Only 4 kms from the Domaine de Rochebonne, is the pretty town of Marennes with its large beach and its adorable little port.  Marennes is often called “the capital of the oyster” and is well known for its seafood.

It is to Marennes that you will go to the supermarket (Inter and Leclerc), the bank and a collection of shops and restaurants.

During the Roman occupation, flat oyster beds were found in abundance on this coast. The Romans, masters in the art of fattening oysters, introduced their farming method on the shores of the Seudre estuary and on the island of Oleron. Some Gallo-Roman oyster beds are still in operation to this day. In fact, the exploitation of oysters was a small regional activity at that time and would not become a real economic activity before the Middle Ages.

With the departure of the Romans (500 AD), then the onset of the Dark Ages, Marennes was forgotten, and its history of that period is largely unknown. The few inhabitants lived around the church; the area was very primitive apart from the Roman road where traffic was insignificant.

It was only in the 11th century that, due to the growth of monasteries, Marennes began to revive.

Until then, the town was called St Pierre des Salines, but around 1040 was renamed Marennes – a mixture of “mar” (sea) and marsh. Abandoned for a long time, all the lands and forests around became the property of the monastery of l’Abbaye-aux-Dames in Saintes.

The coast thenceforth benefited from development, particularly in the salt trade which provided considerable wealth to tenants – who, in this case, were the monks of Abbey-aux-Dames then, later, to the lords of Marennes. New salt ports were created.

Finally, some land was conceded by the Abbaye-aux-Dames to the people who lived in villages built  along the old Roman road like La Boirie, La Chaînade or Bourcefranc . All these villages were built with narrow alleys and low houses as on the other islands and lands of the Charentais straits.

By 1242, much of the lands of Marennes now belonged to the Sires of Pons, but under the crown of England. Marennes became the seat of a seigneurial high justice and a bailiwick whose limits extended to Brouage and Soubise, St Just-Luzac and more.

These powerful lords also had a sense of business and commerce and made Marennes the salt granary of the Saintonge. They established a salt port at the end of the Seudre, the Chenal de La Cayenne, so-named from the medieval word for a small dry-stone cabin.  Today the word cayenne is, of course, a pepper and bears no relation.

The monasteries of Saintes and the lords of Pons who shared the parish of Marennes also worked the land – cereals, mainly wheat. Many mills were built.

By the time of the Hundred Years War, 1337, Marennes was an active town, but this prosperity was soon to end with a century of war and devastation.

Only 4 kms from the Domaine de Rochebonne, is the pretty town of Marennes with its large beach and its adorable little port.  Marennes is often called “the capital of the oyster” and is well known for its seafood.

It is to Marennes that you will go to the supermarket (Inter and Leclerc), the bank and a collection of shops and restaurants.

During the Roman occupation, flat oyster beds were found in abundance on this coast. The Romans, masters in the art of fattening oysters, introduced their farming method on the shores of the Seudre estuary and on the island of Oleron. Some Gallo-Roman oyster beds are still in operation to this day. In fact, the exploitation of oysters was a small regional activity at that time and would not become a real economic activity before the Middle Ages.

With the departure of the Romans (500 AD), then the onset of the Dark Ages, Marennes was forgotten, and its history of that period is largely unknown. The few inhabitants lived around the church; the area was very primitive apart from the Roman road where traffic was insignificant.

It was only in the 11th century that, due to the growth of monasteries, Marennes began to revive.