Heritage

Marennes-Oléron has a rich maritime heritage with the Phare de Chassiron and the Moulin des Loges in Saint-Just-Luzac.
 
Military constructions have a significant place here also. The military monuments are the Brouage Citadels, the Château d'Oléron Citadel, and Fort Louvois in Bourcefranc. And of course there is also Fort Boyard with its eventful history. This "stone ship" has become internationally famous thanks to a successful television game show.

Numerous Romanesque churches are also present throughout the region. They reveal that Oléron was in a state of turmoil when it became a British territory during the Middle Ages and during the wars of religion when the Protestants and Catholics were fighting.

Aside from these major historical monuments, there are many other sights well worth visiting in Marennes-Oléron such as fish locks and unusual ancient constructions. You can contemplate these sites and also a vast number of villages belonging to Marennes-Oléron's 15 districts.

If you want to find out more about Marennes-Oléon's history and heritage you should visit the museums where you might be in for a surprise or two!

Fort Boyard

fort boyard oleron marennes
Situated half way between Aix and Oléron Island, Fort Boyard was initially built to protect the harbours of Aix Island and Rochefort. This construction project dates back to the 17th century. Colbert completed the Rochefort Arsenal in 1666. There was a great need for military protection. The 7 Years' War had just ended. Defence of the coasts was a priority at that time. But obvious technical difficulties made it impossible for construction to start. 
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Military heritage

heritage military oleron marennes
La Citadelle du Château d’Oléron constitue un ensemble fortifié complexe et remarquable. Son rôle était de protéger l’embouchure de la Charente et le port de Rochefort. La Citadelle fut construite en plusieurs étapes à partir de 1630.  Elle est le résultat de 5 campagnes de construction échelonnées sur 120 ans. Commencée sous le règne de Louis XIII, à l’initiative de Richelieu, la citadelle sera achevée au début du XVIIIe siècle par Vauban. Le travail final de ce dernier contribua à la construction d’un ouvrage mêlant beauté, équilibre, audace et puissance. Aujourd’hui, la citadelle accueille des salles d’expositions.
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Maritime heritage

lighthouse chassiron oléron
Oléron Island and the Marennes Basin's heritage possess an maritime heritage.The Phare de Chassiron located at the northern end of the island, was inaugurated on December 1, 1836. It is the oldest lighthouse in the region and one of the first that can be seen by approaching ships. It was built using Crazannes stones (a quarry situated between Rochefort and Saintes) and Vendée granite was used for its 224 steps that scale its towering 46 metres. Its staircase construction with risers is an unusual feature. Nowadays the lighthouse is entirely automated and under constant watch from La Rochelle. There is security staff working on site 24 hours a day in Saint-Pierre d'Oléron and the lighthouse is open to visitors all year round.
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Churches

church oleron marennes
Marennes-Oléron's religious heritage is rich. There is a church in each district. Some of these churches are listed historical buildings. Oléron Island counts several Romanesque churches. Such as the Saint-George d'Oléron church built during the 11th and 12th centuries, it is one the oldest on the island. It has undergone building work on numerous occasions throughout the centuries. From its initial structure, two aspects remain intact: the nave and the west portal. It was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1568 and later restored in the 17th century. Nowadays, with its four large columns and recently added oculus, the façade looks wonderful.
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Small heritage

small heirtage oleron marennes
Beyond the prestigious heritage sites, there are many enchanting places that deserving a look in Marennes-Oléron. There are fish locks dating back to the Middle Ages: when the tide begins to ebb the fish get trapped in the horseshoe-shaped locks. Please note that fishing is reserved to the co-owners of the locks. These 14 active locks also have a positive effect on coastal preservation as they break the offshore swell.
 
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Museums

musée ile oleron
Le bassin de Marennes et l’île d’Oléron comptent un nombre important de musées. Sur le bassin on dénombre plusieurs musées et lieux d’expositions. A Brouage, le bâtiment du XVIIe siècle la Halle aux Vivres héberge le centre européen d’architecture militaire. Ce magnifique monument accueille aussi de nombreuses expositions.
 
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