Ile d’Oléron is France’s largest isle after Corsica with 175km². Located in the south-west Atlantic coast, it is administratively part of the Charente Maritime department - Poitou-Charentes region. It is connected to the mainland by a 2,862km bridge - the longest one after Ile de Ré bridge. The isle houses 19,000 inhabitants during the year and is part of the Pays Marennes Oléron area. It is nicknamed ‘Oléron la Lumineuse’ (literally Oléron the luminous) due to its annual high sunshine rate, its weather can be thus compared to the one in south of France.
Ile d’Oléron is synonym of preserved nature, sandy beaches, pine woods, sun, sea and holidays. Far from the noisy cities, the isle is the best place to recharge your batteries. It is composed of 15 towns where nature, cultural heritage, hobbies and gastronomy are gathered. Its diversified landscapes and good weather make it a charming place either to spend holidays or to settle in. This is the paradise for water sport lovers: surfing, sand yachting, canoe-kayaking not to forget windsurfing. Fishers will also be satisfied: angling, sea fishing or gathering seafood on the beaches are attractive and relaxing activities. Ile d’Oléron is also a great place to thalassotherapy. By foot, bike or riding a horse, discover numerous woods and marshes with a rich and diversified wildlife.
Gaze at its beautiful cultural heritage: fortifications, maritime monuments, citadels, Roman churches and local architecture. Fort Boyard, the majestic ‘stone vessel’ has become one of the most popular national monuments.
For people willing to sailing, catamarans, cruise ships or sailboats will allow you to admire the amazing Atlantic scenery. Other activities may be practiced: cycling, hiking, playing golf are some examples to spend a memorable period in Ile d’Oléron.
Ile d’Oléron is directly reachable by boat (with Les Vedettes Oléronnaises, Croisières Océanes or Croisières Inter-Iles) but you are other possibilities. Regular flights from La Rochelle-Ile de Ré airport lead to Bristol, London, Dublin, Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Edinburgh, Cork, Lyon and Nice. You can also take the train: several destinations like Rochefort, Saintes or Paris (less than 3 hours).
|Location||% of houses||% of second homes||Prices in 10/08 per sq m||Prices in 03/09 per sq m|
|Saint-Trojan les Bains||84.9%||59.4%||3640||3660|
|Grand Village Plage||97.3%||56.5%||///||///|
|Le Château d'Oléron||91.1%||27%||3250||3120|
|Saint Denis d’Oleron||90.6%||69.2%||3700||3800|
This table clearly shows how touristy may be Ile d’Oléron: with about 58% of second homes, the isle represents an interesting place for buy-to-let investments. La Brée-les-Bains seems to be the location offering the best rental opportunities as it has over 76% secondary properties. However, this is the most expensive town of the isle, which may be explained by a high demand on rentals. On the contrary, Le Château d'Oléron houses considerably more inhabitants than holidaymakers: it could be the perfect town if you are looking to settle in a quiet place in Ile d’Oléron. Accordingly, this is the cheapest town of the island.
To get updated info about the property prices in the Charente Maritime departement, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Gourmet food: aquaculture, oyster-farming, mussel culture, wine-growing and salt culture are the main economic resources of Ile d’Oléron. The Marennes-Oléron oysters are of course the local gastronomy’s spearhead. Furthermore, this is the only kind of French oyster being awarded by the Label Rouge. Fishes and seafood are also an important part of the gastronomic heritage of the island. Rope-grown mussels are used for a typical dish called l’églade made of mussels, white wine, salted butter and pine needles. Another particular meal to be tasted is old oysters with melted leek. The famous Marennes-Oléron oysters are probably one of the reasons of such a high number in tourists in the isle.
Tourism & Sights: Ile d’Oléron is an attractive place for a buy-to-let investment since it is very touristy during summer. Besides, it has more second homes than main homes. With its wonderful diversified scenery, relaxed way of living and gourmet food, the isle should represent a good investment! It is without any doubt the location offering great rental opportunities.
Street markets: they are the best way to meet the locals and speak with them. They will probably tell you the story of their isle and their produce. In summer, you can also meet tourists who give the town markets dynamism and great charm. They are meeting places where you can taste any typical speciality.
Lifestyle: there, the way of living is relaxed, tranquillity and scenery are the two characteristics of Ile d’Oléron. Sea is easily accessible wherever you decide to settle. You will find typical produce and the real French art de vivre.
Pineau, wine and Cognac: this is the right order to taste each alcoholic local drink. First, Pineau des Charentes is to be drunk during the aperitif. Either white or rosé, it is a local drink derived from Cognac with a sweetened taste. Then, to accompany your meals, Oléron wines will be perfect. Finally, a Cognac could be the occasion to help you digest.
Typical charming villages are usually composed of fishermen’s houses with white painted facades and green or blue shutters. Most properties have also a chimney and only a few have more than one floor.
Oléronaise houses: the main characteristics of these one-storey properties are that they are located in quiet places near to the sea. They often have a closed courtyard, terrace, garden planted with trees and a land. They have a rectangular shape and white painted front façade with green or blue shutters.
Wine warehouses: as in Ile de Ré, these kinds of properties were originally used to have the wine grown. Thus, they are composed of a single small room and are today more and more converted into homes. However, they often need renovation but their price is lower than any other property.
Villas: they are luxury and modern properties with a swimming-pool, a garden and a garage. They have the same characteristics of most houses in Ile d’Oléron i.e. white painted facades and one floor only.
Click here for more info about the Poitou-Charentes Architecture.
Saint Denis d’Oleron: with its rough sea in the north-west, it allow surfers and windsurfers to pratcise their activity at any time. The north-east beaches are more interesting for family bathing, sailing or water-skiing. Not to be missed: Chassiron’s lighthouse. It has black and white colours to be recognized during the day. Climbing its 200 steps - 50m tall - will allow you to admire the view: Ile de Ré, La Rochelle, Ile d’Aix and Fort Boyard.
La Brée-les-Bains: it has been administratively independent since 1953. Thus, this is the most recent and the least populated town in Ile d’Oléron. Fish locks are the main attraction of La Brée-les-Bains. This is a good place for gathering seafood by foot and admire salterns.
Saint-Georges d'Oléron: it is the second town of the isle in terms of population – 3,200 inhabitants. Due to its touristy attraction, several street markets are organized everyday during summer. Not to be missed: the church, chapels and sundial. You can also take a walk in the surroundings and admire the vineyards and market gardener cultures, the two harbours and its long beaches. From there, you have an amazing view on Fort Boyard amongst others.
Saint-Pierre d'Oléron: it is the most populated town of the Ile d’Oléron with 6,000 inhabitants. It used to be an important place for trade (salt and brandy). Not to be missed: the Lanterne des Morts built at the time of the English occupation during the 12th century. The hexagonal bell tower of the church offers a view over the whole isle. The acquarium and the fishing harbour are other interesting visits.
Dolus d'Oléron: landscapes are diversified from this town (dunes, woods, sand, vineyards, salterns, oyster parks and beaches). This is a touristy destination located at an important junction: roads lead to Château d’Oléron, Saint-Trojan, La Rémigeasse and Boyardville.
Le Château d'Oléron: it houses the famous fortified citadel which is amazingly beautiful either when sun is rising or at sunset. This 3,600 inhabitant town welcome each summer about 20,000 tourists. Not to be missed: the memorial of New France soldiers, citadel’s festivals, Renaissance sculpted fountain, multicoloured cabins and oyster-faming harbour.
Grand Village Plage: it is located at the edge of the huge state-owned wood. Not to be missed: its small chapel, saline harbour, oyster-farming cabins and birds. You may also visit the artificial saltern and oyster farms. Its residents will probably give you the best welcome.
Saint-Trojan les Bains: situated between the sea and the wood, this is the most wooded town of Ile d’Oléron – almost 75% of its land is forested. Saint Trojan soil is ideal for the onion, salt and oyster culture. Not to be missed: the oyster-farming museum, the scenic railway, Roman church, multicoloured cabins. In February, the Mimosa festival is a touristy attraction.
|Take a closer look at the Charente Maritime property market:|
|Ile de Re Property Information||Jonzac Property Information|
|La Rochelle Property Information||Pons Property Information|
|Saintes Property Information|