Our favourite – St Palais-sur-Mer
Description: This delightful little resort has some lovely bays with the headlands creating a beautiful backdrop to the mouth of the Gironde estuary. The sea is safer here than on the Atlantic facing resorts further to the north west.
Location: North west of Royan on the D25. You will find some small car parks on side roads off the D25 on the side away from the sea. Be careful crossing this busy road on the way to the beach.
Our recommendations: Arrive early to find a parking place not too far from the beach.
For the children: For bucket and spade holidays they may prefer St Georges-de-Didonne to the south or la Plage de la Palmyre to the north. Take a trip to the nearby La Palmyre Zoo to the north of Royan.
St Georges-de-Didonne – perfect for a bucket and spade trip to the sea side.
Description: Pleasantly situated on the Gironde estuary, St Georges-de-Didonne will appeal to the younger family looking for a bucket and spade beach. The water itself is not very clear because it is on an estuary but the wide expanse of clean sand is perfect for digging sand castles. Usually you will find the beach relatively quiet compared to others in the vicinity.
Location: On the D25, just south east of Royan.
General Info: The official tourist office website is well worth a visit to see the flash animation, although it wasn’t working reliably last time we looked!
Our recommendations: We had a great time on an 8 seater bicycle rented from Cyclo Jet (you can find them at the point where the Avenue Mocqueris reaches the main sea front road). They have many variations available, but as we had 8 in our party we were delighted to find that we could all pedal around the St Georges-de-Didonne roads for an hour for the princely sum of 25 Euros in total. 6 people pedal…the lucky two at the rear (in our case this was nanny and grandad) just enjoy the view!
There is a small version of one of the increasingly ubiquitous tree top assault courses at the south end of the St Georges-de-Didonne esplanade This is great fun for teenagers.
If you’re staying in the area, you will enjoy a a trip to the nearby La Palmyre Zoo which is located to the north of Royan.
For the children: Ideal for younger children if they are happy pottering around on the sand.
Beaches south of St Georges-de –Didonne
Just south of St Georges-de-Didonne on D25 are a series of named beaches which are small and wonderfully sheltered, with a backdrop of pine trees. Moving from north to south these are Plage de Suzac, Plage de l’Arnèche, Plage des Vergnes and Plage des Nonnes (nearest to Meschers –sur-Gironde). Of these, our personal favourite is La Plage de Suzac. There is parking next to a café/restaurant on the seaward side of the road, but we imagine this fills up quickly in the summer months. Alternatively there is parking along the road. Shelter is available at the right time of day under the rocky headland which creates a huge natural umbrella!
Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to the Charente Maritime: