After spending several months on theisland of Oleron, we reveal our best plans to visit the island as an Oleronian.
The island of Oleron is the largest of the three islands of the Charente coastline in front of the island of Ré and the island of Aix. It is famous for its diversity of landscapes. In a single day, you can go from dunes to forest, from oyster beds to fish locks, from vineyards to small picturesque villages.
We share with you in this article, what to do and see on the island of Oleron, our 15 must-sees, our ideal itinerary for a weekend and our secrets to visit the island like a local. For us, the island of Oleron is clearly a paradise on earth!
- What is the most beautiful part of the island of Oleron?
- What is the most beautiful beach on the island of Oleron?
- Our 15 activities to visit the island of Oleron
- What to do in Oleron when it rains ?
- Itinerary for a 2-3 day weekend
- Where to sleep on the island of Oleron ?
- Where to eat and drink on the island of Oleron?
- Where to shop in Oleron ?
- Our good addresses on our map
- How to come to the island of Oleron?
- What to do around the island of Oleron ?
What is the most beautiful part of the island of Oleron?
It is impossible for us to answer this question. According to us, everything is beautiful in Oleron, even when it rains.
84% of the total surface of the island is registered as a classified site, of which 12% is forest, which guarantees the preservation of the landscape and heritage.
The island of Oleron offers a great diversity of landscapes, on a small territory, 30 kilometers long and 8 kilometers wide at most. With 100 kilometers of coastline, 70km of beaches, some with a view of the famous Fort Boyard, and 160km of cycling routes, you are bound to find a land or water activity to do.
The south of the island is more populated and the north wilder. We advise you to visit your favorite places at different times of the day, depending on the tides the same landscape changes completely.
What is the most beautiful beach on the island of Oleron?
In our opinion, Boyardville Beach, a large stretch of fine sand with a view of Fort Boyard, is the most beautiful beach on the island of Oleron. Ideal for families as it is supervised (point 3).
Our 15 activities to visit the island of Oleron
There are really many things to do and see on the island of Oleron, we were not bored at all even in winter. We could almost have started with a top 20 or 25!
- 1 ◊ Get some height ◊
Located at the northern end of the island of Oleron, 30 minutes by car from the viaduct, the Chassiron lighthouse with its white and black stripes, stands proudly at the end of the island.
Once at its feet, you will feel a bit like at the end of the world.
You can climb its 224 steps, to admire a beautiful panorama of the ocean, the wild coast and the compass rose gardens surrounding the lighthouse.
We also recommend a walk around the lighthouse for nice views of the coastline and the old fish locks. It is an old fishing technique, whose use goes back to the Middle Ages, consisting of a dry stone wall, having the shape of a horseshoe, at low tide, the fish are trapped.
Open all year round, full price 4€, reduced price 2€50 and free under 6 years old, tickets to be bought at the box office.
- 2 ◊ Château d’Oléron and its colorful huts ◊
This is one of our favorite places on the island of Oleron, located on the southeast coast, at the entrance of the island. According to us, you will find a summary of what the island of Oleron has to offer, a picturesque village, a beautiful fortress, an oyster port, pretty huts and a nice view on the bridge.
After exploring the city center, you can enter the citadel via the dormant bridge and passing under the Royal Gate. Within the citadel, get a good view of the viaduct that links the island to the mainland and of Fort Louvois. Then you can leave the citadel by the inclined plane to reach the port and its colored huts.
We advise you to pick up the“heritage circuit” brochure at the tourist office (place de la république open from April to October), which offers a detailed itinerary to discover the historical wealth of the Château d’Oléron. A little culture never hurts!
Our good addresses: the restaurant “Les Frits de Mer”, the bar “L’Annex” and the hut “G Céramique”.
- 3 ◊ The most beautiful beach on the island ◊
On the island of Oleron, you will have the choice between beaches facing theAtlantic Ocean (west side), more exposed to the wind, or beaches facing the mainland (east side), more family oriented and quieter with beautiful views of Fort Boyard, the Ile de Ré and La Rochelle.
On the northwest side, we advise you to swim at the supervised beaches, especially with your children, between the blue flags, because the waves can be very strong.
Boyardville beach, located on the east coast of the island, is a beach not to be missed! Bordered by the forest of Saumonards, this immense beach of fine sand, will offer you a beautiful panorama on the mythical Fort Boyard.
The beach is ideal for families, as it is on the mainland with few waves and is supervised.
A little tip for photographers, you can take nice pictures of Fort Boyard from the top of the dunes.
Sandy beach, supervised and easy access from the free parking
- 4 ◊ Explore the mythical Fort Boyard ◊
Fort Boyard, built to protect the Rochefort naval arsenal, is the star of the famous television show and thus of the Charente-Maritime region.
Obviously from the island of Oleron, you can go for a sea trip by boat or sailboat to get closer to it, the departure of cruises is located in Boyardville, at the pier of the port.
The interior of the fort cannot be visited, except if you are selected for the television game Fort Boyard, in this case do not hesitate to send us a small dedication of Father Fouras!
- 5 ◊ Unlocking the secret of oysters ◊
Fort Royer is the ideal place to discover the secret of oysters. It is a small oyster farm, built in the middle of oyster beds and channels, with a view of an incredibly beautiful coastline with oyster beds and bouchots in front. And in the middle of this amazing place stood the colorful huts of the oyster farmers. Very instructive guided tours are offered to learn more about the hard job of oyster farmer and oyster farming. Guided tour from 6€.
The village is located in the heart of the nature reserve, Moëze-Oléron, where thousands of birds nest. Explanatory panels along the coastline offer a beautiful and instructive walk.
We recommend the 17 Fort Royer hut, where you can enjoy hot or cold oysters. An authentic place with an incredible view of Fort Royer and the nature reserve.
- 6 ◊ Explore the island of Oleron by bike ◊
It is themain activity of the island of Oleron, with more than 160 kilometers of cycle tracks, you have enough to enjoy. For the most courageous, the current network allows to cross the whole island. There are barriers for bicycles everywhere on the island, especially at the beaches.
We have a small preference for the portion between Grand-Village-Plage and Château-d’Oléron. This itinerary in the interior of the island, will allow you to take bicycle paths crossing marshes populated with birds.
Please note that in high season, from mid-July to mid-August, we recommend you to travel by bicycle. To give you an idea, the island has grown from 20,000 inhabitants during the year to several hundred thousand during the summer season. The road infrastructure is not adapted to this number of people.
To borrow classic or electric bikes, we recommend the Beach Bikeschain of stores, very well rated on the Internet, with several stores on the island (if you need to be helped, it’s still convenient) and a nice team.
We got help from the store clerk in Grand Village when Matthew got a flat tire with his personal bike.
- 7 ◊ The must-do family activity ◊
Fishing on foot, accessible to all, is an essential family activity. Here are a few places, easily accessible, where you can go fishing on foot in Oleron without much difficulty. At low tide, the ocean gives way to rocks, it is an ideal place for fishing on foot, gray shrimp, crabs, tellin, cockles …
- Pass of the Ecuissière in Dolus-d’Oléron
- On both sides of the Oleron bridge
- Boyardville Beach
Fishing on foot is regulated, for more information on the authorized quantities, the authorized periods, we advise you to consult the site of theIODDE (Ile d’Oléron Sustainable Development Environment)
- 8 ◊ The most beautiful photo of the island ◊
The Baudissière channel with its colorful huts is one of the most photogenic spots on the island of Oleron. Artists and fishermen live together harmoniously. We advise you to walk between the huts and of course to take lots of pictures.
Our good addresses : la savonnière d’Oléron and Les moules à facettes
- 9 ◊ The port of La Cotinière and its fish market ◊
One of the main activities of the island is obviously fishing, the port of Cotinière is the 7th largest fishing port in France and the first in Charente-Maritime. Guided tours are offered to learn more about the assets of the port, the different fishing techniques, and some tours also allow you to enter the fish market. You can check the times of visits and prices in the different tourist offices of the island.
The other main activity to do in La Cotinière is to taste an ice cream, from the ice cream shop Les tamarins, located in front of the port.
- 10 ◊ Discovering the island through fun ◊
Discover or rediscover theisland of Oleron in a different way thanks to a life-size treasure hunt. We recommend the activity on the tracks of Ularius, a 100% original and Oleronian concept.
It is a life-size game, several teams compete in a succession ofenigmas, tests and quizzes. Throughout the rally, Vincent, your game master, will accompany you to provide you with a maximum ofanecdotes.
We love the concept, it reminds me of the great games I used to organize when I was a leisure center animator and the many escapes games we tested.
Information and reservation on the website: Sur les Traces d’Ularius
- 11 ◊ The most beautiful villages ◊
There is more to Oleron than the beach and water sports! We advise you to take a walk in the small picturesque villages with white houses and colored shutters.
We have a small preference for the following villages: the authentic Saint-Denis-d’Oléron in the north of the island, the dynamic Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron is the center of the island, stroll through the small streets without missing the house of Pierre Loti, the small port village of the Cotinière and the small seaside town of Saint Trojan Les Bains.
- 12 ◊ Sunset the best spot ◊
We love the huge and wild beach of Vert Bois on the west coast of the island of Oleron.
On this side of the island, you will be fascinated by the immensity of the sea and you can admire spectacular sunsets. An ideal place to enjoy an aperitif at the end of the day and which has proved itself after many tests! In short, a great time with friends or family!
- 13 ◊ All about salt farming ◊
Located on the commune of Grand Village, the port of the saltworks is always exploited.
You can walk through the salt marshes and learn more in the small museum open to all. A pleasant place in the middle of nature, which allows to appreciate the diversity of the fauna and flora.
- 14 ◊ The most photogenic beach ◊
Located in Saint-Denis in the north-east of the island, the beach of Boiries with its 36 colored huts, offers an exceptional panorama on the Island of Ré, the continent, La Rochelle, the Island of Aix, still and always on the Fort Boyard. You will certainly want to photograph them all!
- 15 ◊ Activities to do with the family ◊
- Geocaching: we advise you to download thefree mobile geocaching application: Terra aventure.
How does Terra Aventura work? the application proposes courses in different places in new Aquitaine, the players visualize their position on the map and must answer the enigmas to advance from stage to stage, two courses are proposed on the island a Saint Trojan and another in Saint Denis!
We love the principle of this application, because we are guided to explore the cities and we learn a lot about history, architecture, gastronomy… All this in a fun way, for young and old! Count on 2h30 to complete the courses and to find the treasure!
- The free and manual wooden merry-go-round in the port of Chateau d’Oléron, to combine sport and pleasure for the little ones!
- Take surfing lessons, several schools are located along the wild coast, most of them are very well rated on Google.
- The little train of Saint-Trojan, a round trip of 12 km will lead you to the wild confines of the Pertuis de Maumusson through the pine forest, inaccessible by car, a fun and pleasant activity for children.
- Port miniature Ti’bato in Saint-Pierre d’Oléron offers the rental of small electric boats (only from 9 years old) on the Prés Valet pond.
The island of Oleron is an ideal family vacation spot, although most of the activities listed above are suitable for children, here is a list of things to do especially for the younger ones:
What to do in Oleron when it rains ?
The island of Oleron is an ideal place for a family vacation, however the weather can sometimes be a bit capricious, don’t panic we have noted some ideas for activities to do indoors to escape the rain:
- Ludo Café in Dolus-d’Oléron, a recently renovated, pleasant and free toy library, with lots of games for the little ones (ball pool, cooking, dolls, first age puzzles…) and board games for the adults, we go there almost every week.
- The museum of L’Ile d’Oléron in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron, which gathers more than 500 objects. It presents the history of the island and its inhabitants over the centuries.
- Iléo a water park in Dolus-d’Oléron a swimming pool with a wellness area (with sauna, hammam, balneo pool and jacuzzi), which is transformed in July and August into a huge water park.
Itinerary for a 2-3 day weekend
If you have a big 3-day weekend, we recommend the following itinerary of all the best places on the island:
- Day 1: Concentrate on the east coast of the island, start with the Chateau d’Oléron and its citadel then in the afternoon explore Fort Royer then stroll or swim at the beach of Boyardville
- Day 2: Heading north to the lighthouse of Chassiron, then stop at the small village of Saint-Denis and the beach of La Brée Les Bains, then the port in the afternoon explore the fishing port of Cotinière
- Day 3: We recommend renting a bike to explore part of the island, then taking a ride to the port of Les Salinesand then to Saint-Trojan with an adventure rally before leaving the island.
Do not hesitate to stay 1 week to explore the whole island of Oleron at your own pace!
Where to sleep on the island of Oleron ?
On the island of Oleron, things to do and see are spread out over the whole island. We therefore advise you to choose a central accommodation to be able to go to the different points of interest easily.
The best place to stay is on the coast near La Cotinière, you can easily access one of the great beaches of the wild coast and you can enjoy the many night activities in high season.
If you really want to be in the center of Oleron’s life, we recommend the village of Saint-Pierre or Dolus-d’Oléron, where you can enjoy the many restaurants and markets while being only a few kilometers from the beaches.
Hotel and guest rooms
- With ocean view and swimming pool : Hotel Île de Lumière in La Cotinière, ideally located, with ocean access and a few minutes walk from the very lively fishing port of La Cotinière. The seaside decoration, with its soft and restful colors, immediately brings a spirit of vacation in the sun. Located on the west coast, the central location will allow you to easily visit both the south and north of the island. Free parking + breakfast. In short, go for it!
- Fully equipped apartment with pool : Le Pressoir accommodation in Dolus d’Oléron is an ideal option for families, as all accommodations have a kitchen and are fully equipped to make you feel at home. Ideally located a few minutes from the pretty village of Dolus-d’Oléron, and close to the Remigeasse beach.
- In the city center: Hotel Le Square in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron is an excellent option if you want to enjoy the center of Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron and its small restaurants. The hotel is nicely decorated and equipped with a heated pool. Public parking and breakfast.
Camping in Oleron
You will find your happiness by consulting the numerous campsites on the island of Oleron here, you can sort according to the type of accommodation and facilities offered (swimming pools, parking …)
- Camping les Flots Atlantique village: we have tested this campsite with our motorhome. It is ideally located south of the fishing port of Cotinière on the coast near Dolus-d’Oléron and Cotinière. It is a human-sized and family campsite with direct access to the ocean, by a small footpath, which offers bungalows, tents, chalets for rent. An ideal choice at a low price.
- In the north of the island with a swimming pool : Les Hameaux des Marines (Terre de France group), in Saint Denis, thiscampsite offers cottages and bungalows in a green and calm environment, located close to the beach.
Where to eat and drink on the island of Oleron?
We advise you to stop for lunch at the Café de la plage, it is one of our favorite restaurants on the island, excellent hot oysters and very good mussels marinière, Pineau, fourme d’Ambert…
With an outdoor terrace under the pines and in front of the dunes. It is a “kids Friendly” place, our daughter loves to go there, because the kids can play in the sand or in the little wooden hut with lots of beach games, located next to the terrace. Don’t forget to make a reservation!
- L’Ecume in Saint-Trojan : it is one of our favorite restaurants on the island, offering a refined and elegant cuisine with fresh products in a magnificent setting with a small sea view from the terrace, and it is one of the few restaurants open all year round (which even offers take-away menus for Christmas and New Year’s Eve), for those who came in winter to Oleron, you will understand that we were very happy to find a restaurant open out of season on Oleron, go there without hesitation! (we recommend the very affordable lunch menu and remember to reserve)
- Sea Fry on the port of Chateau, it is the fish and chips of the island, with a choice of breading and homemade sauce, in a great setting. The interior is decorated with artists’ works (Matthieu’s sister made the painting with the cute octopus at the back of the room) and the outside terrace overlooks a lovely little channel. (remember to reserve and take away service)
- Moules frites : we have two options that we really like, Mussel Fishing at Chateau d’Oléron which offers different mussel recipes to be eaten on the terrace in front of the colorful huts and Café de la plageThis is one of our favorite restaurants on the island, excellent hot oysters and very good mussels, at Pineauto the fourme d’Ambert … With an outdoor terrace under the pines and in front of the dunes. It is a ” kids friendly” place, our daughter loves to go there, because the children can play in the sand or in the little wooden hut with lots of beach games, located next to the terrace. Don’t forget to make a reservation! (remember to reserve the second one)
- Le Petit Burgeur in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron: Very good burger. Quality products and generous burger size. (open in the evening)
- Pizza: this is our favorite address in St. Pierre, Bella Ciao, the dough is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the pizzas are well topped.
Have a drink
We like the following places: The Annex’ at Chateau d’Oléron with concerts in summer and a nice terrace, the Médo, a wine bar in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron (open all year long) and L’Atypique in La Brée Les Bains with a nice view on La Rochelle and the Ile de Ré (open in summer).
Where to shop in Oleron ?
In addition to the well-known products, salt, oysters and Oleron wine. Many excellent quality food products are produced on the island of Oleron.
- La Lumineuse, in La Cotinière and Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron, a cannery made in Oléron ! For the different products, they favor local fishing as much as possible. Made on the spot, the products are elaborated without additive, without coloring nor conservative.
- The eggs of the Little Organic Farm, the hens are raised in the forest. We met Matthieu during the agricultural days who explained us with passion the history of his small farm. You can buy his excellent eggs at Super U and Intermarché.
- The bread, at Pain des Bois in Dolus-d’Oléron, Morgane selects her raw materials and bakes her bread over a wood fire. We, who are not big bread consumers, ate much more than usual, her bread is excellent! (open Monday and Friday bread to be ordered by sms)
- La ferme de la Poltière in Dolus-d’Oléron, for quality organic vegetables (open Tuesday and Friday)
- Maje organic wine in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron, we particularly like their white wine range.
Our favorite creators from Oleron
We lived several months on the island of Oleron, so we had the time to discover and exchange with several creators from Oleron.
We were pleasantly surprised by the number of creators in Oleron. We are delighted to be able to honor all these talented people here.
The soap factory of Oléron
As you have already read in our previous articles, for several years we have been making our own household products and cosmetics. Concerning the soaps, with the handling of soda, we were not serene. So I attended a workshop with Carole to learn how to make them ourselves.
In the end, by taking a few precautions and following Carole’s advice, it is very simple and I spent a pleasant afternoon, I left with a recipe and soaps. In short, a great gift to make or to offer.
Organic soaps made by cold saponification on the Ile d’Oléron, with love, by Carole and Louis. We recommend you to go to one of their two pretty huts (in Baudissière or in the port of Saint-Trojan), to discover their realization, don’t miss the black coal soap: the Chassiron + online sale.
The After Shop
It’s a mobile store selling second-hand clothes, as well as hand-embroidered clothes and dried flower bouquets made by the adorable and dynamic Sandrine. We buy almost all of our daughter’s clothes second hand, we have found some nice pieces at low prices for her and for me.
Stand to be found on the markets of Oleron
Løuløute & Simone
Løuløute & Simone, is an Oléronaise brand, specialized in hair accessories (scrunchies, headbands, barrettes…). All products are designed and manufactured by the talented Marie. His store, entirely renovated, located on the port of Saint-Trojan is a real little haven of peace.
I participated in a workshop where Marie gently and patiently guided me to sew my own maxi scrunchie. Another great gift idea to offer or to offer yourself.
Sales at the store and online, + workshop at the store or on the pretty terrace when the weather permits.
When we arrived on Oleron, after several months of traveling around Europe with our family in a camper, we needed to take some time for ourselves and create things with our hands. So we did a few ceramics workshops at the cabane G. Céramique located in Chateau d’Oléron, with Charlène.
The workshop takes place on a terrace at the water’s edge (at high tide), with a view of the pretty colored huts. It’s hard to find a more inspiring place to make your piece (mug, plate, trivet…). Then, the creations are sent once they are fired and glazed or you can come and pick them up (that’s what we did).
Our good addresses on our map
As you know, we love to write down all our good addresses and our itinerary on a map to facilitate our readers’ stay. Obviously, we share this map below with you:
How to come to the island of Oleron?
- By car: from Paris and Bordeaux, you must follow the A10 and exit at Saintes and from Paris exit at La Rochelle. The bridge of the island of Oleron is free.
- By train + bus: you can stop at the guard of La Rochelle then take the boat (from April to October) or rent a car. You can also stop at the Rochefort or Surgères train stations, and bus connections to the island of Oleron and Marennes are available all year round.
What is the price of the Oleron Island bridge?
Contrary to the viaduct on the island of Ré, the one in Oleron is free. We just advise you to calculate your schedule during high season.
Avoid, for example, Friday and Sunday, after 6pm, unless you want to spend your evening in traffic. If you have to leave the island on a Sunday, prefer to leave in the late morning then picnic and spend the afternoon on one of the pretty beaches in Marennes, located just off the bridge.
What to do around the island of Oleron ?
The city of Rochelle is located 1 hour from theisland of Oleron, is a city to visit absolutely that we have explored several times, especially when we lived in Paris and to attend the festival Les Francofolies. We will prepare an article quickly with all our good addresses. With its towers and its old port, La Rochelle offers a great diversity of nautical or terrestrial activities.
The island of Ré
This is the other island to visit in Charente-Maritime. You will also find charming white villages and beautiful wild beaches. The bridge to get there is not free.
Rochefort is an ideally located city, a few kilometers from the ocean and close to many tourist destinations, the island of Oleron (45 minutes), the island of Aix, the island Madame, La Rochelle …
A city steeped in history that was once an important maritime arsenal, including the home port of Hermione. Today named “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire”, its charming city center will seduce you immediately.
We had a lot of fun writing this article about this island that we love and know (almost) by heart. We would like to thank our families and friends who have given us valuable advice. We also update this article regularly since we come here regularly.
If you enjoyed reading it as much as we did writing it, feel free to give it 5 stars below!
We wish you an excellent stay in Oleron ! Feel free to drop us a note below to let us know if you are planning this trip, ask any questions or share on social media(our Instagram) we will be more than happy to respond!