La Cotinière, a stroll in the great outdoors in the 1st Charentais fishing port

Saint-Pierre-d'Oléron
La Cotinière, a strol ...

Between land and sea, ports have always been places animated by a unique maritime atmosphere. If you like to walk on the quays with your eyes riveted on the ocean, smell the smell of iodine and breathe the fresh sea air, daydream while reading the names of the trawlers and their home port, if you like colors long live the boats, so follow us… you will succumb to the charm of La Cotinière. Nestled in a bay on the west coast of the island of Oléron and sheltered from the prevailing winds, this small traditional fishing port is the first port Charentais and 7th nationally. We make you discover this haven of peace imbued with authenticity!


La Cotinière  La Cotinière

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Behind the scenes of the Cotinière auction

Soles, hake, cuttlefish, rowfish, red mullet, turbot, sea bream, bonito, monkfish, squid, octopus, langoustines... it is 3.30 p.m. at the Cotinière auction, the time for the regular daily sale, at which time is happening. adds a morning sale between 4 and 5 a.m. when there are large inflows of fish, from Monday to Saturday morning inclusive. The fish tanks parade on the conveyor belt of the auction room. Installed on bleachers, a hundred buyers, retailers, wholesalers, local restaurateurs but also from the four corners of France will bid on the lots. In the eyes of a novice, the sale appears more like a trading room than a market hall (visits to the auction are organized by the Tourist Office). To follow, you have to be used to it and know the codes.

What they are looking for above all are noble products because the Cotinière has made quality its specialty, with respectful fishing techniques. All you have to do is admire the superb stalls in the La Victorine market, right on the port, where the stores sell seafood freshly unloaded from the boats from 3.30 p.m. You will find the catch of the day there, often prepared by the fishermen's wives who are happy to share their advice and local recipes. Here, the quality and traceability procedures guarantee freshness and allow the enhancement of seafood on the plate!

The good idea Are you greedy? Read our article on the local products of Charente Maritime, from the sea to the land, including the vines.



La Cotinière
La Cotinière  La Cotinière


In total, more than 5000 tonnes of 95 different species go to auction each year to the delight of fish and seafood lovers. This great diversity of species fished makes the reputation of La Cotinière, made possible by the proximity of the fishing zones and the flexibility of the flotilla made up of about a hundred boats from 9 to 21 meters (about forty trawlers and about fifty multipurpose crabbing vessels). As a result, nearly 250 sailors go to sea from La Cotinière: an important entity of the Oleron community, guarantor of an ancestral heritage.

The good idea Do you like the atmosphere of the ports? Read our article on the most beautiful ports in Charente Maritime.



La Cotinière  La Cotinière

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An unusual place of escape to discover

Fishing has forged, over the centuries, the port identity of La Cotinière. This artisanal port has two faces: one in summer, when the quays are overflowing with visitors who come to taste platters of seafood, savor a good ice cream and smell the sea air to break away from everyday life. The other, more intimate, is revealed only in the off-season when the tourists have left and the life of the port punctuated by the hypnotizing ballet of boats that come and go with the tides.


La Cotinière  La Cotinière
La Cotinière  La Cotinière


It is then a whole fascinating microcosm which is revealed to the eyes of contemplatives! In all seasons, this unusual place plunges visitors into the authenticity of a port atmosphere: the cry of the seagulls, the sound of halyards hitting the masts, the piles of fishing nets on the quays and the crab traps, spiders and lobsters recalling the fishing techniques of yesteryear. Shellfish and crustaceans are not left out either: Marennes d'Oléron oysters naturally, but also whelks, clams, barnacles, clams, periwinkles...

Here, the delicacies of the sea escape no one, and certainly not the gourmets seated in the excellent restaurants of the port, L'Amiral for example, La Sardinerie, L'Assiette du Capitaine or Le Local, an essential table. On the benches facing the port, you can also taste the traditional Merluchon Fish & Chips, served on the go with homemade fries and coveted by gulls. A real treat !

But the village of Cotinière has other surprises in store for visitors to Île d'Oléron. Between April and October, more than 70 shops and restaurants animate the city center (Sunday included) as well as the local farmers market every morning (off season, Monday to Saturday).

The good idea For a stay a few minutes walk from the port of La Cotinière, we recommend the Motel île de Lumière, perfect for family vacations.



La Cotinière  La Cotinière


In July & August, the port of La Cotinière vibrates every evening from 6 p.m.: night market, funfair, street shows. On the shopping side, the notoriety of the Cotinère is well established! Discovering this fishing port is also an opportunity to equip yourself with boots, sailor shirts, marine and seaside decor. Between gastronomy, know-how and local culture: fishing gives all its character to the Cotinière!

Fishing on the island of Oléron, a story full of the nets

Visiting La Cotinière means understanding a large part of the island's past. This port tells with evocative force the history of fishing on the island of Oléron. Formerly, this port was only a natural shelter. A few isolated villagers practiced fishing, but oyster farming and market gardening constituted the bulk of the economic activity.

The good idea If you liked the port of La Cotinière, come with us to discover the port of l'Houmeau, in the Rochelaise agglomeration.


In the 1860s, a new type of fishing was introduced in La Cotinière: sardine fishing became a real success in the Golf de Gascogne. The port then opened up to seasonal fishing by offering sardines, shrimps, lobsters... In 1908, a sardine cannery was set up opposite the thriving port. The flotilla evolves after the two world wars, passing from sail to motor. In 1973, a new basin was created, the port becoming too small to accommodate its flotilla. New developments are made to modernize port facilities: construction of an ice plant, restructuring of the auction, traffic lane marine etc... Today this artisanal fishing continues with a hundred boats that practice trawl, net, line, trap or dredge trades. A cultural heritage to be preserved!


La Cotinière
La Cotinière  La Cotinière


Practical Info

VICTORINE LA COTINIÈRE MARKET

Boulevard du Capitaine Leclerc

Hamlet La Cotinière

17310, Saint-Pierre-d'Oléron


Dates & times

  • Open every day from 01/04 to 31/10 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (every year)
  • Open every day from 01/11 to 31/03 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm except Monday (every year)

Guided tour of the auction in the port of Cotinière: contact the Ile Oléron Marennes tourist office


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Article and photos prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Charente Maritime Guide


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