For the kids
Terrific beaches abound on the nearby Côte de Beauté, Côte Sauvage and in Royan itself. There’s the main town beach, La Grande Conche, which has terrific family facilities and lifeguards in high season, and Foncillon, with its open-air seawater swimming pool opposite the Palais du Congrès. Energetic Pontaillac is great for surf enthusiasts and jet-skiers. Pigeonnier and Chay are smaller, quieter coves away from the main fray. Whichever beach experience you opt for, you won’t be disappointed.
Things to discover & special events
Visit Planet Exotica, a botanical garden with bonsais, butterflies, Japanese garden, adventure trail and life-size dinosaur models to keep all the family entertained for hours! Royan’s Marina is packed with berths of mesmerising yachts, and under the archways there are chandlers, boutiques, galleries and restaurant terraces from which to watch the world go by. Surrender to the lure of the Atlantic and take a boat trip to Phare de Cordouan, France’s oldest, still-manned lighthouse – and open to visitors. And don’t miss Royan’s annual summertime extravaganza: Violon sur le Sable. It’s an unforgettably heady mix of beach, opera and fireworks that will surprise and delight.
Hidden gems & discoveries
Take the 15-minute boat trip to the car-free idyll of Ile de Batz – there are plenty of glorious, sandy beaches, and at only two miles long, you can cross its length and breadth (walking or cycling) without breaking too much of a sweat! Or seek out the extraordinary Jardin Georges Delaselle. These gardens house 3,000 species of tropical plants from all five continents, and have unparalleled views back to the mainland. In Roscoff town, Maison des Johnnies is a quaintly eccentric museum dedicated to the men who, from the 1830s to the 1970s, brought the distinctively pink and sweet Roscoff onion to the British doorstep (think beret-sporting Frenchman on a bicycle heavy laden with onions – this is ‘Onion Johnnie’). Roscoff also does great French food – try a moules-frites in one of the atmospheric restaurants overlooking the harbour – and there are crêpe, galette and cider options aplenty. Don’t miss an opportunity to try kouign amann cake either – made of butter, sugar, and… more butter! An unctuously rich, sweet delight.
Distance/driving time from Bonne Anse Plage
Distance/driving time from Les Charmettes
Distance/driving time from La Pignade