France

The Passion
18th & 19th Century
•• Coste
Belle Epoque
20th Century
Normandy
North-Brittany
South-Brittany
West-Central
Marennes-Oléron
••L'Affinage
••Green
••Claires
Arcachon
••Naissains
••Captage
Mediterranean

French Terms


Oysters of the French Atlantic Central Region
John McCabe

This French oyster cultivation region south of Brittany starts around the estuary of the Loire River, across the bay region of Bourgneuf (L'Estuaire du Payré, Veillon, Guittière, Pornic, Le Talmondais), the Isle of Re ("Ile de Ré"), the entire coastal stretch between La Rochelle and Fouras, all the way down to just North of the estuary of the Charente River.

The outlined area is famous for its excellent oysters, particularly their so called "Fines de Claires" and "Spéciales de Claires". These terms refer to oysters (usually Pacific oysters), which have gained a certain level of refinement. Oysters are moved from the cultivation parks right by the sea to special basins. These special cultivation basins are called "claires". Selected oysters spend time in these basins, only a few oysters per square meter, hence fattening nicely in a rather non-competitive environment. Life down by the sea can be rough for the oysters. They might also collect some impurities such as sand or mud. Here, in these claires, they are at ease, cleansing themselves of any impurities and merrily feasting on nutritious plankton.

There are many small oyster growers in this region. Cumulatively, however, they produce an enormous amount of oysters - approximately 15 - 20,000 metric tons per year. Approximately 70 - 80% of the oysters are purchased locally for private consumption, by restaurants, as well as local markets.

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