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Île d’Oléron: Empty Roads, Endless Charm

Setting off from Vannes we headed south again on the motorway. ( yes, we do use the toll roads when needed). We were heading for the Île d’Oléron but needed a stopover as I don’t like to drive too far in one day. Looking through our book of the ‘most beautiful villages in France we discovered that Vouvant was only 11km off the motorway and that there is a motorhome aire 400 metres from the village centre.

Medieval castle keep at Vouvant
Medieval castle keep at Vouvant
Typical house in Vouvant, France
Pretty house in Vouvant, France

Vouvant is a fortified village and dates back to the 12th century. The keep of the castle is still visible and it looks out over the pretty and immaculately kept village. A stunning mix of colour from the wild flowers including poppies were growing around the ramparts of the village and fluttering in the sunshine.

Motorhome aire at Vouvant
Vouvant motorhome aire

We were the only motorhome in the motorhome parking area, even though there is space for about 40. It cost us €5 for the night, a bargain considering the cheapest B&B in the village costs about €49 a night and our view was unbeatable looking out towards the medieval castle keep, the fields and….the cemetery! On the morning we were leaving Vouvant a small white van pulled up next to us. It was the local farmer selling fresh eggs. €2.50 for a dozen eggs and they were excellent. Payment for staying the night is made at the village boulangerie or a man in a van turns up at 9am to collect the €5.

Our next destination was the Île d’Oléron about 2 hours drive away. Driving a motorhome in France is far easier than driving one in the UK. The roads are straight, with few potholes and apart from around cities are generally free of much traffic. We encountered lots of empty roads which were a pleasure to drive on.

Motorhoming on the Île d’Oléron

Empty roads in France
An empty road in France

The spectacular bridge from the mainland to the Île d’Oléron is free. The island itself is 19 miles long with a population of over 21,000 and is criss-crossed with canals and cycle paths.

On the beach at Boyardville
On the beach at Boyardville

Our first stop was on the north coast at Boyardville, a pretty village on the river estuary but with a good number of restaurants shops and bars that presumably cater for the owners of the many boats in the marina. We stayed at the Aire de camping-car Fort Royer a lovely spacious place to park a motorhome, for only €10 a night including an electric hook-up.

Boyardville river estuary
Boyardville harbour

After one night in Boyardville we drove only a few miles to a huge leclerc supermarket at Saint-Pierre d’Oléron. It was one of those French supermarkets that sells virtually everything. We stocked up on beer and wine with some food thrown in there too!

Having never visited Île d’Oléron before we weren’t too sure where the best places to visit were, so after some research we decided our next destination on the Île d’Oléron would be La Cotinière, one of the largest fishing ports in France.

Where to stay on the Île d’Oléron

Using the ACSI app I found what looked like a good campsite and sure enough Camping Le Sous Bois turned out to be fantastic and a haven of peace and tranquility. The campsite pitches were flat and a good size and the facilities were clean and plentiful. The washing machines also meant we could do some much needed washing. €18 a night using an ACSI card.

Camping Le Sous Bois entrance on the Île d'Oléron
Camping Le Sous Bois La Cotinière
The fishing port of La Cotinière
La Cotinière fishing port

La Cotinière itself is a lovely fishing port. We watched several fishing boats arrive and unload their catch and we strolled through the town admiring the many restored and well looked after houses. We ate a lunch of moules & frites overlooking the harbour with the sun blazing down.

Le Château-d’Oléron

A short drive took us to our 3rd destination on the island and a motorhome aire next to the sea at Le Château-d’Oléron. (N 45.8964, W 1.20219). €11 a night including electric. It’s a short cycle ride to the town.

Fortress walls at Le Château d'Oléron
The fortress Le Château d’Oléron

Le Château-d’Oléron itself is the 2nd largest town on the island and is famous for its oyster port and its citadel. It’s also well known for its Sunday market so it was good luck rather than good planning that we arrived on a Sunday and were able to browse the many colourful stalls. We walked on the walls of the fortress that started construction in 1630 and it’s an impressive structure with fantastic views out to the mainland.

Small harbour at Le Château d'Oléron
Le Château d’Oléron harbour

We were impressed with the laid back feel to the Île d’Oléron. It’s got plenty of campsites and motorhome aires. I love the fact that French tourist destinations normally have plenty of places to park motorhomes. Car parks often have specific areas in car parks for motorhomes. Despite the large number of motorhomes on the island there is still plenty of places to park.

I would recommend a visit to the Île d’Oléron. The weather was very good and we would certainly go to the Île d’Oléron again.

La Cotinière fishing harbour
La Cotinière fishing harbour
Artwork in the fortress at Le Château d'Oléron
Inside the fortress at Le Château d’Oléron
Fortress walls at Le Château d'Oléron
View from the fortress walls at Le Château d’Oléron
Narrow street in Le Château d'Oléron
Pretty road in Le Château d’Oléron

Read more articles about touring France in a motorhome

Exploring the Normandy D-Day landing beaches by motorhome

What to see on Île de Ré – Motorhome guide

Visit St Malo: A Complete Guide for Motorhomes

Chenonceau – Possibly the best château in France.

Discover the Bordeaux Wine Region: A Motorhome Guide

Dune du Pilat – one of the most amazing places in Europe

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