What to see and do from Les Charmettes
en Charente Maritime
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It’s all about big, sandy beaches on this amazing stretch of the west coast of France and you are certainly spoiled for choice.
Families love to head to the resort of La Palmyre with its sheltered beaches and coves, where little ones can swim safely in the calm bay. Further around the coast, the Côte Sauvage is the surfers’ spot where you can work up an appetite catching the crashing waves. A stroll along St Palais is perfect in the evening sun for a relaxing meal overlooking the sea, rocks and ‘King of Lights’, the Lighthouse of Cordouan.
Distance to beaches:
- La Palmyre (1 mile / 1.5 km)
- Côte Sauvage (3 miles / 5km)
- Ronce-les-Bains (8 miles / 12km)
- St. Palais (6 miles / 10km)
- Royan (10 miles / 16km)
- L’ile d’Oléron (20 miles / 32km)
- La Rochelle (46 miles / 74 km)
Activites and places not to miss
Don’t miss the fantastic zoo at La Palmyre with its 1,600 furry, feathered and scaly creatures. It’s a great day out for all the family and your kids will be enchanted by the animals who love to happily munch popcorn out of their hands - the elephants and giraffes seem particularly keen on the stuff! Don’t forget to buy a bag on arrival!
The zoo runs breeding programmes for endangered species but something makes me suspect that your children are going to be more interested in the parrot and sealion shows, the baby monkeys and zebras, and the extrovert meercats who love to play up to an audience.
This funfair offers tons of thrills and excitement for children and big kids alike, just 1 mile / 1.5km away from Bonne Anse. Dare to bear the drop tower, get carried away on the carousels or defy gravity on the pendulum rides. For those unable to stomach all that, why not admire the fireworks, play games at the stalls or get in to win prizes for the tombola. An evening sure to entertain everyone.
On route or on your way back home, why not visit Futuroscope, one of France’s largest and most popular theme parks. An amazing complex of fountains, walkways and activity domes, it features several enormous Imax cinemas, each with screens seven storeys high, a virtual reality park where you can ‘experience’ skydiving or exploring space, and even a disco where you’re carried aloft by dancing giant robots.
Royan & Violon sur le Sable Concert
The seaside town of Royan is the capital of the Côte de Beauté (Beautiful Coast) region around the vast Gironde Estuary. As well as its bustling marina and fishing port, Royan is the setting for the Violon sur le Sable classical music festival, held each year in late July when the beach becomes a free open-air concert hall. Visitors can enjoy a picnic as well as the wonderful music and in the evening there are firework displays.
The capital of Charente Maritime is La Rochelle, also known as La Ville Blanche (the White City), a stunning coastal city of about 75,000 people. At its heart is the Vieux Port, or Old Harbour, with its historic sea walls and towers. There’s also the Old Town, studded with artisan shops and traditional markets.
La Rochelle has one of the largest and best aquariums in France. Transparent tunnels allow you to walk along surrounded by 12,000 species of sea life – a perfect day of education and spectacle for children.
Another must-see in La Rochelle is the remarkable Tour de la Lanterne, the only remaining medieval lighthouse on the Atlantic coast, which offers views over the entire city. Converted into a jail in the 17th century, the lighthouse features graffiti, scratched into the walls by rogues and pirates.
No holiday to the Charente Maritime would be complete with a visit to Cognac, so if you're after a day out to keep dad happy then this will work a treat. The town gives its name to one of the world’s most well-known types of brandy. Spend the day exploring the town’s medieval quarter ‘Vieux Cognac’, and take in the unusual architecture and narrow cobbled streets. Make sure you fit in a visit to one of the Cognac making houses and sample the iconic brand. The Martell house keeps its visitors well occupied, with sound and light shows as well as taste testings.
You can also go island-hopping. A three-kilometre bridge connects the city of La Rochelle to the chic Île de Ré, where the whole family can cycle up an appetite before visiting one of its fine restaurants. Or challenge everybody, old and young, to a surfing contest on the Ile d’Oléron, before exploring its ruined windmills and sand dunes. Then jump on a boat to get a closer look at the nearby 19th-century fortification Fort Boyard.
Charente Maritime Lighthouses
The Corduan Lighthouse is otherwise known as the King of Lighthouses, and remains a fantastic sight for visitors as one of the oldest French lighthouse in use, and still hosts lighthouse keepers. What sets this lighthouse apart from the others is its Notre Dame de Cordouan chapel, and is set in the middle of the sea 4 miles away / 6km away from the coast. The Chassiron Lighthouse is perched on top of a rocky cliff just west of the Ile d’Oléron, and is remarkable in that it has a light that can be seen 32 miles away / 50 km away! What we love about this lighthouse are its award winning sculpted gardens too.