Upon our arrival to this region, we assigned ourselves the arduous task of trying out as many beaches as possible. We can therefore say, with some authority, that beach-lovers will have come to the right place.
We are as close as an hour and twenty minutes' drive from some of the most spectacular stretches of Atlantic coastline, from the sandy, family-friendly resorts of Châtelaillon, and Royan, to the quieter beaches on the Île de Ré and the Île d'Oléron in Charente-Maritime.
Sand dune and surf-lovers shouldn't miss the fabulous, unspoilt beaches along the Vendée coast, south of Les Sables d'Olonne.
Top 10 Beaches in Poitou Charentes
The region is blessed with many fine sandy beaches, whether you are looking for surfing action or sunbathing with the family. So how do you know which are the best? Here's our opinion as to the top 10 beaches in Poitou Charentes:
Vert Bois - Ile d'Oleron - This surfing beach gets 4 stars from the surfing fraternity, situated north of La Grande Village Plage, this beach is a gem, but watch out for the crowds in summer.
Grande Conche - Royan - This 2km long beach is superb for families and is close to the many facilities on offer at this large town. There are many attractions available close-by if the sand-castle building becomes too much.
St Georges de Didonne - A 2km beach sandy beach, at the end of which is sited the Parc de l'Estuaire, offering an interactive museum, forest walks and educational tours. There is a 36m tall lighthouse which overlooks the small port offering excellent views of the Charentaise coastline.
Le Bois Plage en Re - Ile de Re - There are a number of beaches to choose from along the 5km of coastline here, with conditions ideal for water sports. The beaches are gently shelving and bordered by pine forests, and two of them are manned by lifeguards in the peak season.
La Plage de la Conche/Pointe de Fier - Ile de Re - Situated between Les Portes and St Clements, and at the edge of the Trousse-Chemise Pine Forest, these picturesque beaches are at the quiet end of the Ile de Re, an area popular with artists and painters.
St Georges d'Oleron -Île d'Oléron - This town has the most km of sandy beaches on the island, the easterly beaches offering calmer bathing conditions, such as those at Boyardville (north) and Saumonards (south), and the westerly beach at L'Acheneau being the best for surfing and body boarding.
St Trojan les Bains -Île d'Oléron - The beaches at La Petite Plage and Plage de Manson are sheltered and ideal for children, and here it is possible to attend the sailing school or hire small sailing boats, wind-surfers and jet-skis.
Chatelaillon Plage - Fringed by the 700 or so Belle Epoque villas, this 3km stretch of beach has a traditional seaside resort feel, and boasts panoramic views out to the islands (Re, Aix, Oleron) and the Pertuis d'Antioche (Antioche Strait).
Grande Plage - Ile d'Oleron - As the name suggests, this is a big stretch of beach. La Grande Plage is a 12km stretch of surfing beach backed by the forest and dunes, and is said to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Cote Sauvage - It's hard to classify this as ‘a' beach, as this is a 30km stretch of pine forest and dune-backed sandy beach on the Arvert Peninsula. Super surfing, and great for families. Even in peak season, it is hard for this beach to feel crowded.