Discover the Atlantic coast’s beaches. From ile de Re to the Basque Coast, this is a kingdom of water sports, cycling trails and lively seaside resorts.
With 250 kilometres of fine sand and sun, Europe’s largest beach is located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine!
The Atlantic Ocean goes on for miles! Dunes, great lakes and the Landes forest are also part of the backdrop. The Atlantic coast means preserved nature. It is an ideal spot for all types of water sports: surfing, kite surfing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, sand yachting ...
Sailors have been using Cordouan lighthouse or « the Kings’ lighthouse » to locate the entrance to Gironde’s estuary since 1584. This historical monument is 68 metres high. Visitors can tour it after taking a boat ride.
Lively Biscarrosse, also known as « Bisca », is a seaside resort with two coastlines: a lake shore and an ocean shore. The city is a seaplane capital, worth visiting at any time of the year.
Fort Boyard is an emblematic landmark on the Charente coastine. It became famous in the 1990s thanks to the game show, set and filmed in the real fortress. Fort Boyard is located between ile d’Aix and ile d’Oleron. It was built to protect Rochefort’s arsenal and the Charente estuary, in addition to ile d’Aix and ile d’Oleron’s canons.
Unfortunately, artillery progressed so fast that the fort became obsolete ! Pillagers looted the fort in its darkest days, but now, many years later, it has become a TV star, thanks to the game show! The fort is not open to visitors but you can take a boat ride and approach “the stone vessel" (as it is commonly referred to) up close.
There are regular departures from Ile de Re (La Flotte, Saint-Martin-de-Re), from Ile d’Oleron (Boyardville, Saint-Denis-d'Oleron) and from the continent (Bourcefranc-le-Chapus, Fouras-les-Bains and La Rochelle).
Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron: two gems on the Atlantic coast! Both offer visitors a preserved environment, remarkable historical and architectural heritage, lively seaside resorts, huge sandy beaches, a large range of sports and water activities, picturesque ports and famous local food products. Both islands are easy to access : the first has a bridge, the second, a viaduct. However, these two main islands are not Charente’s only islands ! Ile d'Aix and ile Madame are well worth a visit !
Just a few minutes from La Rochelle, Re « the white » - famous for its Alcea Rosea flowers, its low houses with green or blue shutters – owes its success to its wonderful "art de vivre". Bicycles are a must here, if you wish to explore the island. Lovely cycling paths enable visitors to discover our ten charming villages, pine tree forests, salt marshes…
As for activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy ! (Supervised) swimming, sailing, jet skiing, surfing, kite-surfing, fishing, boat rides, horse-riding and so much more! A perfect family holiday destination!
Further information about Ile de Re
Welcome to Ile d’Oleron, France’s largest Atlantic island ! Its wilderness contributes to its charm, and it is a family and child-friendly destination.
You’ll enjoy our 15 friendly villages and our gigantic sandy beaches ! Ile d’Oleron is a paradise for fans of sports, water-sports and adventures ! Nature fans will be delighted by our maritime pine and evergreen-oak forests and humid zones where many bird species live. For unforgettable holidays!
There is nothing quite like Marennes-Oleron oysters ! If you are a seafood fan, you have already heard of these fantastic oysters, no doubt! "Marennes-Oleron" are the only French oysters with a “Label Rouge” excellence label. Marennes-Oleron is Europe’s largest oyster farm, with up to sixty thousand tons of oysters produced each year! You simply must try them! Oysters are excellent for your health: they contain proteins, minerals and vitamins!
Further information about Ile d’Oleron
ILE D'AIX, "THE AUTHENTIC ISLAND"
Ile d’Aix is only accessible by boat. It is located less than one nautical mile from the inland. It is a small, Mediterranean-style island : perfect, for a change of scenery !
Picture this : the lovely smell of pine forests, gorgeous coves with sandy beaches, fortifications by Vauban to watch over you… and the shadow of Napoleon still lingering, years and years after he stayed here! There is nothing like a stay on this gem of an island, even if it’s just for a few days.
Forget cars and traffic, you won’t find very many here ! Enjoy a nice stroll, a bike ride, or even a horse-drawn carriage ride, in summer. The icing on the cake ? A boat ride to get a good look at the famous Fort Boyard !
Further information about Ile d’Aix
Ile Madame is Charente-Maritime’s smallest island ! An original outing, since you can only access it using a natural sand and pebble path called « la passe aux boeufs » (“the cattle path”), when the tide is low.
Madame island is a nature haven. Its coves and the panoramas of Charente estuary and Fouras peninsula are breathtaking. Do not miss the aquaculture museum in the centre of the island.
Further information about Ile Madame
King Louis the 14th had Rochefort turned into a maritime arsenal town. He asked Colbert to build « the most beautiful and largest Arsenal in the Western World ».
Nowadays, Rochefort is still turned towards the ocean, namely thanks to the adventures of the Hermione frigate. The Hermione became famous thanks to La Fayette in the 18th century, during the American Independence era. The frigate was rebuilt here, under the very eyes of the public. Do not miss : guided tours of the Hermione in its homeport.
Further information about Rochefort
From Coco Chanel to Pablo Picasso, in the Roaring Twenties, everyone who was anyone could be spotted holidaying in Royan. The seaside resort gave sea holidays their fame back in the early 19th century.
The town’s « folies » (lovely seaside villas) and its blue and white striped tents were immortalized in many artists’ paintings. The peaceful image of this seaside resort was not completely erased by World War II. Today, Royan is a bold 50s style architectural ensemble, dominated by the arrow atop Notre-Dame church and the beautiful boulevard Garnier, before the long sandy beach that made the resort so popular. Royan has a « Town of Art and History » label.
Further information about Royan
Seaside resorts for the entire family, swimming and fishing in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, on Arvert peninsula, north of Royan, sandy beaches in Vaux-sur-Mer, forest and seaside activities in Ronce-les-Bains La Tremblade (with lots of space and naturist beaches, for holidays « in the sun » !)... You’ll enjoy Mathes-La Palmyre resort’s many beaches and its zoo (Zoo de La Palmyre) is a must ! Further south, in the Gironde estuary, Saint-Georges-de-Didonne is the sand yacht capital, and has so many water activities for visitors. Not to mention Meschers and its fine sandy beaches and cliffs, with many caves to explore !
Between Royan and Bordeaux, explore one of the very last great natural estuaries in Europe ! Do not miss: Talmont-sur-Gironde, one of « France’s most beautiful villages », the troglodyte cave homes in Meschers, the Blaye citadel and Vauban's defensive lock and the port of Bourg. On the left bank, Medoc vineyards with evocative names: Pauillac, Margaux, Saint-Estephe... not to mention the estuary's lovely “carrelets” (fishermen’s cabins).
Our biggest star however, is caviar! It is a caviar that few people had heard of, and yet, it is very popular amongst specialists. The Gironde estuary is one of the last places in Europe where sturgeons are bred! Caviar « made in France »… Oops ! Caviar « Made in Nouvelle-Aquitaine »!
Further information about Atlantic Medoc
There are kilometres of protected cycling paths all along the coastline, for all types and levels of cyclists.
The renowned « Vélodyssée » goes all the way from Brittany to the Basque country.
The Landes forest is also Europe’s largest forest, with over de 10.000 square kilometres. Pine trees here used to be tapped. Nowadays, visitors come to take a walk, to cycle and to go horse-riding.