Dolus d'Oléron

Dolus d'Oléron is the biggest municipality in the southern part of the Ile d’Oléron, (2,900 ha) and extends from the east to the west coast.

Introduction :

Dolus d'Oléron has a huge variety of landscapes: woodland, marshes, vines, orchards, market gardens, pine forests and oyster-farming.

There are villages and oyster-farming ports. The large, fine sandy beaches are perfect for swimming. The marshes are ideal for bird-spotting: Dolus d'Oléron is home to the “Marais aux oiseaux” an unmissable site for nature-lovers. The water sports centre, Iléo is on the outskirts of the town.There are indoor and outdoor pools, spa treatments, aqua-aerobics and flumes. Fun, fitness and relaxation guaranteed! NB : Iléo is disabled-friendly.

Sites :

The St André church, dating from 1391 was wrecked by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion but rebuilt at the beginning of the 17th century. Today, it is seen as classical architecture, without any particular style apart from its Saintongeais bell-tower, unique on the island. The heavily ornamented high altar and the 17th century altarpiece sculpted in wood reflect the fashion of the time.

The house situated at 4 Grande Rue, close to the Place de l’hôtel de Ville is unusual: each element of its façade has a different décor. Two panels show that the owner was a sculptor and member of a guild and that the work (his masterpiece perhaps?) was completed in 1892.

Towards Les Allards can be seen a former pigeon-loft on the La Cailletière estate. The lower part is octagonal, crowned with a low cylindrical tower. The War Memorial situated in Rue des Ecoles is the work of a local sculptor – André Vincent. It shows a woman in traditional costume with her son on the tomb of her husband who had been killed in action, symbolised by a helmet placed on laurel leaves.  Her hand points to an inscription: “lest we forget”.

At La Perroche is a Romanesque chapel “lost in the middle of the sands” that was erected by “Priests, servants of God” at the start of the 12th century. It was part of the abbey founded in the name of St Médard.  It was pillaged by salt-farmers protesting against the salt tax, rebuilt and then destroyed again during the Wars of Religion. The Maltese cross embellishes the nave which was originally topped with a bell-tower, since fallen. At the end of the 19th century, the highways department replaced it with a construction of tarred planks, long since disappeared. As it is private property, only the outside of the priory can be admired.

Napoleon had great plans for La Perroche – he wanted to build a port, linked to the harbour of Les Trousses by a canal to the Perrotine channel to lift the siege of Rochefort by the English. Work was started but the ocean soon obliterated it.

The villages :

Two of the finest beaches are to be found at Vert-Bois and La Rémigeasse on the west coast of the island.

On the east coast can be found the oyster-farms of Dolus d'Oléron and in particular the little port at La Baudissière. The multi-coloured huts of the “peasants of the sea” bring typical charm to the site – some have been renovated and act as workshops for artists or craft-workers. Oyster-farming is still predominant – a brief stop to taste the produce is more than worthwhile! Les Allards, Les Bardières and Le Riveau, are authentic villages of traditional architecture.

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