There are three state-owned forests on the île d’Oléron located in the municipalities of Saint-Trojan-les-Bains and Saint-Georges d'Oléron (the forests of Les Saumonards, Domino and Les Sables-Vigniers). With a total surface area of 2,900 hectares, 12% of the île d’Oléron is covered by these large woodland areas where maritime pines, holm oaks and broom all grow. There is a large, safe network of footpaths ideal for nature walks.
Walks in the heart of the natural landscape
The woodland areas on Oléron are mostly composed of maritime pines and holm oaks although you’ll come across many other plant species in the undergrowth such as broom and flax-leaved daphne. A real interface between the ocean and more built-up areas, these forests were planted to protect villages from encroaching sand, the trees creating a barrier to the sand’s movement. The forests of Oléron are rich in wildlife. As a result, they are protected under Natura 2000 and Espace Naturel regulations.
Being state-owned, the forests are managed by the Office Nationale des Forêts (the French Forestry Commission), with several members of staff based on the island. They take care of tasks relating to tree-planting, felling, maintenance and clearing. State-owned forests produce about 3,000 m3 of wood annually. These forestry professionals aim to work in tandem with the natural world and manage these assets responsibly.
Did you know that the forest of Saint-Trojan-les-Bains was used for many years for the collecting of pine resin? Planted at the start of the 19th century to hold the sand dunes back and protect the village, the pines of the forest of St-Trojan also represented a new economic resource in the shape of the pine resin that they naturally produced. A first wave of resin tappers from the Landes region came to work in the forests of Oléron. Occasionally you will find sandstone pots in the woods, evidence of the presence of the resin pickers who would attach them to tree trunks with a nail and ‘blood’ the tree to encourage the flow of resin.
Animal life includes wild boar and roe deer, which early-risers should be able to see without too many problems with the help of binoculars. Experienced guides lead forest tours which make it possible to see animals in their natural habitat – make sure to check out the programme of tours at the local tourist office. Several non-profit bodies put on activities and guided tours in these forests including Les Sorties de la Renarde, the Office national de la forêt and the Maison de la Nature...
Forests are a special place in which to enjoy walking amidst the natural world on the île d'Oléron. They are well served by numerous marked footpaths, cycle paths and fitness trails. Picnic tables and hitching posts have also been installed near the entry points to beaches. In short, the forest is the perfect place for anyone wanting to recharge their batteries and unwind!