has plenty of cycle paths or small country lanes ideal for bicycles.
History tracks in Oleron and around
One fantastic museum to mention close to Oleron is the Paleosite in the village of Saint Cesaire close to Saintes: http://www.paleosite.fr . This is a perfect day trip with kids. You will need about 01:30 by car from la Cotiniere. The Paléosite de Saint-Césaire is an interactive and modern museum, a combination of indoor and outdoor. In July 1979 bones of a young Neanderthal woman 35,000 years old were found here, then named Pierrette. The discovery led to new ideas about the Neanderthal people and the succession by modern homo sapiens in Western Europe.The Centre of Prehistory stretches over a 10 hectare park and a 2000 m2 inside exhibition. You will find indoors a time machine and lots of multimedia. Your visit will continue outside to discover different representation of the prehistoric men life like a camp of prehistoric hunters, the daily objects of a tribe and even a mammoth cemetery!
For the amateurs of fortified castles the Tour de Broue in Saint Sornin is the nearest opportunity to see an imposing building. There is also a “Pole Nature” offering walks in the marshland and its birds. Some of the walks are done in English. http://www.st-sornin.com/haut/histoire-patrimoine/broue-sentinelle-du-marais.html
Saintes – Mediolanum Saintonium for the Romans - played a primordial role as capital of the Aquitaine province. It was in any case the capital of “santons” country; a Gallic people submitted and assimilated by the Romans from which derives the name Saintonge. The amphitheater is one of the largest in the Gallic country and can be the object of a short visit, combined with the discovery of the city. Count a good 60 minutes to reach Saintes from La Cotinière. More spectacular is the forgotten city of Novioregum, in Barzan close to Royan: http://www.fa-barzan.fr. This was a roman city as large as Saintes or Bordeaux were in these times. It was rediscovered in 1975 with the help of aerial pictures showing the extent of the ruins. The site is worth visiting for its museum, which is very recent and uses all the new technologies to make its discovery a pleasant adventure. The visit can continue in the ruins with a guided tour. In summer there are numerous workshops and animations for all tastes!
Brouage fortifications are beautifully preserved and this village will be a perfect destination for one afternoon. But one of the best place to visit will be undoubtedly Rochefort. The whole city was built in the 17 Century around the new shipyards and the royal rope factory. In the shipyard you can see the replica of a 17th century frigate being built: L’Hermione.