The Ile d’Oleron is a seafoody and viney chunk of land attached to mainland France by a long bridge or viaduc, a little below La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast. We arrived here on Thursday after a short hop down from Montreuil Bellay and found an aire about half a mile from the village of St Denis d’Oleron which is close to the northernmost tip of the island. It is a large grass site charging 9 euros per night, electricity included.
There is good dog walking around the vineyards which surround the aire on all sides.
We had a couple of showery days but managed to cycle across much of the Island. On Friday we met Joy and Alan for a snack at a quayside restaurant on La Cotinière, a small port on the west of the Island. We had planned to have lunch but 3.30 pm proved too late for a proper nosh and we had to make do with fromage et pain (bread and cheese) for me and Alan and crêpes for the girls. We turned up in a heavy rain shower looking like drowned rats.
On Sunday we cycled the 3 miles to the lighthouse at Chassiron, on a lovely sunny day, past this collection of piles of balanced stones.
This is the local Phare or lighthouse, entry was free, but you were charged for the use of the defibrillator at the top, if you are rescuscitable after the 224 step ascent.
There were good photo-opportunities at the top.
This is the garden at the base of the Phare, cleverly embroidered around the divisions of a compass rose.
Lucy, Alan and I went for a walk over the rocks, checking the low tide exposed pools for anything edible.
We cycled back past this cunning stone contraption, apparently a copy of the fish traps used for centuries in the local waters. As the tide recedes, any fish dawdling or gossiping within the confines of the stones, when they should have been doing more serious fishy stuff, get stuck.
For our last night Alan cooked up a real treat…Chicken Teriyaki parcels…deep fried in rapeseed oil on his barbecue. As a side dish we had deep fried prawns in tempura batter. Absolutely delicious. Nia, the sous chef, provided a lovely mixed salad with all sorts of tasty stuff including french bread garlic croutons.
The next day we went our separate ways, Alan and Joy towards Brittany whilst we headed south, over the Royan ferry, to the Médoc.