Walks and hikes in Charente-Maritime

Walks and hikes in Ch ...

You want to walk and hike in Charente-Maritime? This department has nearly 5,000 km of hiking trails, to the delight of hikers. We have selected the coolest itineraries for you, for young and old athletes. Put on your walking shoes, let's go hiking on the plains of Charente-Maritime!

The slightly hilly terrain of this Aquitaine basin lends itself well to walking. The coast and its islands, the Charente estuary, the mouth of the Gironde, the Arvert peninsula, the Marais Poitevin make it one of the most pleasant French departments to explore. Especially since it is a sport that adapts to all levels, from quiet walks to brisk walking. In addition, the oceanic climate is mild. It offers beautiful days and moderate temperatures, which make hiking easier in all seasons. It is such a pleasure to breathe deeply this invigorating sea air! Are you well motivated? So, let's go, we will guide you on the paths of Charente-Maritime.

Opening photo : © tunach17 / Adobe Stock

the Routes of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in Charente-Maritime

The Ways of Santiago de Compostela cross Europe to reach Galicia, at the western tip of Spain. There are four main main tracks and secondary tracks. The Charente-Maritime is crossed by the Voie de Tours which comes from Paris. You can start it at Aulnay and take the GR655 hiking trail. Following in the footsteps of pilgrims, you will be able to appreciate this magnificent medieval religious heritage which marks it out, and in particular :

Saint Jacques de Compostela
The roads of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle await you in Charente-Maritime. Photo @Tibor Janosi Mozes / Pixabay

Walk the coastal path around La Rochelle

The coastal path is a secondary route of the Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, which connects Brittany and England, along the Atlantic coast from Quimper to Irun, on the Spanish border. In Charente-Maritime, you can join the Sentier des Douaniers, around La Rochelle. It is a 70km walkway, which offers breathtaking views. Here are the points of interest not to be missed :

La Rochelle
Take the opportunity to explore La Rochelle, a modern and pleasant city in all seasons. Photo @Anthony Arnaud / Pixabay

Explore the Marais Poitevin

In the “Green Venice”, as the Marais Poitevin is called, we generally take advantage of the so-called “wet” marshes to navigate the canals, aboard pretty boats. But the "dried up" marsh extends to the coast. It is crisscrossed with charming hiking trails, in the heart of this green setting protected by the Regional Natural Park. There are many routes from Surgères. You can also find the Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle there, which will take you to Saintes.

Take a hike in the Marais d'Yves Nature Reserve (fr). It organizes specific tours for hikers, junior safaris, or themed: "in the footsteps of animals", or "bird watching"...

Stroll in the salt marshes of the Ile de Ré

Between Portes-en-Ré, Ars-en-Ré and Loix, the Lilleau des Niges Reserve is an area for the protection of wild and poultry fauna in particular. The incessant ballet of birds is an extraordinary spectacle. As the reserve is not accessible for the well-being of its protected, you can see them from the surrounding paths or from the park of the Phare des Baleines. For the most part, these are greenways, pedestrian and cycle paths. But the other half of the island, from Saint-Martin-en-Ré to Sainte-Marie-de-Ré, is not left out. Whether you are on foot, by bike or with a stroller, the tourist office lists more than 30 routes (fr), passing through small alleys in villages or along beautiful beaches and marshes. Here is our selection of the best winter walks on the Ile de Ré.

salt marshes
Admire the salt marshes of the Ile de Ré. Photo @Guide Charente Maritime

Discover the Charente estuary, between Fouras-les-Bains and Rochefort

Return to the mainland to enter the Charente estuary, with Fort Boyard in sight. The Rochefort-Océan tourist office offers you different routes, in town for city dwellers, on the edge of the estuary or in the countryside to do with the family, and a section for backpackers with longer hikes. They are available in the Walks & Hikes section. A topo-guide with 26 routes to Fouras-les-Bains, Île d'Aix… will be given to you at the tourist office.

Fort Boyard
Meet Fort Boyard, from the mainland or on a sea trip! Photo @Guide Charente Maritime

Go around the island of Oléron, between oyster ports and wild beaches

On the island of Oléron, the hiking circuits take you to the immense beaches of the island, take you through authentic small ports and discover wild spaces. But what characterizes it are its oyster landscapes of salt marshes and oyster beds. 22 hikes are offered by the tourist office of the Île d'Oléron and the Marennes basin and are classified according to a theme or a point of interest.

Just opposite Oléron, is the famous Marennes basin. Between the Charente estuary, the island of Oléron and the banks of the Seudre, the Moëze-Oléron Nature Reserve protects a maritime and coastal area, including the “Mer des Pertuis”, the marshes, the mud flats and the salt meadows. The reserve offers guided tours, but the surroundings also deserve your attention.

The Citadel of the Château d'Oléron, a lovely walk for the whole family. Photo @Guide Charente Maritime

Walk along the Gironde estuary from Royan

Royan is a seaside town, with original architecture, but which has a lot of charm. It is surrounded by other very pretty localities, to see during your walks. Our favorite is the coastal path, to enjoy the splendid light, which is reflected on the coast, especially in winter. But you will find many others on the interactive map of the Royan Atlantique agglomeration site (fr). We advise you to take a break in Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, for its family activities.

At the end of the Arvert peninsula, don't miss Talmont-sur-Gironde, a fortified village that you can explore on foot.

The good plan : For the amateurs of orienteering races, go to the section "Courses" of the agglomeration of Royan (fr).

pontaillac beach
Pontaillac Beach in Royan, perfect for a morning walk, its squares in the distance. Photo @Guide Charente Maritime

Follow the Charente in the Vals de Saintonge

As you enter the Charente estuary, you enter the Vals de Saintonge. It is a little-known region of Charente-Maritime, but it allows you to better appreciate the Charente river and its estuary, which too often comes in second behind the famous mouth of the Gironde. The tourist office of Vals de Saintonge gives you ideas for tours, of which you will find all the practical information in the information offices, on site. You can view some of them on this interactive map. The tourist office of Saintes offers 18 hiking trails (fr).

Enjoy the countryside in Haute-Saintonge

To get away from the coast, in the Charente countryside, you are taken to the more rural part of Charente-Maritime. It is an environment of meadows, forests and vineyards. But it is also a land of water and thermal springs. The tourist office offers small and long hikes to explore the surroundings of Jonzac and Haute-Saintonge. Here is our selection :

Go on an adventure with the children and Terra Aventura in Charente-Maritime

Terra Aventura is a giant, free treasure hunt for the whole family. You go in search of the Poïz, small collectible characters. Along the way, you must find clues, left in the urban or natural heritage. It is therefore a good opportunity to play sports, while having fun and learning. To get started, nothing could be simpler. You need a smartphone, download the application from the Terra Aventura website and motivate the troops!

family hike
Terra Aventura, perfect for finding a way to make children walk! Photo : @Markus Baumeler / Pixabay

Sites to go further

You will find many other hiking routes in Charente-Maritime on the following sites :

We have reached the end of our hiking guide in Charente-Maritime and we just have to wish you beautiful walks!

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