Small family seaside resort located at the mouth of the Charente, 14 kilometers north-west of Rochefort, the peninsula of Fouras reserves surprises to visitors as I have discovered during a busy weekend !
Squares and landscapes of Fouras
Squares in Fouras
Great Fouras Beach
Between its 5 beaches of golden sand and its casino, no time to be bored. There is also the tip of the Smoke, where I embarked for a ride at sea to the assault of the famous Fort Boyard, the island of Aix and where to do tastings of local oysters . Enjoy the charm of this unique place and an exceptional panorama of the Pertuis d'Antioche and the islands of Charente-Maritime.
Relaxing setting, water activities and relaxing on the beach, young and old are satisfied. Located between the Bois Vert where the Casino is located and the majestic Fort Vauban, the Grande Plage of Fouras-les-Bains is ideal to spend some time by the sea and in the reservoir at low tide. What to bask in the sun and enjoy the joys of swimming with family! Worse and windy, Esperance Beach is a paradise for windsurfers and kitesurfers while the beach of Coue in the south, shaded, is more suitable for relaxation with a view of the island Madame and the squares .
By bike, you can travel the 14 km of the coast of Fouras and admire the typical Charentais landscapes, punctuated by these curious perched fishing huts , proper to the Atlantic coast.
The fort is getting closer
We are close!
The docking platform
You have understood, furrowing the vastness of the port of Antioche boat gives another dimension to a short stay in Charente-Maritime ! To enjoy a getaway 2 hours from the Pointe de la Fumée, I chose to board the catamaran Vertige (Boyard Cruises), a 12-meter long sailboat with about fifteen other passengers. A rather calm sea, a little sea breeze, a shy but present sun, the contagious enthusiasm of the captain ... in short, all the conditions combined to spend two hours basking on board.
Head to the legendary Fort Boyard , accessible only by sea, discovering Fort Enet and Fort de la Rade for an exotic cruise! A child's dream is finally realized: approaching closer Fort Boyard , the most famous fort in France, has something magical about it.
Before going there, the catamaran goes through the Île d'Aix , the smallest town in the Charente-Maritime department and one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Charente coast. No vehicles are allowed on this charming 3 km long and 0.6 km wide crescent that can be explored on foot or by bike. A true little preserved wonder, in the heart of the estuary of Charente, that I will explore during a day soon, that's for sure! For now, my eyes and those of other passengers are scanning the horizon enjoying the captain's fascinating comments on the history of Fort Liédot , guardian of the island and the arsenal of Rochefort, Fort de la Rade and Jamblet's battery that can be seen in the distance.
The island of Aix by boat
Oyster farming in Fouras
Back on dry land, I discover at low tide the intense oyster farming activity that has been driving the Fouras coastline for centuries. Today, Fouras is the first national center for oyster spat collection . This is thanks to the fresh water of the Charente River and the high temperature of the ocean, which can reach 25 ° in July during the breeding season of the delicious mollusc.
In the summer, oyster farmers do not sleep. They are at work with their tractors to drop and collect collectors and capture the precious oyster spat .
I am pleased to meet Aimée, a vigorous oyster farmer in her 30s, who oversees the year in the 3 cycles of oyster production : breeding, breeding and maturing. Luckily, he just returned from the tide with his tractor full of oyster bags that he will deliver to the cabin of Véronique and Maïté Coutin, at the tip of the Smoke.
I am greeted by the warm smile of Maïté and her mouth-watering display of delights from the Atlantic Ocean . Oysters (of all sizes from number 5 to 1 depending on size), mussels from Aix and Fouras, clams , prawns , whelks , periwinkles , crabs and langoustines from the Atlantic, there are for all tastes ! Now specialists in take-away sales , the two sisters will open their own oyster tasting in the spring of 2020 to offer their production live to the consumer and promote the short circuit .
The view at the top of the dungeon
A little culture and history! Take the height by climbing the steps of Fort Vauban to the terrace of the dungeon at 30m height . It overlooks the Grande Plage for a breathtaking panoramic view of the island of Aix, the island Madame, the island of Oleron, the island of Ré, forts Boyard and Enet. Guaranteed strong feelings for me who have a little dizzy, but the view is well worth it!
Built in the Middle Ages, then fortified in the 17th century, following the construction of the Arsenal of Rochefort in 1666, this gigantic historical and military building protected the Charente estuary and the arsenal of invasions for more than two centuries . It now houses the Regional Museum of Fouras , classified Museum of France, which retraces the maritime, military and seaside past of this charming station on a thematic course on 600 m² of exhibition. Enriching for young and old, I followed the guided tour of the fortification of the underground room and the crypt , also proposed by the museum.
In the evening, I go to the Casino Fouras-les-Bains to try my luck on one of the 75 slot machines ! My budget is limited. First and foremost, I want to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of this historic casino, built in 1886 and the charm of this institution from the fashion of the "baths of sea" and the arrival of the railway of the 19th century. you're not a great player, the on-site cinema will entertain you more with its rich and varied programming!
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Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide Charente Maritime