With over 100 safe, sandy beaches the Atlantic coast of Charente Maritime stretches from La Rochelle in the north to Royan in the south. La Rochelle is served by low-cost flights from Stansted, Manchester and Bristol. The ancient port of La Rochelle has the largest modern marina in Europe with over 3000 berths. The city itself has a great range of shops and restaurants and street activities, markets and musical events all year round. There is a superb marine aquarium, a fascinating maritime museum and you can take boat trips to Fort Boyard and the islands of Ré and Oléron. Plenty to do for a day out with the kids.
Rochefort has an enormous street market every Thursday and Saturday morning. The Hermione, a wooden frigate being built using traditional methods is also well worth a visit.
Catamarans and sailing boats can be hired from Fouras and the west coast of the Island of Oléron has some great surfing beaches. Fouras has a safe sandy beach with a tidal pool for swimming in when the tide has gone out.