The 16 Best Things To Do in Royan, France


Last Updated on 10/01/2023 by Alfred

On holiday in Charente-Maritime? Put down your suitcases and make a stopover to visit Royan and its must-sees.

Seaside resort on the Atlantic coast; if you go to visit Royan, expect an exceptional holiday. Between white sand beaches, Belle Époque villas, modern architecture, large lighthouses, and natural parks, the city seduces architecture lovers, adventurers in search of nature, or holidaymakers preferring the beach.

To help you prepare for your stay, Generation voyage has selected the must-sees to do in Royan.

1. The Church of Our Lady of Royan

Come and visit Royan and its Notre-Dame church, inaugurated in 1958. It is a true symbol of modern architecture. The old church of Royan, built in 1874, was wiped off the map during German bombings on January 5, 1945. Waves of bombers destroyed the city by 85%.

It was, therefore, necessary to rebuild Royan and its church. At the time, the mayor, Max Brusset, wanted a standing city with the highest possible church. It is the architect Guillaume Gillet is in charge of the construction. Mission accomplished since this almond-shaped church raises its bell tower to 60 meters high. The building mainly uses reinforced cement and concrete.

Unfortunately, the concrete proved to be of poor quality, and renovations were quickly required. Thanks to several private initiatives, the church is skilfully decorated with statuary, stained glass windows, and a large organ.

2. The Pontaillac district

A must-to-do in Royan, Pontillac remains the upscale district. Located to the west of the city, the area was relatively spared from bombing.

Its position as a “rich” neighborhood dates back to 1850. At that time, a wealthy Bordeaux, J. Lacaze, became the first to establish a villa there. Subsequently, other notables settled there and built luxury villas that today make the reputation of Pontillac.

More than a neighborhood, it is a city within a city with its waterfront and its ever-busier beach. A wood-clad promenade has been installed with a majestic gazebo giving the additional charm to this unique area.

3. Barrière Casino

What to do in Royan in the evening? Come for a ride at the casino and try your luck at roulette. The casino of Royan offers many games of chance or strategy. Poker table, slot machine, blackjack, wheel of luck, … everything is there! If you like competition, compete against other holidaymakers at table games. If you are rather lonely, an electronic English roulette or an electronic blackjack is planned.

After testing all the games, taste the chef’s specialties in the casino restaurant. Café Barrière offers you an exceptional panorama of Pontaillac beach while you enjoy a delicious recipe for fresh fish.

In the evening, artistic shows are also planned to amaze you. Humor, plays, dinner shows or concerts… check the casino’s website to see the programming.

4. The Convention Centre

Visiting Royan is necessarily visiting the Palais des Congrès. An emblematic building of the city, the convention center has been labeled a historical heritage of the twentieth century, then a historical monument. Originally, it was a modular auditorium with ten halls, a reception hall, and a restaurant.

The convention center has the shape of a cube and was built entirely of reinforced concrete. The whole is softened by external stairs in oblique movement and by the walls subtly interwoven with the construction.

5. The central market

Come visit Royan and taste the local dishes during a walk to the central market. Emblematic monument of the city, it offers hundreds of local products. As soon as summer arrives, the market is open every day. You can stock up on fruits and vegetables from Charente-Maritime.

In addition to its products, the market is to be discovered for the originality of its structure. The conch-shaped building perfectly characterizes the modernist architecture specific to the city of Royan. At the time, the construction of the market was considered an architectural feat.

The vault consists of a concrete veil with a thickness of eight centimeters. The light passes through this vault through a set of glass bricks for better brightness.

6. The beach of the Grande Conche

More than two kilometers of sand await you at the Grande Conche. Located right in the city center, the beach is ideal for families.

On the seafront, many restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors await you to recharge your batteries.

A water sports enthusiast, you will not be disappointed on this beach. The waves are ideal for a surf session. Depending on the winds, you can practice windsurfing or sailing.

And if you prefer more relaxed water sports, grab your paddle board and row on the beach of La Grande Conche.

7. A boat ride around the lighthouses

What to do in Royan for an unforgettable stay? Why not a nice boat ride? Indeed, by taking advantage of the boat rental in Royan, you can sail offshore to discover the famous lighthouse of Cordouan. Located on a rocky islet, the lighthouse rises above the Ocean. Built-in the sixteenth century, it is the oldest lighthouse in France.

In addition to the lighthouse, you can admire the pointe de graves, the troglodyte caves, the fort of Suzac, and many other things. With or without a permit, it’s a relaxing and discovery day that reaches out to you!

8. A karting session

Want to visit Royan differently? Do a karting session with friends or family. Many karting centers in Royan offer you their circuits for a moment of pure happiness. Whether you are a beginner or experienced, karting is an activity that is suitable for everyone.

No need for equipment or special physical condition to go around the slopes. Aboard your kart, take the corners and overtake your competitors to finish first in the race.

If you have never done karting, a briefing is done before each departure.

9. The tiles

Come and admire the tiles in Royan and discover the world of fishermen. These are quadrangular fishing nets that are dived to dredge shrimp or mullet. They are hung on small huts mounted on large wooden peaks. Charente-Maritime is the land of tiles, since the department has not far from 400.

Near Royan, they are observed in clusters or isolated. The main sites where to admire tiles are Meschers-Sur-Gironde, Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, Vaux-sur-Mer or Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. In the town of Royan, you can also find them on the tip of Chay, on the rocks of the Pigeonnier or in Pontillac.

10. Planet Exotica

Discover the Planet Exotica zoo near Royan. You are immersed in an exotic universe to discover wild animals; snakes, crocodiles, alligators and even dinosaurs. The flora is also present in this park with bonsai trees, millenary olive trees and other exotic plants.

The site of more than seven hectares offers many infrastructures to spend an unforgettable day: children’s area, greenhouses, mini-farm, reptile area, museum, shows, picnic area, bars, etc.

11. The Devil’s Bridge

Come and visit Royan and its surroundings to discover the Devil’s Bridge. Located in Saint-Palais sur Mer, this bridge is a rock formation of natural limestone. Don’t forget your camera to immortalize this wonder of nature.

According to legend, a fisherman totally lost in the middle of a storm washed up on the reefs of the peninsula. To save himself, he sold his soul to the devil. Legend has it that the devil built a stone bridge to allow him to return to land.

12. A bike ride on the big coast

To visit Royan and its surroundings is necessary to visit the Côte de Beauté. This coastline offers varied landscapes and preserved natural areas. Nothing like it for a family bike ride.

During your holidays in Royan, take the path of the Vélodyssée. It is a route connecting Northern Brittany to the Basque country while following the Atlantic. In Charente-Maritime, this trail connects the towns of Marennes to Royan for a length of 45 kilometers.

You will discover the dunes that border the wild beaches, the salt marshes and the Estuary of the Seudres. On the road you will be totally quiet. On the Vélodyssée, no motor vehicle can circulate there (with the exception of a few short-distance portions).

13. Estuary Park

Located in Saint-Georges de Didonne, the estuary park transports you into the wilderness. This natural area is perched on a cliff facing the mouth of the Gironde estuary.

You have the possibility to visit the park alone or with an animator. He will share with you his environment and his know-how. The park raises visitors’ awareness of the preservation of nature through a fun discovery. In addition to guided tours, workshops, games, exhibitions or shows are planned regularly.

14. Palmyra Zoo

With more than 110 species, the Palmyra Zoo promises you an unforgettable day.

The park is divided into six categories:

  • Carnivores: powerful, agile and fierce, they fascinate and frighten us at the same time. The Palmyre Zoo takes you to meet tigers, cheetahs, panthers, meerkats or the king of the jungle
  • Birds: the park offers about thirty species of birds. Some are threatened in their natural environment such as the Bali starling or the Buffon’s macaw. The park is therefore intended to protect them. Other species fly freely within the zoo. So don’t be surprised to see storks, geese or pelicans above your heads.
  • Primates: about thirty species are present at the zoo, including the best known gorilla and orangutan
  • Ungulates: these are all animals with hooves, such as giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos and many others
  • Marine mammals: you will discover seals, sea lions or sea otters
  • Reptiles: discover these ancestral animals. Crocodiles, iguanas and snakes await you at the Palmyra Zoo

15. The Jules Gautret cellars

It is impossible to visit Royan without tasting Charente-Maritime wine. Located in Saint-Sulpice de Royan, Maison Jules Gautret awaits you for a tasting of its best grape varieties.

Established in 1847, the jules Gautret house presents the secrets of its cellar masters during a visit to the cellars.

16. Local specialties

Last thing to do in Royan; is taste the local specialties of course. In terms of raw materials, the Charente remains rather lucky with its melons, oysters, shrimps, potatoes, truffles, and saffron. You can mix the ingredients to concoct delicious dishes.

For gourmets, the region offers succulent desserts. Taste the cornuelle, a triangle-shaped shortbread dough biscuit decorated with anise grains. The Charentaise galette will also satisfy your taste buds.

How to get to Royan?

All aboard

From Paris, Royan is accessible via the A10 motorway. It then takes 5 hours to arrive safely. Starting from Toulouse, the A62 motorway allows you to reach Royan in just 4 hours.

By train

The train remains a possibility to reach Royan. From Paris, you will have to go to Niort and then take a connection to finally reach your holiday resort. The total duration will then be 4 hours.

Where to stay in Royan?

The choices of accommodation in Royan are multiple; charming hotels, Airbnb apartments, youth hostels, or campsites. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you. With so many offers, using a hotel comparator is more than wise for the perfect place.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Royan, the best neighborhoods are by the sea, and probably the best of them is Old Royan. Located between the port, the train station, and the central market, the city center can also suit you.

Now that you know what to visit in Royan, all you have to do is prepare your luggage to go on an adventure!

Alfred

Alfred is the author behind the Travelvibe travel blog and is always searching for the quieter, less-visited corners of the world.

Recent Posts