Serving as the capital of the Côte de Beauté, Royan is an attractive seaside resort at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary. It was of strategic importance in the Viking Age and later became a Protestant stronghold during the Reformation. In the mid-19th century, it rose in popularity amongst tourists due to its sea baths and has garnered a reputation in recent years for its post-war Modernist architecture.
Things to do in Royan
An architectural highlight of Royan is the Church of Notre-Dame, which was rebuilt on a design by Guillaume Gillet and Marc Hébrard after Allied bombing. Gaze up at the 65-metre-high bell tower before stepping inside the church’s monumental interior, which is illuminated by stained glass windows depicting the Stations of the Cross.
Another architectural icon is the Royan Central Market Hall, which houses more than 150 vendors selling fresh produce and artisan goods. It’s considered a feat of engineering, with its futuristic design of thickly-walled concrete shell constructed with no internal pillars.
Spend a day relaxing on the sands of La Grande Conche, which stretches south-east from the Port de Royan. A short boat ride away takes you to the Cordouan Lighthouse, an early 17th-century Renaissance masterpiece that overlooks the mouth of the Gironde Estuary. It’s been nicknamed the “Versailles of the Sea” and offers sweeping views across the coast from its lantern balcony.
Getting around Royan
La Rochelle – Île de Ré Airport is just over an hour’s drive from Royan and has flights to destinations across Europe. Trains connect from the Royan railway station to destinations across France while buses travel throughout Royan.