Saint-Georges d’Oléron is a tiny city of around 3,000 inhabitants on the eastern side of the island of Oleron, on the Atlantic coast of France. The city makes a good base from which to explore the island, with its beaches and other natural attractions. There are lots of activities of interest to travellers here, including surfing, fishing, sailing, kayaking, windsurf, hiking and biking. With outstanding wildlife, the area is a treat for nature-lovers and bird-watchers alike. The area is famous for its fine gastronomy and, in particular, its high quality oysters in addition to its superb fresh lobster, langoustine and fish.
Who to Book With
If you are arriving by plane, you will be able to rent a vehicle at La Rochelle Airport or Bordeaux Airport. All of the leading car rental companies, such as Europcar, Sixt, Budget, Avis and Hertz, are represented at these airports. It’s a good idea to book a vehicle ahead of arrival in order to guarantee availability and to achieve the best deal possible. The best way to do this is to use our car rental comparison website.
Best Time to Go
The island of Oleron has a mid-Atlantic climate thanks to its position as the southernmost of all the islands found on the Atlantic coast of France. The weather is often sunny, hence the island’s name, Oléron, which means ‘bright’. The best time to visit is in the summer months, which tend to be dry and sunny, while winters are generally mild and wet. April and May and September and October are also good times to visit, with reasonable temperatures and a decent amount of sunlight.
Need to Know Essentials
On signing for your rental vehicle, you will be asked to present the following documents:
- An International Driving Permit or a current DVLA driving licence
- A valid passport or other form of personal identification with photograph
- The same credit card used to make the reservation
- A printed copy of the confirmed reservation
For more info, read our FAQs.
The island’s roads are well maintained, making exploration by rental car a real pleasure. However, bear in mind that there is considerable traffic congestion on both sides of the bridge during the peak season. Traffic jams frequently occur at weekends in July and August, with the worst time being late afternoon through early evening. The best time to cross the bridge is during the night. Traffic can also build up on the main road that crosses the island: stick to the smaller roads around the coast if possible and you’ll discover some great little places on the island.
Further tips on driving here in our Guide to France.
If you rent a car on the mainland, you can reach Saint-Georges-d’Oléron by means of the Île d’Oléron Bridge, constructed in 1966, at which time it was France’s longest bridge. Parking in and around Saint-Georges should present no problem at any time.
Train services on the national SNCF railway reach La Rochelle, Rochefort and Surgéres. For information about departures and tariffs, consult the rail provider’s website.
Three bus routes operated by Les Mouettes serve the island of Oleron. Line 6 runs from Surgéres via La Rochelle. This express service connects directly with train services at the station in Surgéres. Line 23 runs from La Rochelle to Oleron. For information, call +33 811 36 17 17. Note: these bus services terminate in Saint-Pierre therefore visitors to Saint-Georges will need to make further arrangements from Saint-Pierre to their accommodation in Saint-Georges.
It is possible to reach the island by Liaison Maritime fast ferry in 50 minutes directly from the centre of La Rochelle. The ferry terminal in La Rochelle is located just 10 minutes’ walk from the main railway station. On arrival, the boat docks in the port of Boyardville, a district of Saint-Georges-d’Oléron.
There are a handful of local taxi cab firms in Saint-Georges, including Taxi Egreteau (+33 546765599).
Since public transport options on the island of Oleron are limited, it makes sense to rent a car so that you can make the most of its marvellous landscapes and visit its main landmarks.
Phare de Chassiron - This still functioning lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in the region, dating back to the 1830s. It features Crazannes stones and Vendée granite, and an unusual style of staircase with no less than 224 steps. The lighthouse is 150 feet high, affording splendid views of the island and ocean from the top. It is open to visitors all year.
Moulin des Loges - Moulin des Loges is a traditional flour windmill in Saint-Just-Luzac. It is possible to hire a guide and discover more about the process of milling, the history of the nearby salt pans and the fishing ditches. The site is open to the public from mid-June to the end of August each year.
Musée de Île d’ Oléron - This interactive museum highlights the ethnographic and cultural history of the island. It is located in a large 18th century building in Place Gambetta in Saint-Pierre d’Oléron, just a few miles up the road from Saint-Georges. It was opened in 1996. The museum is open all year.