Seaside resort and swimming in the sea

From the ornate belle-époque residences and 1950s villas to the vibrant decorative panels and listed monuments, this seaside resort on the Côte de Beauté appeals to fans of architecture as well as visitors into swimming and water sports.

The sunny seaside resort of Royan is the most popular vacation destination along the “Côte de Beauté” (Coast of Beauty), which extends from the Gironde Estuary to the Avert Peninsula. Royan’s five sandy beaches draw many sunbathers during summertime.

Other favorite family-friendly destinations on the Côte de Beauté include the wide, sheltered beach at Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, the sandy beaches and campsites at Meschers-sur-Gironde, as well as Saint-Palais-sur-Mer.

Puy-Leonard Royan

Although much of Royan was destroyed during the Second World War, the trendy Pontaillac quarter has retained the charm of a bygone era, seen in its Belle Epoque oceanfront villas and traditional fishing cabins.

Another top tourist attraction is the Sentier des Douaniers coastal path, which affords stunning views of the Phare de Cordouan lighthouse.

Symbols of the post-war reconstruction of the city, Notre-Dame church, the central marketplace and the Palais des Congrès won’t disappoint. Exploring this Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History) also means doing some shopping in the Pontaillac district and relaxing by the water’s edge. Here, a conche is any beach arched between two cliffs.

Pontaillac nestles between fishing huts and rocky ledges, and its stretches of fine sand are home to the Casino de Royan. It’s also very popular with surfers. La Grande Conche is imbued with nostalgic charm, thanks to its stripy tents adapted from the original 19th century huts.

On the coast, Royan Atlantique has family-friendly seaside resorts which offer plenty of opportunities for swimming in the sea, surfing, catamaran sailing, kite surfing, sand yachting and more besides. Take, for example, Ronce-les-Bains.

For families with kids, one of the best places to visit is the Zoo de La Palmyre (about 15 kilometers away from Royan). Tucked away in an 18-hectare pine forest, the zoo is home to 1,600 animals representing 115 different species, from flamingos and hippos to lions and polar bears. Children enjoy the shows featuring entertaining sea lions and parrots.

Things to do in and around Royan

Things to do in and around Royan Relax in the thalassotherapy centre, up your well-being and serenity levels at the spa in Saujon, or get some fresh sea air horse riding in the La Coubre Forest or cycling along the Vélodyssée®.

Things to see in and around Royan Explore the unique landscapes of the estuaries, which slowly reveal little fishing huts sheltered by the cliffs pitted with caves like Meschers-sur-Gironde. From the smallest estuary in Europe (Seudre) to the largest (Gironde), which is guarded by the famous Cordouan lighthouse, come explore what lies between the land and the sea.

You’ll find two villages listed among the country’s Plus Beaux Villages (Most Beautiful Towns and Villages). In Mornac-sur-Seudre, a village with a medieval feel that has embraced oyster farming and salt from the marshes, you can wander the narrow streets lined with shops selling art and crafts.

In Talmont-sur-Gironde, start at Sainte-Radegonde Church and walk the ramparts to really appreciate the breath-taking views!