Seaside getaway on the coast of Royan

Royan
Seaside getaway on th ...

And if we took off, where the horizon is the only limit. In Charente Maritime, the Côte de Beauté stretches from the southern flank of the Arvert peninsula to Meschers and bears its name well. Here, the expression "between land and sea" takes on its full meaning! His gem? Royan! Between white sand beaches, Belle Époque villas, modern architecture, indented coastline and seaside atmosphere, the city seduces architecture lovers as much as nature lovers in all seasons. One of the best ways to take the measure of the singular charms of Royan is to take the Sentier des Douaniers between Pontaillac beach and Grande Conche beach. The opportunity to discover breathtaking landscapes!

Stroll to the sound of the waves along the Corniche de Royan

Corniche of Royan
Corniche of Royan


Pontaillac Beach

We start this 3 km walk on the vast beach of Pontaillac located in the town of Vaux-sur-Mer. Absolute change of scenery guaranteed in this large cove nestled between the cliffs! Here, it is the domain of squares, these small wooden fishermen's huts, mounted on stilts, extended by a quadrangular net stretched in the void. The cliff on the right of the beach is particularly remarkable for the magnificent series of 10 squares which contribute to the very marked personality of this beach! Sheltered from the winds, for sea or sunbathing until sunset, Pontaillac beach is the promise of an unparalleled moment of relaxation on the golden sand. Another curiosity on this beach: the Royan casino, typical of the architecture of the 1930s!


Pontaillac Beach
Pontaillac Beach


The Corniche, from conch to conch

To the sound of the waves, we walk along the beach to continue our walk on the Douaniers path which runs along the coast formed by limestone cliffs and riddled with sandy beaches, called here “conches” . Along the way, we admire the superb Belle Époque villas nestled in green parks, survivors of the Allied bombings in 1945 responsible for the destruction of 85% of the city.

For the historical context, the town of Royan developed in the 19th century under the impetus of the fashion for sea bathing arriving from England. Tourism then experienced a dazzling boom thanks to steamboats transporting passengers from Bordeaux from 1820, then with the arrival of the first steam trains at Royan station in 1875. On the rocks facing the sea, the holiday resorts are multiply, of original and exuberant architecture, from the chalet to the castle inspired by medieval castles, passing by the cottage modeled on Anglo-Saxon constructions! Note, for example, the superb Hôtel du Golf built in 1856 which dominates the bay. A wide variety of architectural models coexist, with the added bonus of some superb examples of modernist architecture from the 1950s and 1960s, thus revealing the eclectic charm of Royan and its inescapable attraction for lovers of design and architecture!

The good idea: Read our article on the architecture of Royan (fr).


We continue on the Boulevard de la Côte d'Argent, passing elegant residences. On the way, a stop is essential in front of a memorial to pay homage to the British soldiers who died during Operation "Frankton" , a commando operation intended to sabotage German ships in 1942. The maritime setting is rejuvenating: in front of us the estuary de la Gironde unfolds as far as the eye can see, the waves hit the rocks in a constant bubbling of foam.


The Gironde estuary
Dovecote conch


Very quickly, we reach the Conche du Pigeonnier, this intimate cove of fine sand very popular with families. The creeks follow one another. The path leads us to the small Conche du Chay, sheltered in the middle of the rocky cliffs. A corner of paradise that looks like a postcard and the size of a postage stamp! It is indeed the smallest beach in Royan.

Along the path, other vestiges dating from the Second World War are visible. In front of the residential district of Le Chay, the historic 18th century fort, transformed into a bunker, is a striking example of the defensive structures of the Atlantic Wall. Strategically located at the mouth of the Gironde estuary, Royan was from 1942 a veritable fortress for the occupying forces! Further on, another memorial called "Le Souffle 1954" stands in tribute to the victims of the bombings of January 5 and April 15, 1945, which destroyed almost the entire city.

The good idea: Read our article on the Sentier des Douaniers, from Vaux-sur-mer to Saint-Palais


Corniche of Royan
Corniche of Royan
Corniche of Royan
All along the corniche, information panels tell the story of Royan

The Port of Royan

Revealing some picturesque squares hanging from the rocks, the coastal path joins the boulevard Germaine de la Falaise which leads us to the last cove before the port: the conche de Foncillon, with a pretty urban and family beach. We reach the urban part of the Royan seafront: the port, its auction, its quays and its piers. An effervescent place which successively includes the basin with the pier of the Royan-Le Verdon bac-ferry pier, the fishing port and the marina. It is a very lively place during the day and in the evening, away from car traffic: it is both a fishing port (small fishing and coastal fishing), an important marina with a a thousand berths, and a space for relaxation and leisure with the "Vaults" of the port of Royan along the quay, made up of charming shops, restaurants and cafés.


The Port of Royan
The Port of Royan
The Port of Royan


The Royan marina is also the starting point for sea excursions to explore the Talmont estuary as far as Saint-Palais, to approach the Cordouan lighthouse and even to visit it on days when the tide allows land. During the day or in the evening, the launch La Sirène 3 is an excellent choice to discover these unique landscapes on board!

Our walk ends on the Grande Conche, Royan's huge sandy beach which stretches for nearly 3 kilometers, bordered by a pedestrian promenade and Boulevard Frédéric-Garnier. What a beautiful hike to discover "the pearl of the Côte de Beauté" and get away from it all for a few hours!


Must-see visits in Royan

Roayn Museum
Royan central market


To prolong the pleasure, we are now going to explore the city center and its key attractions: the Royan museum which retraces the history of the city since Gallo-Roman times, the modern Notre-Dame-de-la- sea built between 1955 and 1958 where still the central market of Royan, witness of the architecture of the reconstruction, an unmissable meeting place for the people of Royan but also a reservoir of fresh, local and succulent products, to be consumed without moderation!

Nice discovery of Royan!

Did you like our report? Find more on the Guide Charente-Maritime blog. Connect to the Charente Maritime Guide Facebook page to be kept up to date with our news. We are also on Instagram @guidecharentemaritime


Article and photos prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Guide Charente Maritime


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