Le Grand-Village-Plage

Le Grand-Village-Plage lies between Saint-Trojan-les-Bains to the west, Le Château d’Oléron to the east and Dolus d’Oléron to the north.

Introduction :

Le Grand-Village-Plage is a delightful little seaside resort, a hidden treasure between the ocean, marshland and a huge pine forest. Its beaches are amongst the best of the whole island and alone are a good reason for visiting. The municipality is only 6km² and best visited on foot or of course by bike since there are footpaths, cycle-paths and nature trails running in all directions. Swimming, surfing (a surfer’s “spot”), sand-yachting, hiking, biking, tennis… Le Grand-Village-Plage is perfect for the sports-lover!

Sites :

The “Maison Paysanne”, a typical traditional island farm plus outbuildings, houses a rich ethnographic collection. Furniture, tools, utensils…the kitchen represents the traditions of past centuries. On one of the outside walls can be seen a “fish perch”. Our ancestors used it to hang up their catch, a few metres above ground level so that the fish could dry in the sea breeze, too high for cats and for flies to lay their eggs! One of the outbuildings is home to the clothes and head-dresses museum. On show are traditional island clothing for work or for best, for adults or children and a large collection of ancient headgear including the famous “quichenotte”.

Le Port des Salines is a typical salt-marsh of the type to be found all over the southern part of the island for centuries. During the summer holidays, you can see the salt-farmer gathering in the flower of the salt and harvesting the cooking salt at the end of the day - a spectacle in itself! The salt-loft, where he stocks his produce is also his shop. Guided visits of the salt-marshes are available to learn about this age-old activity. An eco-museum traces the history of salt-farming and oyster-farming, the activity which replaced the harvesting of salt. Temporary exhibitions and events are regularly organised.  Once a week, Le Port des Salines is home to a farmers’ market that should not be missed, whether for the visual pleasure it offers or the taste of the produce. A trail, cycle-paths and boat-hire enable the visitor to discover the area at his or her own speed. Le Port des Salines was created in 1990 and is part of the Charente-Maritime Nature Sites network. The St-Joseph chapel, on the edge of the village is neo-gothic in style and parish registers indicate that it existed as far back as the 18th century. Children coming out of school used to throw pebbles at the bell to try to make it ring but over time, the weight of the stones that landed on the roof caused it to collapse.

The chapel fell into ruin at the beginning of the 19th century. The village priest, Jacques Antoine Ayraud managed to start reconstruction in 1809. Locals provided materials or financial aid but sadly, work stopped as money – and generosity – ran out. A few “good souls” finally enabled work to be completed. Elie Murat, a local artist, painted the superb frescoes in the chapel interior in 1990 – they represent scenes from local life.

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