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Le Presqu’Isle which is what they say on the road sign off the main road between La Rochelle and Rochefort. Or to give it it’s proper name Fouras les Bains.

Carralet drawn by Caroline Waterman in 1992

Back in those days, (1990’s) at the end of the Grand Plage beach, where the rocks are, there were a couple of fishing pontoons and they really enhanced the view. Unfortunately there was a big storm one winter and they were destroyed. At the same time quite a lot of damage was done to the houses along the coast but most of  these were repaired quite quickly.

Grand Plage (safe bathing area)

This is how it looks today, still very nice but without the fishing carralet.

There are 5 beaches at Fouras because it is nearly an island- a bit more climate change and it most likely will actually be one!

The most popular beach is Le Grand Plage. This is for a variety of reasons. It does have sea water 24 hours a day, ie even when the tide is out, and the beach goes out for miles here because it is more or less on the estuary. The reason for 24 hour sea water is that there is a large walled area which retains water all the time. It is not that deep, only about 1.5m and it  has a thick layer of soft mud in the deeper regions, but it does provide a place to swim and cool off whenever you want. It is also very safe for children. Another reason for it’s popularity is the proximity of restaurants and bars. There are a row of bars along the road which runs parallel to the beach from the Casino area to Fort Vauban. However you do have to pack up your stuff and trek up to them if you want a beer or a light lunch.

The Bois Vert restaurant/bar was a great attraction a few years back because it overlooked the beach and you could leave your belongings there and just walk up a few steps to get a refreshing drink or a long slow lunch. If you had children, as we did, they could return to the beach after lunch whilst Mum and Dad enjoyed a coffee and brandy and you could still keep a close eye on them. In its hey day the waiters had bright green hair and they played really good music. The Bois Vert is the name of the woods behind and around the Casino area probably so named because they are made up of Holme Oaks (Quercus ilex) which are evergreen and so the woodland remains green all year round. Recently the building that housed the Bois Vert restaurant was demolished and a new one constructed and it is now an up market chambre d’hote which claims to sell Boissons and Glace but is never open when we visit. You can tell I miss the former Bois Vert, mainly for its ambience and convenience. If you look at my Restaurant guide page you can see I also mention the Bois Vert there.

Also some years ago the Bois Vert (woodland not the bar) extended further along and there were trees between the road and the beach. These suffered in a storm some years back but were then replanted. However last year, 2011, the new trees were largely removed and the area revamped. It is now just an open space

Fortunately there are a couple of restaurants along the beach in the other direction and they are at beach level. One is open April to October and is quite reasonable and offers a good range of drinks, meals ,coffee and no doubt the after dinner brandy.

I have occasionally visited the Plage Sud. We went there last year when access to the Grand Plage was restricted due to ‘improvements’ to the paved area above the beach. Plage Sud is also very pleasant but lacks the walled in sea facility. It was from this beach that Napoleon was transported to Elba. There is a little monument to this event on the beach.

Plage Nord faces north and so to sunbathe you need to lie with your feet inland and head to the sea. This seems the wrong way round. I have never been on Plage Nord other than for an evening stroll but it does get quite a few visitors in the summer, perhaps because it is quieter.

Plage de la Vierge extends up from the Grand plage towards La Fumee and is really a series of little plages interspersed with rocky areas. It’s quiet and is backed by some very nice houses.

Plage de l’Esperance is the fifth beach and I do not know where that is.

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Fouras is my favourite beach or resort in this area, despite the demise of the old Bois Vert. The only problem with it is that it is a good hour and a half drive away from where we live. There is a solution which we did take advantage of on one occasion, (my birthday) and that is to stay the night. we stayed at a very nice hotel at the end of the Plage Nord,   Hôtel** de la Roseraie 2, rue Eric Tabarly 17450 Fouras-les-Bains
Tél. 05 46 84 64 89 Fax. 05 46 84 04 86
 I can really recomend it and my birthday is only a few weeks away ??

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