Royan travel guide

Photo of Royan

Visit Royan (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France)

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The town of Royan is located on the west 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

France This Way review: Royan is a pleasant seaside resort with a lively atmosphere and a large sandy beach, and a good choice if you are looking for a seaside resort in this area

The first monument that you will notice as you approach Royan is the 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.

In fact from close up the church is less dominant than you would expect, but it dominates the skyline because it has been built on a hill in the town.

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...!

Big wheel in Royan

Undoubtedly the big attraction here for most visitors is the proximity to very pleasant beaches, sandy and gently sloping so perfect for children. As well as the main beach, which is very large and sandy, there is a second beach the other side of the port.

You will find a large park and garden between the beach and the town centre, where you can find some shade if the sunshine on the beach becomes a bit much for you!

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, as well as a few 19th century villas along the promenade behind the beach.

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

 
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The town centre in Royan is quite lively, with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. The main town centre is built around a large open square that extends for several hundred metres and is the centre of most activity in the town.

At the end of this square you are 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. On the edge of the port there are several shops and restaurants built into the arches of the original walls of the port, a lovely place for a coffee.

Close to the port you can have take a ride in the big wheel, for nice views across the beaches and port.

Also close to the port and the big wheel, the most impressive modern building in Royan for me was the Palace of Congress, built in 1957 in a sort of 'bauhaus meets prefab' box design. Well I like it!

Port and cafes in Royan

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.

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

See also: 

Photos of Royan

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • beach
  • big-wheel
  • church
  • city-centre (1)
  • city-centre (2)
  • city-centre (3)
  • congress
  • parks (1)
  • parks (2)
  • parks (3)
  • port (1)
  • port (2)
  • promenade

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Visit near Royan with France This Way reviews

Le Verdon-sur-Mer

Le Verdon-sur-Mer

The small resort of Le Verdon-sur-Mer is quiet but has long sandy beaches

Le Verdon-sur-Mer guide
Meschers-sur-Gironde

Meschers-sur-Gironde

The beaches and rocky coast attract visitors to Meschers, and you can also see troglodyte cave dwellings

Meschers-sur-Gironde guide
Mornac-sur-Seudre

Mornac-sur-Seudre

Not far from Royan the centre of Mornac-sur-Seudre is attractive and very pleasant to stroll around

Mornac-sur-Seudre guide
Church Sainte-Radegonde of Talmont

Church Sainte-Radegonde of Talmont

The Church Sainte-Radegonde is a roman style church of the 12th century on the coast at Talmont-sur-Gironde

Church Sainte-Radegonde of Talmont guide
Talmont

Talmont

Talmont-sur-Gironde is one of the prettiest villages in Charente-Maritime, well known for the imposing roman style church

Talmont guide
Soulac-sur-Mer

Soulac-sur-Mer

Soulac-sur-Mer is a long established beach resort at the north of the Medoc peninsula

Soulac-sur-Mer guide

... 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 coordinates: 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)

 
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