After being lucky enough to live in the Charente for almost 5 years, this area ranks among my favourite in France.
It lacks the pretention of the south of France and the haughtiness of the Cote d’Azur. Instead you discover a quietly charming region that is stacked full of great places to discover and offers a choice of great French holiday accommodation from gites to modern holiday cottages to holiday parks, perfect for the family.
The Poitou-Charente is located in western France, south of Nantes to the north of Bordeaux and the coastal area of this region is the sunniest part of France outside the Mediterranean coastal areas.
Inland you’ll come across the extensive vineyards that provide the grapes that are used in the production of Cognac and the famous local apéritif wine Pineau des Charentes. Head to the coast, the Charente Maritime, and you’ll discover the amazing sandy Atlantic beaches.
Top 5 beaches in the Charente
1. La Palmyre
With sheltered beaches and coves, the beach resort of La Palmyre is ideal for families. The water is shallow and calm and there is plenty of free car parking nearby. Perfect for all the beach paraphernalia you need for large families! Also it’s not far to walk back into the beach resort where you’ll find shops, restaurants etc.
2. Côte Sauvage
If you prefer catching the waves then head further round the coast near the lighthouse (Phare de Coubre) for excellent surfing. There’s also a good bay here for windsurfing and older children will love trying out body boarding. Parking again is generally free and stretches along a long stretch of the coast, but be prepared for a walk through the pine forests to get to the beach itself. The path opens up to colossal coastal dunes, then flat sand on beaches many consider the most beautiful in France.
3. St Palais sur Mer – Plage du Bureau
The town of St Palais has a long history of being a beach resort, often frequented by the Royals. A sheltered crescent in the heart of the resort, this beach is ideal for families with children. There are eye-catching villas at either end and the shops, cafés and restaurants behind. Here, there is entertainment in the evening including a merry-go-round and puppet theatre. The beach also has a children’s club. There’s also a lifeguard and first aid station in the main summer period.
4. Île de Ré
Often referred to as the ‘jewel on the Atlantic Coast’ this famous “White Island,” is an oasis of long winding bike trails, flawless beaches and charmingly rustic villages. It’s accessible via a road bridge but our advice is to dump the motor and get around by bike. This particular spot does get very busy during the peak holiday period, so we would recommend a May, June or September visit to avoid the crowds.
5. Plage du Galon D’or
This beach near Ronce Les Bans is framed by lovely palm trees and lovely golden sand. It’s an easy beach to walk to from the seaside town, parking nearby perhaps a bit trickier. You can travel further down the coast but be warned that there is a popular nude sunbathing beach running south for a few kilometres from Pointe Espagnole.
Try the Logos la Cabane – three wonderful family friendly gites between Cognac and the sea. Huge gardens and meadow, beautiful sparkling heated pool, bikes and lots of toys. Find out more about La Cabane here.
Fancy a holiday park? Try Siblu Villages, they have three fabulous parks in this area which we can highly recommend (after working there for a while!). Find out more about siblu.
Or take a look at our range of gites and holiday cottages in the Charente.
Anyone have a favourite beach in the Charente they can recommend?