The reason most people choose to holiday in Royan is undoubtedly the beaches.
La Grande Conche
At Royan itself the main beach is La Grande Conche which is a wide sandy cove that stretches south from the town for about 2 kilometres. This beach has good services and at busy periods has lifeguard surveillance making it ideal for kids indeed there is an section especially for children with a variety of beach activities . There are also some areas reserved for windsurfing, sailing etc and facilities to hire equipment or take lessons. There is lots of free parking along the promenade and in some of the side streets leading away from the beach. However during August the beach becomes very busy and finding parking can be a real problem particularly in the early afternoon.
In addition to the beach itself the promenade along La Grande Conche offers a wonderful panorama over the sea with a paved footpath that passes under carefully grown trees (great shade in the height of the summer!) and a separate cycle path. This beach is a great place to visit at anytime of year - beachcombing in shorts and t-shirt for sunny days in early autumn; watching, or perhaps joining in with windsurfing, sand yachting or sea fishing at any time. Even wild winter days bring the spectacle of the Atlantic Ocean in more furious mood.
You could have a very enjoyable holiday just visiting La Grande Conche but you would miss out on some of the nearby but less well known (and less visited) beautiful small sandy coves and magnificent wild beaches if you did!
To the north of the town, on the coast between Royan and St Palais sur Mer there is a series of much smaller sandy coves. They are all easily reached from the coastal road although parking can be tricky during August. Alternatively there is a footpath/cyclepath that runs all the way along the coast - so you can start from Royan and take a dip in the sea at each beach (its about 10 kilometres from Royan to St Palais) plus the opportunity for lunch at various restaurants along the way.
The wildness of La Grande Côte and beyond
Northwards, beyond St Palais, the beach becomes more open with little in the way of facilities although there is good formal (free!) parking at La Grande Côte Village and in the pine forests along the D25 coast road.
These beaches run for about 10 kilometres up to Ronce Les Bains and are perhaps the most dramatic in the region.
A walk down to the wide expanse of beach at the Cote Sauvage through the fragrant forest of Holm Oaks and Parasol Pines stays in the mind forever. The climb over the sand dunes earns the reward of great beaches which are fantastic whatever the weather or time of year. You can expect to find a few fellow sunseekers, wind surfers, beach fishermen or sand yachts but should easily find your own space. Please note there can be strong tidal currents and care needs to be taken especially with young children.
The Guide has descriptions and details of location, parking and nearby facilities of these and many other beaches at and near Royan.