Côte Sauvage, which translates as “wild side” in English, and known as the “wild coast” of Brittany, is a stretch of untamed beauty in the Charente-Maritime department on the Atlantic seaboard of France. Rocky cliffs, dramatic seascapes, sandy beaches and thumping waves are set against a backdrop of towering pine forests. And in the middle of it all, the Arche de Port Blanc – a dramatic arch in the rocks formed, over time, by sea erosion.
It’s little wonder that Dominic Earle, editor of France: Time Out’s Perfect Places has labelled Côte Sauvage as France’s best wild beach. As he puts it, “the gloriously unspoilt Côte Sauvage is hemmed in by the towering pines of the Forêt de la Coubre. It’s only accessible by a good 10-minute hike [or bike] from the D25 between Ronce-les-Bains and La Palmyre. After a slog up the dunes and through the coarse beach grass, the reward is 30km of unadulterated white sand and Atlantic rollers. There’s not a beach umbrella or souvenir shop in sight.”
This stretch of coast also frequently sits atop lists of France’s most scenic roads. Take a drive on the wild side to see why.
Start near La Palmyre, north of Royan, and take the D25 towards Ronce-les-Bains. This scenic route, about 20 kilometres long, take you from the coast through the forest, la Forêt de la Coubre, a huge pine and green oak forest planted in the 19th century to stop erosion.
If you have the time, stop in at La Tremblade: a picturesque oyster-farming village where you can taste freshly caught oysters or dine on mussels baked under pine needles, a local speciality. Insider tip: pair your mussels with a side of cider. When in Rome… or Côte Sauvage as the case may be.
Finally, whatever you do, post-indulgence, do make time for a walk on one of the most unspoilt beaches left on this good earth.