Enviably positioned alongside the Bay of Biscay, Royan offers all the ingredients necessary for wonderful family holidays. See spectacular coastlines with vast, pine-flanked sandy beaches and impressive dunes. Watersports are a passion here and excellent surfing is available at several locations.
To the north, the rich, fertile valley of the Charente River boasts acres of Cognac vineyards. From Royan you can take a ferry to the Médoc peninsula where some of the finest wines in the world are produced. While further south, place names such as Bordeaux and Bergerac provide ample clues to the fact that this entire area is renowned globally for its quality wines.
Royan is surrounded by the pine forest of La Coubre, and the nearby island of Oléron, reached by a bridge, has excellent beaches and an ancient citadel. The Marennes area is one of the most important oyster farming regions in France.
Both Royan and Gascony are famous for shellfish and ‘magrets’ (grilled duck breast), as well as confits of duck, while the gentle climate makes this area ideal for producing Armagnac. Almost every village has a market and these provide some of the best places for purchasing fresh bread as well as delicious local produce.
North of Royan, La Rochelle is often called France’s ‘White City’, a name derived from the white frontages of many of its original buildings. A fascinating old town, La Rochelle has a beautiful fortified harbour that is guarded by a pair of medieval towers that can be explored. La Rochelle has a fabulous aquarium as well as two moored ships that serve as floating museums. There is a handful of pretty islands off the coast and boat trips can be booked locally.
No celebratory meal is complete without a glass of fine Cognac, a spirit produced from distilling white wine followed by an aging process that can last many years. As its name suggests, this small port on the Charente River is famous as being the centre of France’s brandy industry. You can arrange a guided tour at several of the town’s ‘Cognac Houses’, including Martell and Hennessey. There will be an opportunity for tasting during your tour, plus you’ll be able to buy a bottle or two!
With five fine sandy beaches, it’s no surprise that Royan has grown up to become an exceptionally popular seaside resort. Royan’s sweeping promenade is alive with pavement cafés and gift shops, plus there is also a popular casino. At the Phare de Cordouan you will find an incredible lighthouse that dates back to the early 17th Century and even contains a chapel. Various boat trips run from the harbour throughout the summer and some include a trip to the lighthouse.
With its excellent beaches, pine forests and dunes, Ile d’Oléron is a hugely popular holiday destination. Linked to the mainland by a huge bridge, this impressive French island – dwarfed only by Corsica – is, however, best known for its delicious oysters and shellfish.
You will find this water-fun park just outside Arcachon. A great day out for the whole family, there are huge waterchutes, including the ‘Black Hole’, River Rapids, free-fall rides, a wave pool and plenty to entertain younger children.
La Palmyre is a lively resort with one of the best zoos in France. The zoo places great importance on keeping all animals in surroundings that are as natural as possible.
If you enjoy sailing and windsurfing or are keen to learn the ropes, during the summer months, a Royal Yacht Association-approved sailing school operates on the shores of the lake at Gastes. Here you can take a dinghy sailing or windsurfing course with English instructors.
A beautiful harbour town guarded by a pair of medieval towers. If you’re visiting La Rochelle in July, look out for the various events that accompany the annual film festival.
Affectionately known as ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Castle’, Château de la Roche Courbon is, in fact, a breathtaking 15th Century palace with exquisite formal gardens, extensive grounds and an elegant lake. La Roche Courbon is located in Saint-Porchaire between Saintes and Rochefort in the Charente-Maritime. Tour the historic rooms with their well-preserved decorations, then visit the prehistoric caves to the south of the grounds.
Once a resting point for pilgrims before they crossed the Charente River, this beautiful medieval city dates back to Roman times, and proudly displays a magnificent arch that is almost two thousand years’ old. Cruise boats operate from the quayside, making Saintes a good spot to enjoy a leisurely afternoon cruise.
Wine lovers will enjoy touring the vineyards of the Médoc and the famous châteaux of the Bordeaux wine region, about an hour's drive to the south.
An impressive château parc set in 130 acres near sandy beaches, its excellent facilities include superb pools for the whole family.
Côte d'Argent is found in a superb location close to France's largest fresh water lake, with an excellent pool complex and easy access to a lovely sandy beach.
Situated in 42 acres of naturally landscaped grounds, close to a superb sandy beach, this parc is ideal for a fun family holiday, with swimming pools, mini farm and a playground.
The perfect opportunity to have a second Keycamp holiday!
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