Craving oysters in the middle of the night? This machine can help you

Two oyster farmers on the île de Ré, off France's western coast, came up with the idea in spring this year and it's currently in full swing.

Brigitte and Tony Berthelot had been running an oyster farm on the island since 1987 when they wondered if there was a better way of catering to their customers' cravings. They said they understood "customers' disappointment at deadlines or closing times which don't suit them".

Now hungry islanders can go to the vending machine and order their oysters, in batches of twelve, at any time of the day or night.

The stock is renewed every day and the oysters sold closed to avoid any health risk. Prices are the same as in the couple's adjoining shop, starting at €6.90 for a dozen.

It's even possible to order one's oysters in advance; in that case, the customer receives a code via SMS which allows them to retrieve their order. Using this option, shoppers have access to an extended menu, with additional products including sea asparagus and pâté.

Earlier this year, the first 24-hour meat vending machine was opened in Paris, while baguette vending machines are a fairly common sight in cities and towns, and farms often sell wares such as cheese and eggs from automatic machines.

Though the idea of an oyster vending machine seems something of a novelty, it's actually the second of its kind in the country. A first was installed on Oléron, France's second largest island, in 2010.