The Atlantic coastline is renowned for its fabulous beaches with a beach to suit all families whatever their preference. Sheltered beaches are ideal for young families looking for great play areas while the outward facing island beaches provide thrills for teenagers and upwards. Here we pick some of our favourites…
Saint Palais-sur-Mer: a curving, sandy beach North-West of Royan with calm waters, and perfect for children. It has clubs for different age groups, and behind the sands are cafés, restaurants and places to buy refreshing ice-creams.
La Palmyre: the 5km long beach is part of the Côte Sauvage North of Royan – a delightfully unspoilt big wave magnet, it’s popular with surfers and wind-surfers. NB: no life-guard patrols.
Châtelaillon-Plage: near La Rochelle, with a ‘Handiplage’ excellence award for serving people with disabilities (amphibious wheelchairs are available), there are also lots of children’s activities. 3km of beach are set against a backdrop of the century-old town’s Belle Epoque architecture.
Baby Plage, Île d'Aix: hidden away in a secluded cove below pine forests close to the Fort Liédot on the North-East shore of the island, you can't bathe here (and it's a little rocky to get down to) but you'll feel like you've finally landed on a desert island. There’s even a shaded picnic table near the access path on the cliff above.
Plage des Saumonards, Île d’Oléron: set beyond sand dunes and pines, the beach is 8 km long, so you should find a tranquil spot. The southern part of the beach is naturist so, if your style is more modest, stick to the northern section.
Plage des Minimes, close to La Rochelle, and popular with the beau-monde, head here on warm evenings and at weekends. With views of the nearby lighthouse, the beach is narrower than some locally, so the sand gets a daily wash.