If you don’t want to travel as far as the south, or want to try somewhere different, head for Western France which likes to boast it has just as many sunshine hours. You’ll get more for your money than the swanky Cote d’Azur, a sweeping Atlantic coastline and a relaxed family friendly atmosphere; basically it’s a wonderful holiday destination. Inland there’s lovely countryside plus a rich history to be discovered and of course superb local food and wine plus a great selection of self-catering holiday villas.
The Poitou-Charentes starts just north of La Rochelle and finishes at the Gironde Estuary north of Bordeaux. Being the second sunniest department in France and with its own micro-climate it can often be a couple of degrees warmer than its northern neighbours. Get away from the coast and the countryside is mainly rural with woodland and those signature fields of maize and sunflowers. La Rochelle is very popular with visitors with a wonderful collection of Renaissance and Medieval history notably the famous 14th century Saint-Nicholas Tower. The low lying Ile de Re is exquisite with dunes, pine forests, chic towns and harbour villages, long golden beaches and cycle paths, the Ile d’Oleron is just as delightful. Saintes and Royan are also popular as well as Rochefort which is a great day out, an old Naval Town with a rich maritime history.
The Vendee, named after the river flowing through the south east of this department, is truly spoilt with a coastline of over 90 miles of golden sandy beaches, the main reason most people visit. Sunny days are virtually guaranteed and the sea benefits from the influence of the warm Gulf Stream which is always a plus! The area also conjures up images of castles and ancient buildings, history and culture buffs can choose from 18 Medieval castles, 27 Renaissance castles and 8 castles dating back to the 17th and 18th century. There are many well-known coastal resorts to choose from such as Noirmoutier, and hidden gems like Saint-Jean-de-Monts, St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, Les Sables d’Olonne, Longeville-sur-Mer and La Tranche-sur-Mer. The food and drink is delightful and you will soon be joining queues at small stalls selling fresh mussels and oysters.
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