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Travel guide

With its 460 kilometres of coastline, its important historical heritage and its sunshine, Charente-Maritime is very attractive. In addition, this destination is rich in four islands. Oléron is famous for its oysters, forests and fine sandy beaches. People come to the island of Ré for its beaches, its historical monuments and its many bicycle paths. Aix is a small island where car traffic is prohibited, as is Isle Madame, accessible only at low tide. In Charente-Maritime, several stops are essential in tourist guides. La Rochelle, famous for its port of Les Minimes and its aquarium, Royan, a seaside town on the Côte de Beauté, Rochefort, a former military port on the banks of the Charente, Saintes, with its Gallo-Roman amphitheatre and its basilica listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Talmont-sur-Gironde, built on a small peninsula along the Gironde, Meschers-sur-Gironde, a real balcony on the estuary, owes its fame to its troglodytic caves, Marennes, known for its oysters and bell tower, Brouage, a small citadel in the heart of a marsh, Pons, a medieval city whose pilgrim hospice is classified as a World Heritage Site, Jonzac, another medieval city on the banks of the Seugne. Finally, the most famous place is Fort Boyard, but it is not open to visitors. The gourmet pleasures are shared between cognac, pineau from the Charentes, oysters from Marennes or Tremblade, Charente melon, potatoes from the Ile de Ré, Surgères butter and mussels from bouchot in the baie de l'Aiguillon

What to see, what to do Charente-Maritime?

When to go Charente-Maritime ?

When to go to Charente-Maritime? On the coast and on the islands, the best time is of course in summer. Inside and in cities such as La Rochelle, Royan or Rochefort, you can visit them all year round. In high season prices soar and tourists are mainly concentrated in the seaside towns or on the islands of Ré and Oléron. Late spring and early fall are ideal times to enjoy not only the beach, but also traffic and parking facilities and more reasonable prices. Charente-Maritime is home to some beautiful festivals. The most mediatized is undoubtedly the Francofolies de La Rochelle festival, which takes place around July 14. It combines popular song, alternative, shows for young audiences and the discovery of young talents. In February, the Printemps musical en Ré is a chamber music festival that opens the season of the Saisons musicales en Ré. The festival of kites in Châtelaillon-Plage, which takes place at the end of April, seduces both children and their parents. The show is everywhere with kit-jumpers and their impressive figures, the Air Force aerobatic team, not to mention the night flight staged with sound and light. In mid-June, Musique et gastronomie du monde in Saint-Georges-de-Didonne invites you to travel to the heart of the world's diverse sounds and flavours. In mid-July, the Saintes Festival is an international classical music festival, dedicated mainly to Bach. At the end of September-early October, the Grand Pavois is open to lovers of boating with a guest of honour and hundreds of exhibitors every year

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Il y a de multiples façons de découvrir la Charente-Maritime, le temps d'une escapade ou d'un long séjour. Une chose est sûre, ce territoire est propice à de nombreuses activités qui donneront le sourire aux petits comme aux grands, à tel point que vous n'aurez plus qu'une envie : revenir ! Si vous souhaitez découvrir tout le département et profiter pleinement de toutes les richesses, choisissez plutôt un point central, la ville de Saintes et ses alentours. Nous vous avons préparé deux séjours. Le premier séduira les amoureux de la mer, les menant d'îles en îles, à la découverte de la Côte de Beauté et jusqu'à l'Estuaire de la Gironde. Ce séjour iodé vous permettra d'explorer de jolis villages insulaires, des territoires naturels d'une grande richesse et de prendre un bol d'air vivifiant ! Le deuxième est dédié aux amoureux de gastronomie et d'histoire qui partiront à la découverte de l'arrière-pays et sa lumière si particulière.

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Discover Charente-Maritime

The Charente-Maritime is more than ever linked to this great maritime façade. The numerous seaside resorts that line the coast all have a special link with the ocean, which has made them rich. And what about the archipelago? The four islands each have their own appeal. Some are featured on the cover of fashion magazines, others attract celebrities. Oléron, Ré, Aix and Madame... all benefit from this iodine atmosphere that tourists like so much, and once they step ashore, they have the impression of being in a new world. This ocean is also nourishing! On vacation and all year round, we enjoy seafood, especially mussels in summer. Once you've had your fill, it's time for sport! Charente-Maritime is the ideal territory to practice running, cycling and of course water sports: surfing, paddle, windsurfing... There is something for everyone!

Pictures and images Charente-Maritime

Vue aérienne de Royan PHOVOIR
Course à pied. satori - Fotolia
La Grosse Horloge sur le quai Duperré CMT17 - E. COEFFE
Le port de La Rochelle. Kamira777 - iStockphoto

The 12 keywords Charente-Maritime

1. Benèze

Coming from the patois, this word links the two Charentes. It qualifies people who feel at ease, happy. And they are numerous in the department! You can hear this expression everywhere: at the café, at the beach... because here a certain art of living is cultivated. And the Charentais were delighted to see this word enter the dictionary!

2. Cagouille

This is how, in the Charente patois, the snail is referred to, one of the symbols of the ancient region. The Charente-Maritime is one of the first French producers. Like oysters or mussels, this small animal is cooked with all kinds of sauces! It is also the animal that gave the name to the neighbors of Charente: the cagouillards

3. Funny

This term refers to children, whether they are funny or not! You will hear this expression in both Charentes with a variation for girls called "drôlesses". The expression "un bon drôle" is also used to designate a good person. And to be Benèze, when the weather is nice, it is better that the funny ones wear a chapia!

4. Hermione

The reconstruction of the replica of the frigate is a story of enthusiasts. It began in the early 1990s, in the heart of the Rochefort naval arsenal, before the ship carried out its first sea trials in 2014. The following year, the Hermione left for the United States before her voyage to the Mediterranean and then to Normandy

5. Islands

The Charente-Maritime has four islands including the second largest in France, Oleron. Like its little sister, the very popular Ile de Ré, it is connected to the mainland by a bridge. There is also Aix, a small crescent of land in the heart of the Charente archipelago and Madame, the smallest of all, which can only be approached at low tide.

6. Coastal

Stretching over 450 km, the oceanic coastline extends from the Bay of Aiguillon to the Gironde estuary. It is marked by a great variety of landscapes: marshes, dunes, large sandy beaches but also small creeks and limestone cliffs. Among the coastal communities, La Rochelle is the only one to have a deep water port.

7. Seagull

You will see this bird while walking along the ocean. Voluntarily curious and talkative, the laughing gulls do not hesitate to show themselves, approaching the docks to nibble a few crumbs. They can also be found behind tractors, during ploughing, on the oldest locomotive in France and on the department's logo.

8. Oyster farming

Charente-Maritime is the leading oyster farming department in France, with nearly 1,200 producers, mainly located in the Marennes Oléron basin. In this unique environment, the oyster benefits from exceptional breeding conditions. Refined in oyster beds, former salt marshes, they are the only ones to benefit from the Red Label.

9. Bridges

In the plural, of course, since there are 8 of them on the territory! Among these structures, the two most famous are those that link the islands to the mainland, and they are also the largest, nearly 3 km for the bridge on the island of Ré. Others cross rivers, like the one over the Seudre or the Charente, without forgetting the recently renovated transporter bridge.

10. Ports

Charente-Maritime has no less than 60 of them! The one in La Rochelle is probably the most emblematic, but the traveler will also linger in l'Houmeau for its intimate atmosphere, in Saint-Martin-de-Ré for its fortifications and in Mortagne-sur-Gironde to admire the beautiful white stone houses. So many lively and authentic places

11. Vauban

The Charente-Maritime region has many defensive works designed by Louis XIV's military engineer to protect the Rochefort Arsenal. The most famous are the fortifications of Saint-Martin-de-Ré which served as a shelter for the population. This stronghold of the Charentais channel was classified in 2008 as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

12. Vineyard

The history of the vine in the department goes back to antiquity! Today, the vineyards produce an exceptional beverage: Cognac, an eau-de-vie aged in oak barrels with a beautiful amber color. But the winegrowers of Charente-Maritime also produce a "Vin de Pays" with the appellation "Indication Géographique Protégée"

You are from here, if...

You have already eaten an éclade. Originally from the island of Oléron, this dish is typical of the Charente-Maritime region. The mussels are eaten with your fingers, accompanied by a slice of bread, salted butter and a glass of white wine

You've already seen a Stade Rochelais match. Since 2016, Marcel Deflandre has been sold out with an audience devoted to the yellow and black team. The match days are an integral part of the Rochelais calendar and the flags are displayed everywhere in the city!

You've had a coffee on the terrace. Nestled against the ocean, the Charente-Maritime is one of the sunniest departments in France and the inhabitants know it well! Rochelais, Saintais and Rochefortais meet on the terrace for a convivial moment!

You have sailed on the Charente. The river, dear to François1er and which took part in the development of the department, can be explored by boat or by bike. The opportunity to discover a rich nature and exceptional monuments

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