Luxury holidays in Charente-Maritime

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.

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Areas in Charente-Maritime

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.

Getting there

  • Planes

    There 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.
  • Boats

    Brittany Ferries runs a regular route from Portsmouth to St Malo, the closest port to the Charente-Maritime department.
  • Automobiles

    To 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.