Coastal Charente-Maritime, part of the Poitou-Charentes administrative region, is the second largest and the most populated department in the region with a land area of 6864 km² and around 600,000 inhabitants.
The important rivers are the Charente and its tributaries, the Boutonne and the Seugne, along with the Sèvre Niortaise, the Seudre, and the Garonne, which is the estuary of the Gironde.
© Charente-Maritime tourism
The department includes the islands of Île de Ré, Île d'Aix, and Ile d'Oléron, and forms the northern part of the Aquitaine basin, separated from the Massif Armoricain by the Marais Poitevin to the north-west and from the Parisian basin by the Seuil du Poitou to the north-east. Charente is surrounded by the departments of Gironde, Charente, Deux-Sèvres, Dordogne and Vendée.
But there is more than coastline to Charente, which also includes the regions known as Jonzac, Saintonge Romane, centred on Saintes, the Vals de Saintonge around St Jean d'Angély, and Aunis in the north.
The extent of the departments coastline makes this a popular destination in summer months, not just for the sunshine and sea air, but for the excellent seafood on offer, especially the oyster production that goes on at Marennes-Oléron, where the 'done thing' is to praise their oysters above those from the Etang de Thau.
Boulevard de la République 17 076 La Rochelle.
Tel: 05 46 31 71 71