Same island - new campsite
This was our fourth trip to Ile d'Oleron in three years. On the previous occasions we've stayed at Huttopia Chenes Verts and we'd have liked to have stayed there this time but unfortunately the site wasn't yet open for the season. Huttopia Les Pins is at the southern tip of the island and had been open just a few days prior to our arrival.
When we entered reception you could have been forgiven for thinking that the staff had only started on site that day. A hand written sign displayed the reception opening hours and there was just a desk empty of everything but a computer. Two ladies seemed surprised to see us, though they had a pitch tag for us. Outside the entry and exit barriers were undergoing maintenance. We drove in the out barrier to avoid the staff car in the entrance and set off around site to pick a pitch. Only one other pitch was occupied. A Dutch couple were camping in a tent-like contraption atop a Land Rover. We liked the look of a spot two pitches down from them, but it seemed strange to pitch so close to someone else when the whole site was unoccupied.
During our five-night stay about four or five pitches became occupied and on our last evening some of the safari tents welcomed visitors too. Also during our stay the other Huttopia site on the island opened for business. I'd recommend either site, but Chenes Verts will always be our preferred choice. It has no pool, but it's right on the beach and in an otherwise untouristy area.
On days two and three we spent full days sunbathing on the beach. We were sad to find that the pebble walls people had built and that we used to sit behind had washed away, but over the course of a couple of days we rebuilt one. The sea was warm enough to swim in despite it still being May, and a few other people were enjoying the beach with us.
Rain was forecast on our last full day and so it was to be a full day of cycling. Le Chateau d'Oleron was our destination but we took the opportunity to cycle via Saint-Trojan-Les-Bains on our way. It turned out to be a lovely little town, the hand painted signs for hotels and restaurants one of its quirky highlights. And a handsome little cat who came bounding over to see us for some fuss! The visit saw us tick off the last of Oleron's larger towns we'd not visited.
One of Oleron's best features, aside from its never-ending beaches, are the cycle paths that criss-cross the island. Wherever you are, and wherever you want to go, you can be almost certain a cycle path or two will get you there. They're not always the most direct route as they zigzag across the countryside, but they keep you off the roads. However, many of the paths are chalk and when it rains it makes a mess of your clothes. I could see the state Tony's back was getting in and hoped my new shirt bought the previous day wasn't getting ruined beneath my cagoule.
While on the subject of cycling, I learned that moron is almost the same in French as in English when another cyclist used the word to describe Tony. We were coming up to a blind corner and I ran my bell twice as a warning in case anyone was coming the other way. Unfortunately the reason for me ringing my bell was lost on Tony and rather than approach the corner with more care, he turned around to look at me, almost crashing head on into a French cyclist who was spot on with his name calling.
A video montage of our visit can be viewed below or on YouTube