Exploring The Exclusive Vendée Islands Part III: Île d’Oléron

L’île d’Oléron, the picturesque party island.

L’île d’Oléron is the biggest isle among all of the Vendée islands. Nicknamed “The Luminous Island,” l’île d’Oléron is well-known for its stunning beaches, postcard-style landscapes, and endless cycling lanes. Numerous groups of friends rent houses to enjoy the island’s many advantages. On the agenda: nautical sports, bar outings, and many encounters guaranteed!

Here is a little history on this island: in the beginning, l’île d’Oléron was inhabited by wild animals and covered with forests. As time passed, the island was dominated by several different countries, including: France, and England which led to turbulent times. It is only after the 1793 Revolution that oyster culture and vine cultivation started to develop on Oléron. From 1940, the island was under German occupation until it was freed in April 1945. You can visit the monument that was built in commemoration of the Oléron’s liberation.


There are three options to reach the island.

By car, l’île d’Oléron is approximately a five-hour ride from Paris. You can also take the bus or the train where the voyage is cut in half as you will have to change trains at La Rochelle. Expect a four-hour train ride in total.

Finally, for bus travelers, board at Paris Bercy, change buses at La Rochelle, and you will reach your desired destination… 10 hours later!


30 km long, l’île d’Oléron – like all the other Vendée lslands – is great for cycling fans. Lighthouses, museums, fishing harbors, 200 km of cycling lanes; the island is a true paradise both during summer and autumn. The climate of the island is very mild, which makes the experience even better.

La Citadelle du Chateau d’Oléron

17480 Le Château-d'Oléron, France

This is a must-see if you are ever on this island! Newly restored, the citadel is at the origin of the influx of tourists. Built in 1630 under the direction of Richelieu, the edifice had a defensive purpose. Later on, the citadel served as a prison during the 1685 Revolution, and in 1945 it was partly destroyed in a bombing raid. Today, the citadel hosts concerts and art exhibitions. One-hour guided tours are offered to experience this impressive former fortress.

The entrance of the fortress
The entrance of the fortress. FACEBOOK La citadelle du Château-d’Oléron

Le Port des Salines

Rue des Anciennes Salines, 17370 Le Grand-Village-Plage, France

Located at the heart of the island, Le Port des Salines is a harbor completely dedicated to the history of salt culture. It is the perfect occasion to buy some artisanal products and meet local artisans. We suggest taking a guided tour to fully enjoy this experience. Big bonus: at the end of the tour, you have the opportunity to taste the locally produced salt. Other activities are offered, such as: a tour of the salt marshes cabins, a boat ride to admire the flora and fauna of the region, and much more. Colorful, original, and historical; Le Port des Salines is a must-see to understand the island’s history, and the saunier’s interesting work.

Le port des Salines
Le port des Salines. FACEBOOK Le Port des Salines


Oléron is immensely popular among the French youth. Each summer, bars and nightclubs have their usual clients that return while everything is immersed in a great atmosphere! If you are searching for a fun-filled summer vacation, this is the island to visit!

Le Relais des Salines

Village Pêcheurs, 17370 Le Grand-Village-Plage

This charming little seaside bistro is the best spot to enjoy some fresh, and local seafood. Set in a former ostreiculture (oyster farming) cabana, have a seat on the terrace for a breathtaking view of the marshes. The cuisine is creative, and every dish is meticulously prepared. A la carte: hake, mussels and fries, fresh oysters, and much more. Try the round of roasted whiting and colonnata, it will leave you satiated! Pair the dish with a great wine from the restaurant’s extensive list, and you have a great meal for a reasonable price!

Le Relais des Salines on the marshes
Le Relais des Salines on the marshes. FACEBOOK Le Relais des Salines