Royan, Charente-Maritime tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Royan (Poitou-Charentes region)

Visit Royan (Poitou-Charentes, France)

Royan is located on the western coast of France, in the Charente-Maritime department and on the northern side of the Gironde estuary.

Most of the original town centre was destroyed in 1945 during WWII bombardments (later shown to be unnecessary and with a terrible cost - up to 3,000 civilians were killed during the attack on the town that no longer contained any Germans). As a result, the city we visit today has been built during the course of the last 50 years - with some successes, and some less successful additions.

Explore Royan

The first monument that you will notice is the Royan Church of Notre-Dame. A tall construction that towers over the town and is resolutely modern (in a 1950's way) you will either love its tall concrete lines...or hate them. Whichever it is be sure to take a look inside where the theme is continued.

Another style of 1950's church can be seen at the Church Notre-Dame de l'Assomption. There are also a couple of original churches in Royan - including the much restored Church of Saint-Pierre. But perhaps you didin't come to Royan for the churches...!

Undoubtedly the big attraction here for most visitors is the proximity to very pleasant beaches, sandy and gently sloping so perfect for children. Since the early decades of the 20th century Royan has been a popular seaside resort. Some fascinating architectural houses from this period can be seen at Pontaillac.

The promenade along Royan seafront is also very pleasant, with gardens and trees planted along the route, and low-rise apartment blocks and shops lining the back of the seafront. Full credit to whoever kept the buildings to two stories in height.

Royan itself has a lively centre, with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. You are also unlikely to miss another 'modernist' design in Royan - the Central Market - with a roof that to me at least resembles some kind of giant seashell. Not necessarily a beautiful structure, but a great place to get your fresh fruit and fish.

The other big highlight is the harbour - quite substantial in size and housing a great number of pleasure craft, as well as an active fishing fleet. You can take boat trips along the coast from the harbour, or just enjoy the atmosphere.

Incidentally for me the most impressive modern building in Royan was the Palace of Congress, built in 1957 in a sort of 'bauhaus meets prefab' box design. Well I like it!

Attractions Nearby

If you like gardens, be sure to head to the extensive 'Gardens of the World' at the north of the town, for a chance to see all types of garden - from Japanese to Mediterranean, carefully recreated.

South of Royan at Meschers-sur-Gironde you can visit the Grottes de Régulus, a substantial troglodyte settlement - some slightly curious 'period settings and re-enactments' don't detract from the attractive setting on the Gironde estuary.

Another very popular destination nearby is the village and church at Talmont, about 15 kilometres south-east of Royan.

You can find more travel ideas in the Charente-Maritime guide and the Poitou-Charentes guide.

See also:

Map of Royan and places nearby

Visit near Royan with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Charente-Maritime

Tourist classifications for Royan

Royan has received the following tourist classifications: listed town of Art and History ; village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*

Address: Royan, Rochefort, Poitou-Charentes, 17200, France || GPS: latitude 45.62, longitude -1.03

Plan your visit to Royan, Charente-Maritime

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

Market days in Royan, France

Regular market(s) are held in Royan each every day except Monday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Royan (Francais)