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French Atlantic Coast Travel guide

Vegetation at the Dune of Pyla Herbaudière fishing port on Noirmoutier island Salt marshes on Noirmoutier island
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French Atlantic Coast : Michelin's recommendations


The French Atlantic Coast, the westernmost point on the European continent, stretches from Hendaye in the Basque Country to Le Conquet in Brittany. In addition to these two regions, the Atlantic Coast includes Aquitaine, Vendée and Charentes. Fishing and maritime trade here fostered the development of great ports, such as Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Les Sables-d’Olonne, Saint-Nazaire, Nantes and Brest. In the 19C sailors from these ports went off to fish the cod around Newfoundland and some of them settled there, in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and Acadia.
Contrary to the Côte d’Azur and Costa Brava, the diverse beaches and landscapes on the French Atlantic Coast have been well-preserved and maintained. And while the Basque Country contains few sandy beaches, it has powerful waves that have attracted surfers from around the world, especially to Biarritz!
The coast of Aquitaine is another paradise for surfers, the best spots being at Lacanau-Océan, Hossegor and Capbreton. Pines in the Landes forest, the largest in Europe, line its sandy beaches for miles, but beware of the currents! The Pilat Dune in Arcachon, the highest in Europe, is a genuine natural monument boasting a gorgeous panorama of the ocean and forest from the top.

French Atlantic Coast - See all cities and regions

French Atlantic Coast : Must-see towns and regions

  • Bordeaux

    With one of the largest protected townscapes in France (a Unesco World Heritage site), Bordeaux has been transformed by urban restoration projects. With the opening of its tramway network, the regener...

  • La Rochelle

    This is a wonderful port which has a quality of light that charmed painters, the Impressionists in particular. It is a fiercely Protestant place which, as a result, suffered a terrible siege at the ha...

  • Saint-Émilion

    If you go to St Emilion to enjoy the wine (and you most certainly will) you will realise that it is also a magnificent site, one of Aquitaine's most attractive towns with medieval buildings, small squ...

  • Cognac

    Cellars and still more cellars; the technical visits can be tiring; few towns have seen their name become as well-known as that of Cognac. Its great Houses (Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Martell) are known e...

  • Île de Ré

    The Île de Ré, also known as the "white island", stretches out for over 30km seawards just off the port of La Rochelle. The island has been linked to the mainland by a toll bridge 2 960m long since 19...

  • Arcachon

    Benefitting from its seaside location in summer, yet tucked away out of the wind in winter, the holiday resort of Arcachon is indifferent to the passing of the seasons. Lively and cultured, Arcachon i...

  • Les Sables-d'Olonne

    An important spa resort on the Lumiere coast, the town was built on an offshore sand bar and now stretches between its port with its lively quays and its long gently sloping beach of fine sand. This r...

  • Royan

    After the bombings of 1945, hardly anything of the capital of the Beautiful Coast remained...If you did not include its magnificent beaches. Today a modern town has replaced the great hotels, the vill...

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