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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

Wide stretch of sandy beach by the ocean on the Atlantic

The Best Beaches to visit near La Rochelle

Ready to discover the best beaches in La Rochelle and the surrounding areas?

Living as I do in the Poitou Charente the nearest beaches to us are in and around La Rochelle, situated in the Charente Maritime.

Here you’ll find some of the best beaches in Europe with over 100 miles of coastline to choose from.

There are so many incredible beaches with something for everyone.

Whether it’s a coastal walk along the cliffs or sunbathing with a view of the ocean, there is lots of choice.

It’s one of my favourite places to go for a long weekend. It takes us just under two hours to get there so not too far at all. Out of season our dog Lottie has a wonderful time running in and out of the ocean.

It’s so much fun watching her play with the waves and race up and down the beach.

A beach with people swimming in the sea and lying on the sand

The closest beaches to La Rochelle

La Rochelle has three main beaches: Plage de la Concurrence, Plage Chef de Baie, and Plage des Minimes.

Each beach offers a unique experience and a range of activities, making them must-visit destinations for tourists visiting La Rochelle.

Plage de la Concurrence

This iconic beach is located in the heart of La Rochelle and is known for its stunning views of the Old Port and Fort Boyard Island.

It’s a popular destination for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking, and also features a range of water sports, including windsurfing and kitesurfing.

The beach used to be owned by two powerful families from the region who were competing against each other to offer the best beach experience.

This is where the beach got its name as it literally means competition.

Plage Chef de Baie

This beach is a short drive from La Rochelle and is known for its stunning views of the surrounding coastline.

There’s a great clifftop walk that starts from here too. It’s a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. It’s also a great place for families with young children, as the waters are shallow and safe.

And there is a lifeguard on duty during the main season. You’ll find a good range of restaurants, cafes, and bars as well.

Plage des Minimes

This large white sandy beach mixed with small pebbles and stones is walking distance from La Rochelle.

Its name translates as ‘the smaller beach’ and is another popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. With its rocky shore you’ll also find people fishing and scuba diving.

There are some great seafood restaurants here and it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.

White Sandy beachs at Île de Ré in the Charente Maritime

The best beaches in Île de Ré

Île de Ré has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful islands in France with 100 kms of coastline and still relatively untouched.

The south of the island offers more sandy beaches whilst the north has the ports.

It’s connected to the mainland by a bridge so is easily accessible from La Rochelle.

La Conche Beach

Stretching for nearly 3 kms it’s the largest beach on the island starting from the whale lighthouse in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines to Lizay in Les Portes-en-Ré.

It really is beautiful and has quite calm waters which make it perfect for swimming. It’s surrounded by dunes and of course the Lizay forest so it has a sort of wild and unkempt feel about it which is so appealing.

La Trousse-Chemise Beach

Located in Portes-en-Ré the beach has a sandbar (du bûcheron) which can be accessed in low tide and is worth taking a walk along.

Apparently the French singer Charles Aznavour was so taken with it that he dedicated one of his songs to it. You’ve gotta love a bit of trivia.

Gros Joncs Beach

This beach is a hive of activity and is popular with families with its sailing club and children’s club.

Positioned in the south of the island in Blois-Plage-en-Ré it has the ‘Blue Flag’ (Pavillon Bleu) label, which means it’s environmentally friendly with safe and clean waters.

Grenettes Beach

Perfect for surfers as the ocean is a little rougher here with some good waves it’s in the South East of the island in Sainte-Marie-de-Ré.

You might also spot some kites as the conditions are good for flying a kite.

La Grange Beach

If it’s fishing you’re after then this is the beach for you in the south of the island at Ars-en-Ré. Due to the amount of rocks here you can only swim at high tide because at low tide the sea goes a long way out leaving only rocks.

However, it’s perfect for foot fishing and looking for clams.

For more information on Île de Ré visit the tourism website >>>

The best beaches in Île d'Oléron

Deserted beach on the Atlantic Ocean near La Rochelle

Known as the island of light (La Lumineuse) it has an abundance of unspoilt beaches many of which have the Blue Flag awarded.

The high quality of water makes them perfect for swimming, so a great option for the younger members of the family. It’s about a 50 minute drive from La Rochelle.

If I had to pick a couple to mention it would be Plage de la Remigiasse and the Grand-Village-Plage. They tend to be the most popular spots as they’re family friendly with good parking.

The Chassiron lighthouse is worth highlighting as the rock sculptures on the beach are fantastic and it’s a lovely walk around the lighthouse itself and the gardens.

They offer guided tours and it’s worth climbing the 224 steps to get the 360° views. For more information on pricing and opening hours visit the Chassiron Lighthouse Website

Conclusion: Best beaches in La Rochelle

Sitting as it does on the beautiful French Atlantic coast La Rochelle is spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches.

There really is something for everyone.

And with the islands ofÎle d’Oléron and Île de Ré it’s a paradise of beautiful sandy beaches and sparkling blue ocean.

Click here for the best places to visit for a weekend in Île d’Oléron >>>


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About Me

I’m Kylie….

And I live in the beautiful Charente region of France having made the move back in 2016, and I’ve never looked back.

Now, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned about living in rural France. From visiting wineries & chateaux to negotiating French admin and learning the language.


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