Water parks and swimming in Charente Maritime

We are well served here in the Charente Maritime for fun filled water parks. From babies and toddlers to teens, every child loves the water. Our own two have always been more than happy to jump into a freezing puddle in winter or an unheated pool in autumn never mind a heated pool with water slides in mid summer !

Our two closest water parks/swimming centres are Atlantys in Saint Jean d’Angely (10 mins drive) and Nautilus in Angouleme (40 mins drive) and les Iles de Jonzac, (60mins)  and a little further afield we have Ileo on the Ile d’Oleron (1hr15)

We are regular visitors to Atlantys as it is so close and being all indoors it’s good all through the year. Nautilus is more of a summer day out as much of the really fun stuff is outdoors so you need a nice hot day. We havn’t tried Les Iles de Jonzac or Ileo but they’ve got good trip advisor reviews.

Atlantys swimming centre

We’ve been swimming at Atlantys since the children were babies; On Saturday mornings (10-12) outside school holidays (so September to end June) the pool is exclusively open for the under 4’s, the temperature is turned up, change mats and pottys are supplied by the pool and the pool is filled with balls, floats, mats, climbing frames and all manner of fun stuff for little ones – I went every week with my two when they were toddlers, this is where they learnt to swim at such a young age. Volunteers give advice on how to get your toddlers confident in the water.

In summer holidays it is open every day. The doors open up into a sunbathing area and play area for the little ones. There’s also a café for snacks.  There’s no time limit on how long you stay. Clean changing rooms, lockers (need a 2€ coin- refunded after) toilets and showers. Be warned – men and boys (even toddlers) MUST wear tight fitting swimwear – no loose swim shorts allowed and this is enforced. Suitable swimwear can be purchased from a vending machine inside but may be cheaper to buy them beforehand.

The Atlantys swimming pool center is just next to the Saint Jean d’Angely park, so you can easily spend the day here.

Nautilus water park

We first visited Nautilus water park when the children were little. It wasn’t a great day out, in fact we only stayed about an hour. There was a shallow toddler area but most of the ‘fun’ was outside with rapids, and huge water slides with big teenagers running around. If you’ve got little kids we’d recommend Atlantys instead or we have heard that the Iles de Jonzac is great for younger children and has more facilities than Atlantys with a wave pool too.

 

 

 

 

 

We next went when the children were much older and good swimmers and we were able to let them run around freely whilst we relaxed on a sunbed – It was our kids that were the big kids now ! They loved it. The slide is huge, theres an outdoor water slide with about 5 lanes and you wizz down really fast then the wave pool is always fun for everyone and the rapids are fun too but if your kids are a bit younger / smaller then go on with them as the teens can be a bit excitable in pushing past.

There’s loads of parking, clean secure changing rooms with lockers and of course toilets. There’s a restaurant and a snack bar and an ice skating rink too open every afternoon from 3pm in summer (July/August) The pools are open every day from 10am in July and August. Again tight fitting swimmers must be worn.

Other swimming options

Of course you don’t really need to leave ‘home’ to enjoy the water experience. Both our family friendly holiday sites have heated pools. At La Grange du Moulin our main pool (10mx5m) is heated to 28c and the toddler pool (4m diameter and 60 cm deep) is heated to 30c. The toddler pool is filled with floats and watering cans and is shaded from the heat of the day too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also have a hot tub at La Grange du Moulin, in it’s own secure area Mum and Dad can relax at the end of the day after the children are in bed and watch the stars with a ‘glass’ (plastic champagne flutes are provided !) in 38c and massage jets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Les Vallaies holiday cottages the heated pool has a sloping beach entrance which starts at 15cm so ideal for toddlers and young children to paddle in. There’s also a bubble pool.

Just a 30 min drive from our holiday cottages is Les Gours plan d’eau. A swimming lake with a sandy beach, café bar, life guard and playground. An ideal swimming place if you don’t fancy driving to the ‘real’ beach

The Charente Maritime also has hundreds of miles of sandy beaches. for sea swimming and fun. Even in peak season you’ll be able to find a beach that’s not crowded. The mainland beaches have shallow gently sloping beaches, so great for families; the islands on the Atlantic side have rougher waters, great for older children who love waves.

 

Whatever your swimming preferences there’s something for everyone when staying with us at our family holiday cottages La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies

Content by Wendy Blakeman

 

 

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Beaches along the Charente Maritime coast

The Charente Maritime department on the west coast of France boasts the second most sunshine hours after the south coast and has literally hundreds of miles of coast and safe, sandy beaches and they are all just an easy hours drive away from our family holiday accommodation (and please note that this is a driving time within the speed limits !) There are safe sandy beaches all along the coast from La Rochelle down to Royan and beyond but we shall just be mentioning the ones you can easily get to for a day out when staying with us.

Child-Friendly-Beaches

The islands of Oleron and Ré are very popular for their beaches. They take slightly longer to get to particularly in summer as traffic over the bridge – particularly to Ile de Oleron, can be quite heavy. Top tip – go early ! The Ile d’Oleron is linked to the mainland by a road bridge, so you can easily visit the island and enjoy the beaches, the fishing or the forest. The three main towns of Saint –Pierre, Saint – Denis and to the south Le Chateau are definitely worth exploring. There are also two forests the Forest of Saint- Trojan and the Saumonard Forest which are both attractive to visit and being on the east side have more sheltered beaches suitable for the younger families staying at our child friendly holiday cottages, La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies. The Oyster farms provide the main source of income to the island and are a tourist attraction in themselves (Read about Gillardeau oysters in our blog) There are numerous footpaths in the forest where you can explore or a favourite with children – Le Petit Train Touristique Forestier which will take you along the dunes and the beaches and through the forest. we-were-here

To visit the Ile de Ré requires you to pay a toll over the bridge. This makes it a much more peaceful and slightly less touristy island to visit. It has a wide variety of flora and fauna and boasts more than one wildlife park. St Martin de Ré is a beautiful small town – a mini La Rochelle with its port, restaurants and pretty shops. At the end of the island is the Phare Des Baleines is one of the tallest lighthouses in France (55 meters) and has 250 steps to the top, where you have a great view of the mainland and the islands salt marshes. The island’s still produces around 2,000 tons of salt every year. The islands also boasts some fine churches and well preserved fortifications from the Middle Ages.

The Ile de Ré is a wonderful place to hire a bike (and tag along or child seats too) and take a leisurely cycle along the quiet cycle tracks and lanes. The whole island is set up for cycling with lots of places to hire bikes and lots of cycle routes. To visit the Ile de Ré requires you to pay a toll over the bridge. This makes it a much more peaceful and slightly less touristy island to visit. It has a wide variety of flora and fauna and boasts more than one wildlife park.

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The Il de Ré has no shortage of beaches; the inland side tends to be more sheltered whilst the Atlantic side enjoys some great body boarding waves. Le-Bois-Plage-en-Ré , Plage des Gollandières and La Plage de la Conche are just a few choice and popular beaches.

 

 

 

Chatelaillon de la plage just south of La Rochelle is a popular place for its beaches and probably one of the closest. In summer it has a fun fair starting every afternoon, plenty of restaurants, bouncy castles on the beach, sunbeds to hire and always lots of activities going on for the children. You could spend a morning and lunch in La Rochelle then head down to Chatelaillon de la plage for a couple of hours on the beach.

Fouras1The peninsula of Fouras stretches from Yves Bay to the Charente River. It is also historically interesting and has long been a heavily, fortified area. Originally the fortifcations were needed to fight off the Normans and then the British. Nowadays, the only invaders at Fouras are tourists ! There is a great view from the fort, along the coast to La Rochelle and across to the islands of Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oleron.

Just south of Royan on the coast road  to Meschers are some lovely beaches. At Meschers you’ll find the famous ‘Grottes’ well worth a visit but be warned there are lots and lots of steps ! The beaches south of Royan are far less touristy with fewer facilities but quieter and also because of the cliffs along that area of coast, there is some shade, large caves to explore and rock pools, ideal for when the tide goes out.

La Palmyre coast line north of Royan and of course Royan itself also have some excellent beaches lined with pine forests. At la Palmyre (just past the La Palmyre animal park) Dunes have been man made to provide salt water lakes, so when the tide is out
(it goes out along way) there is still water for the children to swim in and the adults to cool down in.

280908 027We have the local high and low tides listed on our noticeboard so you can plan the best time to visit the beach but be warned it really is very very busy in summer in the afternoon so unless you want to be stuck in a traffic jam looking for a parking space you really are better going first thing in the morning. After a fun filled, hot sandy day at the beach you’ll be glad to get back to the peace and tranquility of our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime department of France.

 

 

google+By Wendy Blakeman

For great family friendly holiday cottages, gites and villas visit us at La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies or French gites and Villas

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