The Charentes region, France's second most popular tourist destination, is both a place steeped in history, with a soothing hinterland and an Atlantic coastline offering some of the most beautiful beaches in France.
The richness of the heritage with its castles, forts, towns, Roman buildings, Romanesque churches (over 600), the diversity of places and emblematic events with the islands of the Charente channels, La Rochelle, Rochefort, Saintes, Cognac, etc. means that you have to make a choice, it is impossible to see everything!
So naturally the location will depend on the holiday you want and there is no single answer to this question.
If you are looking for the peace and quiet of the countryside whilst being able to visit some historical or emblematic places, there are many possibilities in the Charentes close to your chosen locations and away from the towns and at least 10 km from the coast. The advantage is obviously the peace and quiet and the budget compared to a stay on the coast.
If you're looking for a beach holiday, lazing around and ocean, a stay on one of the islands will be appropriate.
Indeed, even if the islands are well connected to the mainland by a bridge for Ré and Oléron, and a ferry for the island of Aix, the time needed to reach the mainland will not be negligible. The risk of traffic jams is high in the summer season, making the return trips to the islands of Oléron and Ré more difficult. Each of these islands will seduce you:
"Re the white oneThe Charente Maritime is a wild area with salt marshes, huts and oyster beds, which has preserved its breathtaking landscapes and the beauty of its typical villages, while becoming a mecca for summer tourism, and even for socialites, in the Charente Maritime.
"Oleron the luminous, the wildOleron is the largest island in France after Corsica, with a length of 30km. Oléron is a magnificent, raw, wild nature. You will discover with its large and magnificent beaches, its dunes, its forests, its immense expanses of oyster farms a pastel osmosis of the sky and the water. Its typical villages and its multicoloured oyster huts are set in these breathtaking landscapes.
"Aix La perle dans son écrinThis is the only way to visit the island, either on foot or by bike. On this small piece of land (2.5km long and 600m wide) you will discover its village nestled in the shelter of the fortifications, a typically Atlantic wild coastline facing the open sea and Fort Boyard, oyster farming landscapes facing Fouras and a coastline with a Mediterranean feel facing La Rochelle / Châtelaillon. Very touristic in July and August, it regains all its natural charm and its quietness favourable to wildlife from September.
If you are looking for a balanced mix of beach, leisure, party and cultural holidays, a coastal holiday is the most appropriate. The location of this ideal holiday will depend on your preferences for beaches, activities and ease of access to the places you wish to visit.
The most famous seaside resorts:
La Rochelle, city on the beach or beach in the city, there is always something going on! City, gateway to the ocean, best known for its architecture (old port, old town), its aquariumThe city has a lot to offer, from its museums and festive entertainment to its 2 beaches, one near the old port and the other near the marina.
Châtelaillon-Plage, This seaside resort was created at the end of the 19th century a few kilometres south of La Rochelle. Its period seaside villas, with their old-fashioned charm, stretch along the large sandy beach for 3km. Ideal for lovers of a large sandy beach close to La Rochelle, a lively town in summer, well situated for visiting the Charentes.
Fouras, On the green peninsula, the fishermen's village began its transformation into a seaside resort in 1860 with the arrival of the railway. At the same time balcony on the islands, where one embarks to go on the island of Aix, to make the turn of Fort Boyard and seaside resort of charm with its beautiful bourgeois villas of time. Nowadays more known through the TV show "Fort Boyard", it was from 1890 a mecca of seaside tourism with its beaches and its casino. Staying in Fouras is both staying on an island and on the coast. A family seaside resort with 5 gently sloping beaches and a large seawater reservoir allowing bathing at any time of the day, it is ideally situated for visiting the region.
Ronce-les-BainsLa Tremblade, created in 1860, in a large massif of dunes, is the seaside resort of La Tremblade. It has a lot of charm with its beautiful villas and chalets of different styles. The beach of La Cèpe in Ronce-les-Bains is situated on the edge of the Coubre forest. A little far from the main traffic routes, well situated for visiting the south of the Charente Maritime, the Saintonge and the island of Oléron.
La Palmyre Les Mathes, La Palmyre is well known for its Zoo, large sandy beaches bordered by maritime pine forests. The Coubre lighthouse is only a few kilometres away, and there are good cycle paths. It is also well situated for visiting the south of the Charente Maritime, the Saintonge and the Ile d'Oléron.
Royan, elegant with its beautiful houses oscillating between belle époque and 50's, is also known for its festival "A violin on the sand which year after year makes all holidaymakers love classical music. Royan also has some lovely little beaches nearby.
Saint Georges de DidonneThe seaside resort offers you its beautiful and large sandy beach of 3km. Ideal location for visiting the south of the Charente Maritime, the Saintonge and part of the Blayais vineyards, or the Médoc and its prestigious châteaux by taking the ferry.
Whatever you choose, it will be the right one! We wish you a great holiday!