The port of Les Salines
A cultural project around salt
Created on a disused salt marsh, the Port des Salines is part of a strong will of the island's actors to encourage and support the salt culture: a know-how inseparable from the history of Oleron which has long been one of its main economic activities. The project, born in the 90s, also aimed to protect by its development and its valorization an environment threatened by urbanization. The creation of the Port des Salines was supported for several years by the commune of Grand-Village-Plage and the department of Charente-Maritime.
The rehabilitation work on the site began in 1990. The clay of the marsh is worked under the advice of the sauniers of Guérande in order to give back to the salt marsh its hydraulic functions. At the same time as the marsh was put back into service, a salt cellar, a port, typical coloured huts and an ecomuseum were created on the site.
The inauguration took place in 1994: the saunier of the Port des Salines produced its first tons of salt and the first visitors discovered the site. Two years later, an interpretation trail was created to allow tourists to walk through the marsh and observe its biodiversity.
The collections of the ecomuseum were lost during a fire in 1999. The site will benefit from precious donations and loans, in particular from the Corderie Royale de Rochefort, which will allow it to continue its vocation of raising awareness of the history of saliculture.
Visits and animations at the Port des Salines
The profession of saunier can be discovered in many ways at the Port des Salines. The ecomuseum occupies several huts along the marshes: there are exhibitions adapted to a large public of adults and children. The guided tour then leads to the heart of the marsh and its various basins in order to understand how it works. It is also an opportunity to see the saunier in action and to taste the salt at different stages of its culture.
From the quay that borders the string of colorful huts, you can also take a boat trip: a relaxing, fun and instructive moment that allows you to discover yet another facet of the marsh. By boat, the fauna and flora of the site can be observed gently and from the best viewpoints. Finally, a pedestrian trail has been set up in the Port des Salines: the path is lined with explanatory panels and observation points. A must-see visit on the Ile d'Oléron!
The Port des Salines transmits the Oleronese culture and the know how to make sauniers through numerous activities for young and old. In the summer, the saunier invites visitors to learn by themselves the gestures of the trade. During the school vacations, workshops specifically designed for children are organized. Among the other events and original animations to be experienced on the site, you can take a boat trip for an aperitif, go on a treasure hunt in a team or visit and taste local products.
The Port des Salines is located less than 5 km from the camping Le Fief Melin on the Ile d'Oléron, in the commune of Grand-Village-Plage. It opens its doors to the public from March to November. In July and August, the site is open from 10 am to 7 pm without interruption from Monday to Saturday and on Sunday afternoons. During the other months of activity of the site, it is possible to take advantage of the eco-museum and boat rides on Wednesdays all day long, Sunday afternoons and mornings and afternoons of other days with a meridian closure. guided tours are offered at various times from March to October and at fixed times in July and August: 10:30 and 11:30 in the morning (except Sunday), 14:00, 15:30 and 17:00 in the afternoon.
The free visit of the ecomuseum, with free access to the interpretation path, is at the price of 4.50 € full rate and 3.00 € reduced rate (6 to 18 years old, students, groups, job seekers, PMR).
The commented visit of the salt marsh is at the same price. A combined ticket for a guided tour + ecomuseum is offered at the price of 7.00 € full price and 3.50 € reduced price.
For animations, the prices are :
- The appointment with the saunier are 9.50 € and 5.50 €
- The pedagogical workshops at 5.50 € per child
- The aperitif boat at 12 € per person
- The treasure hunt at 18 € for a team of 2 to 5 people
- The visit-tasting visit at 16 € per person
- The boat rental is proposed at 16 € for a boat that can accommodate up to 4 passengers.