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Coordinates: 45°54′N 1°18′W / 45.9°N 1.3°W / 45.9; -1.3

Île d'Oléron is located in France
Île d'Oléron

Île d'Oléron (English: Island of Oleron) is an island off the Atlantic coast of France (due west of Rochefort), on the southern side of the Pertuis d'Antioche strait. It is the second largest French island after Corsica (not counting French overseas possessions).



In the seventh and eighth century the island, along with , formed the Vacetae Insulae or Vacetian Islands, according to the Cosmographia.[1] Vaceti being another name for the Vascones, the reference is evidence to Basque (Gascon) settlement or control of the islands by that date.

It was at Oléron in about 1152 to 1160 that Eleanor of Aquitaine introduced the first 'maritime' or 'admiralty' laws in that part of the world: the Rolls of Oleron. In 1306, Edward I of England granted the island to his son, Edward II, as part of the duchy of Aquitaine.

On March 20, 1586, the Island was taken by Agrippa d'Aubigne.


Aerial photograph of Oleron

The island has an area of about 175 km2. It is a fertile and well cultivated island on the Atlantic coast of France, that is on the Bay of Biscay.

The climate is generally mild (maritime temperate) with sufficient but not excessive rainfall, but with probably from 3 to 15 days of intense heat in the summer months of July and August, mostly grouped.[2]


Administratively, the island belongs to the Charente-Maritime département, in the Poitou-Charentes région. The island is divided into 8 communes:

Saint George's church, Oléron

The island has about 19,000 inhabitants.


Île d'Oléron bridge, seen from Le Château d'Oléron

Since 1966, the island has been connected to the mainland by a road bridge. With a length of 2,862 m (9,390 ft) between abutments, it was the longest bridge in France at the time of construction. It is now the third one, after the Saint-Nazaire bridge and the Ile de Ré bridge. It has been toll-free since 1991.


Le Château-d'Oléron, 1703 military mock-up.

As a large Atlantic island only 3 kilometres off the Aquitanian coast of France, Oléron is a popular tourist destination. There are lovely beaches, surfing and horse-riding are catered for and there are many interesting old buildings.[2]


  • Collins, Roger. "The Vaccaei, the Vaceti, and the rise of Vasconia." Studia Historica VI. Salamanca, 1988. Reprinted in Roger Collins, Law, Culture and Regionalism in Early Medieval Spain. Variorum, 1992. ISBN 0 86078 308 1.

External links


  1. ^ Collins' book, p. 214.
  2. ^ a b by La Maison du Tourisme de l'ile d'Oléron et du bassin de Marennes 2007

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

OLERON, an island lying off the west coast of France, opposite the mouths of the Charente and Seudre, and included in the department of Charente-Inf erieure. In 1906 the population numbered 16,747. In area (66 sq. m.) it ranks next to Corsica among French islands. It is about 18 m. in length from N.W.

to S.E., and 7 in extreme breadth; the width of the strait (Pertuis de Maumusson) separating it from the mainland is at. one point less than a mile. The island is flat and low-lying and fringed by dunes on the coast. The greater part is very fertile, but there are also some extensive salt marshes, and oyster culture and fishing are carried on. The chief products are corn, wine, fruit and vegetables. The inhabitants are mostly Protestants and make excellent sailors. The chief places are St Pierre (pop. 1582 in 1906), Le Château d'Oleron (1546), and the watering-place of St Trojan-les-Bains.

Oleron, the Uliarus Insula of Pliny, formed part of the duchy of Aquitaine, and finally came into the possession of the French crown in 1370. It gave its name to a medieval code of maritime laws promulgated by Eleanor of Guienne.

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