Little Boats Of The Atlantic Coast
This brand-new holiday explores one of France’s most popular regions - the laid-back Atlantic Coast. Staying in the heart of the historic seafaring town of La Rochelle, you can step out of your hotel to explore its rich maritime past and significance as one of France’s most important ports which is visible in its grand arcades, turrets and timber-framed houses. There is so much to discover in the Charente-Maritime region of France from the atmospheric Roman city of Saintes to the option of a visit to Ile de Ré with its unhurried atmosphere and villages of green-shuttered, whitewashed buildings; from the salt marshes of Sables d’Olonne to a gentle cruise on the Charente River.
NB This tour requires a reasonable amount of walking and access to some boat rides may be unsuitable for those with mobility issues.
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
DAY 1 – After joining your holiday coach, head to Dover for the ferry crossing to Calais. Continue through France to your overnight hotel in the Orleans area. Bed & breakfast.
DAY 2 - After breakfast, your journey continues southwards calling at Blois, an utterly charming royal town, full of cobbled streets, paved squares, cafes and restaurants plus the gothic Cathedral, towering over the old town and the historic Château Royal de Blois, former palace and home to several French kings and queens. Continue on to check into the 4* Novotel La Rochelle Centre, your base for the next 5 nights. Welcome drink and porterage on arrival. NB a set dinner is included in the hotel on the first and last night of your stay. The remaining 3 nights are on a bed & breakfast basis to allow you to explore the town and enjoy the local cuisine on your own. DBB for 2 nights, BB for 3 nights.
DAY 3– 6 At leisure in La Rochelle with three included excursions and one optional excursion.
Known as ‘La Ville Blanche’ (the White City), La Rochelle is a wonderful blend of pale limestone, warm light and sea air, so it is worth taking time to explore the historic centre and waterfront. The Vieux Port is ta the heart of the town and you can take a pleasant stroll from here along the seafront in either direction.
La Rochelle to Fort Boyard (with local guide)
This morning a local guide shows you the best of La Rochelle with its stunning, old harbour with its two monumental towers (St Nicolas Tower and the Tower of the Chain) either side of the port entrance through which boats come and go. A third tower, the ‘Tower of the Lantern’ is connected to the Chain Tower by a section of the ramparts that originally defended the town. The old town, just behind the harbour, is very well preserved, dating mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. You will board a comfortable boat trip (toilets and kiosk on board) for a circular 2-hour trip out into the bay for wonderful views of the Atlantic coastline and the islands of Ré, Oléron and Aix. The boat circles the Napoleonic Fort Boyard, constructed to protect the estuary of the Charente River, before heading back to La Rochelle. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Sables d’Olonne & the Salt Marches (with local guide)
Head along the coast into the Vendée to the popular seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne with its 3-kilometre long beach and bustling seafront promenade. The area surrounding Les Sables d’Olonne is made of 1400 hectares of salt-water marshes, framed by forests of maritime pines and evergreen oaks. An area of outstanding natural beauty, several salt marshes are still in operation today. An included boat trip on the salt river takes you past the heritage sites of the ‘Land of Salt’ to give you an insight into the work that is carried out here. There will also be a tasting opportunity.
Saintes & the Charente River (with local guide)
Saintes is a history lover’s dream. Once the Roman capital of Aquitaine, its past is still evident with its soul-stirring fragments of sculpture and stonework, Gallo-Roman Amphitheatre and the remains of the 2000-year-old Arc de Germanicus. There is plenty to explore in the old town centre plus some lovely individual boutiques worthy of the most discerning shopper. There is a daily Farmers’ Market (except Monday) – the perfect place to sample local delicacies. Board the ‘Bernard Palissy III’, a modern electro-solar boat for a relaxing and peaceful cruise (90 mins) along the Charente River to Pont d’Envaux. There is a sun deck plus lower lounge area with bar and toilets. Your coach will be waiting in Pont d’Envaux to take you back to La Rochelle.
Ile de Ré
Cross the remarkable Ile de Ré bridge which is nearly 3km long to one of the most delightful places on France's west coast. The Ile de Ré spans 30km from its most easterly and westerly points and just 5km at its widest section. The main town of the island is St-Martin-de-Ré, a quaint fishing port.
DAY 8 - Today it's adieu to La Rochelle as you head north to your final overnight stop just south of Orléans on the River Loire. Make a stop in Tours, the charming capital of the Loire Valley. Tours is full of medieval charm and heritage with its narrow-cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. Overnight with bed & breakfast.
DAY 9 – After breakfast, we continue through France to Calais for your return to EnglandBack to top
NOVOTEL LA ROCHELLE CENTRE
The 4* Novotel enjoys a peaceful setting next to one of the La Rochelle’s main parks (Charruyer) about 10 – 15 minutes’ walk from the centre and the Vieux Port, making it an excellent base from which to explore the town. There is an outdoor swimming pool (heated in the main season) and terrace plus a restaurant offering regional cuisine and a relaxing open-plan bar. Guestrooms are spacious and contemporary with all mod cons including tea / coffee making facilities, WiFi and air-conditioning. There is a lift.