Atlantic Coast

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Atlantic Coast
Sandwiched by Brittany to the north and the Basque country to the south, the area in this
chapter slices through three distinct regions: Pays de la Loire, around the dynamic city of
Nantes; Poitou-Charentes, spanning the history-rich university city of Poitiers to the arcaded
port of La Rochelle (and its offshore islands); and Aquitaine, spreading from its neoclassical
capital, Bordeaux.
These key cities will give you a taste of each region, but quiet country roads winding
through vine-striped hills lead to countless other treats. Among them are the charming town
of Cognac, tantamount with its double-distilled spirit; the country’s largest wine-growing
area, encompassing the Médoc’s magnificent châteaux and the golden-hued, medieval,
hilltop hamlet, St-Émilion; and the tranquil Bay of Arcachon, home to a dazzling variety of
birdlife and weathered wooden oyster shacks.
Fresh-from-the-ocean seafood proliferates on menus, of course, but the regions have their
own equally distinct traditional cuisines – from crêpes (in the north) to snails (through the
centre) and foie gras (further south), just for starters.
The regions’ exceptional wining and dining is offset by a smorgasbord of outdoor activities,
thanks to more sunshine than anywhere in France apart from the Mediterranean. Much more laidback than the Med, all along this stretch of coastline you’ll find reasonably priced beach havens
with pine-forested dunes and some world-class surf breaks, as well as myriad cycling trails.
With more packed into these regions than could possibly fit in these pages, allow yourself
time to savour spur-of-the-moment detours and new discoveries, too.


„ Glide through the emerald-green waterways

of the Marais Poitevin (p660)

„ Cycle the smooth, flat bike paths

criss-crossing the sunbaked Île de Ré (p666)

Île de Ré

Marais Poitevin

„ Hang onto your seat for a wild, cinematically

simulated ride at the futuristic theme park,
Futuroscope (p660)
„ Tour the dramatically floodlit buildings and

monuments making up the world’s largest
Unesco-listed urban area in central
Bordeaux (p672)


„ Ride a three-storey-high, 60-ton,

50-passenger mechanical elephant in
Nantes (p654)
„ POPULATION: 4,529,642

„ AREA: 51,597 SQ KM



650 AT L A N T I C C OA S T




To Le Croisic (29km)







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