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The Charente islands

Delightful outings off the coast

Hotel Saint-Nicolas

From La Rochelle, discover three different islands with three different atmospheres. The nearest of these is the Île de Ré. Accessible from the mainland by a bridge (free for pedestrians and cyclists), the island is surrounded by clear waters warmed by the Gulf Stream. With its white sandy beaches, its whitewashed houses, its hollyhocks and mimosas, its salt marshes, its traditional little villages, its vineyards, and its forests of maritime pines and green oaks, the Île de Ré has plenty to enchant day visitors and holidaymakers alike. The eastern part of the island is home to farmland, with early produce, vines and famous new potatoes all grown here.

An hour from La Rochelle, the Île d’Oléron is accessible by a toll-free bridge open 24/7. It’s the largest island in the archipelago, 30 km long and 6 km wide. Beaches, oyster farms, marshes, state-owned forests, dunes, and cliffs can all be found within this territory. The ocean provides an excellent place to practice numerous nautical activities. The island’s eastern coast is calmer and suitable for family bathing, while the wild coast, being more exposed to the wind and waves, is ideal for surfing.

Only accessible by sea (with maritime liaisons from La Rochelle’s Vieux Port), the Île d’Aix is surrounded by fortifications and boasts small white houses dotted with hollyhocks. Beaches, wild creeks, undergrowth, and vineyards dot the landscape, accessible on foot, by bike or by carriage. You can go round the whole island along the “Sentier des Douaniers” (Customs Officer’s Path). From the pier, you can also see Fort Boyard.

Constructed to protect the Charente estuary and protect the arsenal at Rochefort, this enormous stone vessel became the backdrop for the TV game show Fort Boyard. There are numerous inter-isle ferries to help you discover this legendary stone giant and most famous fort in the world, most notably departing from La Rochelle’s Vieux Port. Enjoy a sea boat tour of Fort Boyard with commentary, a trip to the Île d’Aix with a circle of the fort, and above all an evening cruise that will allow you to admire the sunset over Fort Boyard. They make for unforgettable moments worth immortalising in photos.

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