The bays along the Charente coast feature a succession of seaside resorts with their own distinctive character, from family-oriented to retro-chic.
Grab your swimsuit, sun cream, hat and beach towel to reserve yourself a place on one of the beaches of the Charente-Maritime. Enjoy a lazy dip, pit yourself against the power of the ocean and breathe in that glorious sea air!
A city with a beach or a beach with a city?
La Rochelle on the Atlantic Coast has two sandy beaches which can be enjoyed by visitors – the plage des Minimes near the marina and the plage de la Concurrence, adjoining the Old Harbour.
Just a few miles away are all the attractions of the late 19th century resort of Châtelaillon-Plage. The town is known for its well-preserved town houses with their characteristic blue and yellow shutters and ‘génoise’ corbels under the eaves, imbuing it with an old-world charm.
The sea-front offers glorious views of the ocean and a sandy beach that extends for over 2 miles. It’s a perfect beach for family holidays and it’s also an accredited Handiplage beach (accessible for disabled people), with amphibious tiralo wheelchairs available in high season.
During the springtime this beach also becomes the stage for the Kite and Wind festival. This features colourful airborne displays, feats of acrobatics performed by the French Air Force’s stunt flying team and experts in board sports showing off their skills at sea (and on land, in the shape of mountainboarding and land sailing). Wherever you look, on land, sea or in the air, there’s something spectacular to see.
Head to Fouras-les-Bains and the pointe de la Fumée – it’s the perfect jumping off point for a trip to Fort-Boyard and the island of Aix.
There are multiple beaches here, but our particular favourite is the Grande Plage, where an outdoor pool with a retaining wall makes it possible to swim at any time of the day – even when the tide is out.
Established in 1860 in an area of impressively high sand dunes, Ronce-les-Bains is La Tremblade’s seaside resort. It’s a tremendously appealing place, with villas and chalets in a range of architectural styles – Gothic, Basque and Anglo-Norman.
We would thoroughly recommend the plage du Galon d’or beach, right on the edge of the forêt de la Coubre forest. This pretty beach backed by dunes is great for families and boasts unbeatable views of the Île d’Oléron.
On the edge of the ‘Wild Coast’
Further south, la Palmyre-Les Mathes is a must-see resort for many reasons:
– Its famous Zoo de La Palmyre, home to almost 1,600 animals.
– The amazing beaches and coastal scenery of the baie de la Bonne Anse.
Residential properties in the area are low-rise and discreetly blend into the countryside. The beaches, meanwhile, are bordered with maritime pines.
Just a short cycle ride away is the ‘Wild Coast’ and the phare de la Coubre lighthouse – stunning views guaranteed! It’s no surprise that there’s a Club Med resort here – complete with chalets inspired by the local oyster shacks.
The entrance to the estuary
In Royan, style is everything, whether it’s that Belle Époque vibe or a more 1950s look. This elegant seaside town watches over the mouth of the Gironde estuary. It boasts a wide bay (‘la Grande Conche’) at the heart of the city, with a delightful beach dotted with characteristic blue and white-striped tents. There are also smaller beaches like the plage du Chay, the plage du Pigeonnier and the plage de Pontaillac.
Located opposite the Médoc peninsula, Saint-Georges-de-Didonne also features plenty of Belle Époque architecture. You’ll be sure to love its large sandy beach (all 3 km of it) bordered by pine and holm oak forests which turn this resort into a real paradise for kids, not to mention the thrill-seekers who can enjoy sand yachting, speedsailing and catamaran sailing.
Focus on Famille + resorts
In Charentes, there are plenty of really family-friendly resorts and beaches, no matter the size of your clan or the kind of holidays you enjoy! Charentes-based resorts such as Royan, Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, Rivedoux-Plage and Saint-Martin-de-Ré are all ‘Famille +’-accredited resorts, which means that they are especially geared towards catering to the specific needs of families and children.
As a result, the ‘Île d’Oléron-bassin de Marennes’ area is the first such tourist region to have been awarded this prestigious certification.