Where do Amélie oysters come from? While you may have enjoyed a plate of fresh oysters at your favorite seafood restaurant, have you ever wondered where they come from and the hard work that goes into cultivating them? In this article, we’ll take a journey to Marennes-Oléron region, in France. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of oyster farming, guided by a three-generation farmer who has dedicated their life to this craft.
The Marennes-Oléron region (France), is the cradle of oysters since roman times. The great families of the empire brought them in at great expense for their banquets.
Like wine, oysters take on unique properties depending on the environment they’re grown in – their own unique “merroir”. Amélie has its own exclusive “merroir”.
Economic activity has always been oriented towards the sea. Formerly the inhabitants were salt workers and fishermen, today they are sailors and oyster farmers.
Pointe du Chapus has a port used by oyster farmers and a small fleet of trawlers.
The old SNCF station (restored in 2004) testifies to the importance of the oyster farming and tourist traffic that it experienced until 1970 with the Paris Austerlitz-Le Chapus line. A second station existed in the center of the town as the quantity of oysters to be shipped was large, especially during the end of year celebrations. Today, trucks are replacing the train via the seafood product transit platform inaugurated in 2003.
Bourcefranc-Le Chapus is the leading oyster port in the Marennes-Oléron basin, by the number of registered maritime oyster farmers. This is why the town has a renowned establishment, the Lycée Aquacole de la Mer et du Littoral, where its students can prepare the traditional baccalaureates but above all the certificates of technicians related to maritime activities.
In the past, the port of Chapus was used by boats which transported passengers and goods (wine, oysters, salt) between Oléron and the mainland, before the installation of ferries (1946-47) replaced by the viaduct in 1966.
The port of Bourcefranc-Le Chapus is today the leading oyster port in the Marennes-Oléron basin. It is one of the very first oyster ports in France with numerous unloading slipways and professional launches.
Since 2017, it has had a fairing area.
Due to its privileged geographical location, in the heart of the Marennes-Oléron basin, professionals from neighboring towns come to park in the port of Chapus and others would like to be able to come there.
It is also a starting point for excursions to Fort Boyard and the Île d’Aix and for the Bateau-Passeur which makes the round trip between Bourcefranc-Le Chapus and Le Château d’Oléron in July and August.
The Site de Daire is located in the North-West of the Commune. It is a site, which formerly was occupied in its middle by agricultural land, which allowed oyster farmers who had their cabin on the sea side, to exploit plots of vines (narrow plots and all in length).
Before oyster farming really took off, many families in Bourcefranc owned and farmed farmland. Viticulture was highly developed throughout the Commune. This allowed a sharing of activities and thus to be able to employ staff, all year round, according to the seasons. At the end of the 19th century, “phylloxera” ravaged the local vineyard, then oyster farming took over these agricultural activities.
You can walk there on foot or by bike to go around it from the Pointe des Chardons. Following the tides, watch the oyster farmers work in their concessions, while admiring the coasts of the island of Oléron.