We're on our third visit in two years to Ile D'Oleron, and our eight nights will be our longest stay.
We spent a fortnight in France only five weeks ago and Oleron were our first few nights. We had two other bases further south to split up the holiday and see new places.
But every so often it's nice to return somewhere you know you like and just chill out. Our campsite, Camping Indigo les Chenes Verts, is a two minute walk from the beach and literally the only tourist accommodation in its immediate locality. So there are miles of beach you can get to without effort, and it's quiet.
Oleron is France's second largest island after Corsica. It's around an eight-hour drive from Calais, and connected by bridge to the mainland. For an island holiday it doesn't get much more convenient.
We arrived during the last weekend in August. The queue of traffic crossing the bridge in the opposite direction was a clear sign French holiday season was coming to an end.
At 2pm on the Saturday we were the first in the queue when the campsite reception opened its doors. We'd arrived an hour early and took the opportunity to scout around to see if any pitches appealed. We ordered coffee from the bar and I also found time for a shower, not having had any facilities on our aire the evening before.
As we're used to, they had pre-allocated a pitch but we're happy to change it when asked, to exactly the same pitch we'd had five weeks earlier.
Cleopatra settled under the pine trees, we enjoyed our first of four afternoons on the beach nearby. The second morning started cloudy and we took the opportunity to cycle and top up the fridge with food.
After tiring of so much sun, on the fifth day we headed first towards St Pierre for a mooch around the shops, and then continued across the island to its east coast. Parking the bikes before a long sandy path, we carried on, on foot to reach the beach just north of Port Boyard, a military prison built between the islands of Oleron and Aix in 1801 under Napoleon.
The beach here is stunning, arcing around as it heads north, backed by pine trees as far as the eye can see.
I'm writing this blog entry from my beach towel as we have a few hours rest. After that the plan is to fetch the bikes and get closer to Fort Boyard, and maybe return here tomorrow and cycle in the opposite direction.
It maybe our third time on the island, but there's still much to explore and I wouldn't tire of seeing any of it again and again.