Aside from, Fort Boyard the TV show who rocked our childhood, Charente Maritime didn’t really bring up anything particular in our minds prior to this trip. So we jumped at the opportunity when our friends Gaëlle and Michaël from Good Morning Planet invited us to come and discover their region during a small 2-day blogtrip. Before our stay, we obvisouly had in mind a region with a strong culture focused on water and seafood but we were far from imagining all its diversity. Follow the guides, we’re taking you to explore Charente Maritime!
Eurolines | [/one_half][one_half_last] Blablacar |
Skyscanner | Find a cheap flight hereUrban vibe in La Rochelle
Let’s start this tour by discovering La Rochelle, the biggest city of the department. Ideally located on the Atlantic coast, this charming city has a nice diversity of activities, monuments and most of all, good addresses, to offer. It is rather small and is therefore very easy to discover by foot, which we absolutely did. With our camera and a small foldable city map that’s available at the Tourist Office, our walk began nearby the Aquarium of La Rochelle which we deliberately avoided, in spite of its irreproachable reputation. The weather was amazing and the mild September temperatures were making us feel like summer wasn’t totally over. We decided it was best to get in search of what La Rochelle has best to offer. We took the Quai d’Honneur to bypass the pretty little port which is just in front of the aquarium and already, the magic operated. Dozens of sailboats were resting, imperturbable on a calm and shimmering water that was perfectly reflecting their brilliant colors.
We headed towards the Saint-Nicolas Tower, one of the 3 emblematic medieval towers of La Rochelle. Erected in the 14th century, it was originally used to regulate the entry of numerous merchant ships into the port of La Rochelle as well as to protect the city. Today, it offers a beautiful clear point of view on the city and the Atlantic Ocean which is quite appreciable. Getting up there isn’t simple but totally not insurmountable and you’ll have to be very careful not to lose yourself in the middle of the maze of stairs and corridors that intertwine with each other! Once up there, we thought it totally was worthwhile and we enjoyed this spectacle even more. Now back to sea level, we continued our visit of La Rochelle towards the Quai du Gabut, a high place of street art in the city. This former industrial area is today an open-air gallery where many street artists evolve and express themselves. The place is quite small, the works are therefore very concentrated and sometimes overlap. It is definitely worth going there for a tour if like us you’re a street art street art.
A little further away is the Old Harbour of La Rochelle, the nerve center of the city. It’s very lively, surrounded by many restaurants, shops and bars. There’s no doubt that you’ll find something that suits you around there to properly finish your day of explorations. We went there many times during our stay, so we saw it from different angles, and with different lights. Our favorite moment of the day to enjoy the Old Harbour undoubtedly is during sunset. The sky takes the color of the fire and the sailboats look like shadow theatre as the night is falling and the lights of the center are lighting up. It’s really gorgeous to see! And then, where can you eat well for cheap in La Rochelle? Why not go to Le Boute en Train restaurant in the city center? We were charmed by its simple and cozy decor. Its simple and delicious traditional cuisine just righly filled our stomachs. Everything was really good! Special mention to the roasted Saint Marcellin cheese with acacia honey which is to die for!
[one_third] Tour Saint Nicolas
Rue sur les Murs
Full rate : 8,5€ (9$) (ticket also valid for the Tour de la Chaîne and the Tour de la Lanterne)
Other rates [/one_third][one_third] Le Boute en train
7 rue des Bonnes Femmes[/one_third][one_third_last] Hôtel St Nicolas ***
13 rue Sardinerie / Place de la Solette
Rooms start at 94€ (98$)[/one_third_last]
Itinerary in La Rochelle
Nature vibe in the Marais Poitevin
Let’s change the scenery: now off to the marais poitevin to immerse ourselves in a more natural environment. It takes about 30 minutes by car to get to Marans, which up north from La Rochelle. This is where we were meeting with Clémentine for a small bucolic picnic on the banks of the Sèvre. She had prepared a nice assortment of local products so we could try out the local flavors, and we were not disappointed! Ostrich terrine, fresh goat cheese, rillettes of chicken, farci Charentais, there was really enough to discover new surprising flavors. The whole thing, watered as it should be by a delicious local beer called La Rieuse.
It is with our bellies full that we then headed towards the pier of Marais Plaisance, located just a few meters away. We met André, a joyful guy who welcomed us with a beautiful smile and explained to us, between 2 jokes, the route we were going to take on board of our small motor boat. The sun had decided to leave us high and dry and the afternoon was looking to be fresh. But we embarked on our boat, not lacking enthusiasm. André had prepared a nice little itinerary for us that would go though the Sèvre Niortaise and we sailed, hair to the winds and hands buried in the pockets of our coats, to the discovery of the pretty marais poitevin. The place was peaceful, uncrowded and only the sound of our engine was disrupting the predominant silence. It was pretty nice to recharge our batteries this way. We came across some fishermen and passed in turn before beautiful houses set in the middle of nowhere to end up in the heart of the small typical village of Marans.
1 route de Nantes, 17320 Marans
Every sunny day from May to Oct from 9am to 7pm
Beach vibe in Châtelaillon
For this last vibe, we will get closer to the sea. After all, it is essential to discover what the Charente has of Maritime and it is on the side of Châtelaillon-Plage that we will bury our feet in the sand and get some sea air. This lovely seaside resort has everything to please and certainly does not lack charm. It’s the perfect place to get out of the city a little and come stroll and enjoy the beautiful weather on a sunny Sunday. After struggling a bit to find a parking spot, we left our rental van and went towards the beach, delighted to have once again taken out our sunglasses. We took a leisurely stroll along the Boulevard de la Mer, which runs along the ocean. A few minutes later, we were at the entrance of Les Bains des Fleurs, a pretty crêperie located just in front of the ocean. If you’ve ever eaten in a french crêperie, you might now that it’s usually a delicious but quite simple type of cuisine. Well prepare yourself to have a very nice surprise by going to Les Bains des Fleurs!
Upon entering, we were very pleasantly surprised to see the refinement and elegance that prevail in this family-owned establishment. You’ll feel right at home but it’s elegant enough so you don’t forget that you’re in a restaurant. The decoration is simple and efficient like that. We arrived during the lunchtime rush: the restaurant was packed, delicious smells were escaping from the kitchen and the staff was in full effervescence in this beautiful room bathed in light. It seems that this is the Sunday rendezvous of of people from the city and, after having lunched there, we could easily understand why! We were set up on a nice large table and soon we started to study the restaurant menu. Among the great classics like the campagnarde (ham, egg, mushrooms) or the Norwegian (smoked salmon, fresh cream, chives, lemon), we were intrigued by some surprising unlikely such as the Berber (merguez, goat cheese, tomato, bell peppers) or the Danny (smoked pork breast and browned banana). Curious, Seb decided to opt for a Danny while Nath got tempted by the crêpe of the day (ham, scrambled eggs, potatoes, crème fraîche, paprika, chives and grapefruit) with a small green salad. Well everything was absolutely delicious! The portions are generous, the flavors are original and right and the service is impeccable for a reasonable price. For an optimal experience, we advise you to accompany your meal with a bowl of cider and finish on a delicious sweet note with a Normande (wheat crêpe with mil caramel and fried apples)!
Our discovery of Châtelaillon ends with a beautiful digestive stroll along the sea that lead us to the Sentier des Boucholeurs. After passing in front of numerous secondary residences, our walk took us in front of a small harbour at low tide dotted with a few boats. It was the first time that we saw a harbour in such conditions and it’s pretty funny to see. The sun was now playing hide-and-seek, only a few rays were filtering through the thick black clouds giving the place an incredible post-apocalyptic look. All the elements were coming together felt like we had landed on another planet. It was quite surreal and it finished the weekend the most unusual way!
This article is the result of a collaboration with Good Morning Planet and the Tourist Offices of Charente Maritime, La Rochelle, Aunis Marais Poitevin and Châtelaillon-plage. We were invited to test the different activities presented here. However, any opinion expressed here is our own and has not been subject to the influence of any third party. A big thank you to Gaëlle, Mickaël, Claire, Clémentine, Anne-Sophie and the others for your good humor and your warm welcome, we will come back!