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Royan is a very pleasant seaside resort on France's Atlantic Coast. In the early to mid-20th century it was a very popular, and rather chic, place - Picasso stayed there in 1939-1940, and painted the then very smart Café des Bains. Alas, on 5 January 1945 this, as well as most of central Royan (and its inhabitants), succumbed to Allied bombing (the locals don't hold it against British or Americans, for complex reasons of French politics). The centre was rebuilt in the 1950s in the then approved modernist style, which among other things meant lots of concrete - not good for a seaside location, especially when some of the contractors cut corners by using salty sand from the beach. Still, although at first sight the centre is pretty anonymous, it's quite pleasant, and once out of the immediate centre there's a surprising mix of architecture, from 1890s villas to Le Corbusier houses.
But you don't come to Royan for the architecture. Above all it's the beaches. Teenagers and twentysomethings will probably find it rather dull, but over-40s will appreciate it, and kids will think it's heaven - not so much for the main beach ( "La Grande Conche") as for the delightful little coves, perhaps Foncillon and Pontaillac, but mainly Conche du Chay et Conche du Pigionnier. All beaches are well supplied with excellent cafés. Although it's at the end of an estuary, and the water is sort of brown rather than blue and transparent, it's still lovely safe bathing territory, with cliffs that are just big enough to be challenging, while small enough to reassure mum and dad. There are also lots of rock pools for those who like investigating the smaller varieties of marine wildlife. Generally speaking, if you want a pleasant gentle seaside holiday, Royan takes some beating.
The tourist office (in French and English ) is at: http://www.ot-royan.fr/