Marennes, at the heart of the Marennes-Oléron basin is famous for the quality of its oysters but it’s also a dynamic administrative and urban centre with a range of activities. 

Introduction :

There are ten neighbourhoods grouped around the town centre. Ship-owners and merchants have left traces of their opulent lifestyle since the 16th century – imposing townhouses, bourgeois homes – of which gateways and staircases can still be seen from the streets. Marennes is also an important hub in the road network and is home to the Cité de l’Huître and Marennes-plage. The Cité de l’Huître, sited on the channel leading to La Cayenne, explains the operation of the oyster industry – the speciality of the Marennes-Oléron basin – in an interactive, fun way. As for Marennes-plage, the beach facing the Ile d’Oléron, it is the perfect spot for young children since it is very safe. The town centre of Marennes is lively with lots of shops in the pedestrian centre and the newly restored covered market.

Sites :

The Saint-Pierre de Salles church was rebuilt at the end of the 15th century. The spire, the highest in Charente-Maritime at 85m, graces a succession of buttresses decorated with pinnacles fitted one into the other. For many years, it acted as a lighthouse for boats that even today use it as a reference point. Extensively damaged during the Wars of Religion, the nave was rebuilt in stages starting from the 17th century whereas work on the roof and the gallery was not begun until a century later. The wall paintings and the stained glass are 19th century work. The Saint-Pierre de Salles church was listed in 1840.

The 18th century Château de la Gataudière is a huge edifice mixing the styles of Louis XIV, Regency and Louis XV. It consists of a single building with, in the centre, a façade standing slightly proud crowned with a pediment. Its owners include François Fresneau, the “father of rubber” and François de Chasseloup-Laubat, general of the army of Italy during the Empire. 

The Richelieu house is one of the oldest in Marennes and is to be found in Rue Le Terme, near the market. It was erected in 1650 and was Richelieu’s steward’s property; it was ransacked and set on fire during the Revolution but nevertheless has retained a magnificent Renaissance façade with two lion-head gargoyles at each end; it was listed in 1981.

The former sub-prefecture, an 18th century townhouse, the Hôtel des Fermes, the Hôtel de Bonsonge and the protestant Temple are all listed buildings that add so much to the architectural heritage of Marennes.