Discover boutique hotels in Charente-Maritime, France
Combining beach-fringed Atlantic coast and a leafy hinterland dotted with mediaeval communes, the Charente-Maritime (named for the river wending through) is where the French spend their summers. It has a surfeit of sunshine – even rivalling temperatures in the south – and beautiful stretches of sand in Royan and capital La Rochelle. There are suntrap islands, tooL cross the bridges to Île de Ré or Île d’Oléron, or catch a boat to petite Île d’Aix. Floating forts and tower-surveyed ports nod to a maritime past, and chateaux and churches are packed into hollyhock-hung villages – some clocked by Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Also dreamy are its wild marshes and wetlands, such as the famed Marais-Poitevin, dubbed Green Venice for its sailable canals. You’ll find the freshest catches of the day and laden seafood platters here: make like the Charentais-Maritimes and wash them down with the regional claims to fame, cognac, or port wine pineau.
When to go
Sunseekers fly to the coast from June to early September; to avoid the rush, aim to arrive around mid-April or late September to early November, when the weather’s still pleasant.
PlanesThere are direct flights to both La Rochelle and Rochefort airports from major cities throughout Europe; international flights from Africa and Canada fly into Nantes. Visitors from the US will probably need to stopover in mainland Europe. Or, fly into Bordeaux and drive north.
BoatsBrittany Ferries runs a regular route from Portsmouth to St Malo, the closest port to the Charente-Maritime department.
AutomobilesTo fully explore the region, wheels are a necessity. Drives on the interior are naturally beautiful, and the bridges connecting the islands must be crossed by car.