My favourite beach on the Ile d'Oléron
We've been on holiday on the Ile d'Oléron for a few days and the children haven't yet quite worked out what it is they're looking at! Fort Boyard, venue for the adventure game broadcast in 31 countries, is just off the coast and can be seen from the Saumonards beach at Boyardville.
Fort Boyard from Saumonards Beach
Access to the beach is easy, and we park in the shade of some beautiful old pine trees. We could also have come by bike, as there's a well-kept cycle path through the forest. There's a little pathway across the dunes, and here we are on the beach.
The receptionist at the campsite wasn't fibbing - the Saumonards plage is beautiful! Dunes, forest and sand as far as the eye can see... The lifeguard station means it's perfect for a family outing! While my husband tries to carry parasol, icebox, surfboards, picnic, dinghy, towels and bag, the children run to the water, while I settle down with a lovely view of the lifeguard. As the children run into the water they suddenly stop - it's finally clicked! They recognise Fort Boyard, the majestic stone fortress surrounded by water - from the telly. Seeing it on TV is one thing, but seeing it in real life is quite another, two hundred feet long; a hundred wide and 70 feet high. Visited by such totally current stars such as Frank Bruno, Sharon Davies and the late Leslie Grantham off of East Enders, the fort has also seen people from lots of different countries famous some time ago make a brief return to TV for charity.
A magnificent panorama of Fort Boyard
While the children build a mini Fort Boyard in the sand, I settle back with my book.
The sea is beautiful and calm and while their father is swimming in the distance, the children tell him to try and swim all the way to the fort - if only. Ideal time for a little reading and relaxing in the sun. Although the lifeguard is supposed to be monitoring the beach, I'm pleased to see he's not looking at the sea much, so I make sure the children don't go too far, especially since there's a nudist beach a little further along! I see my husband has come back to shore up there.
Between two swims the children tell me they can see the old Games Master character in the tower of the fort. It's 2 kilometres from the coast, so unless they have particularly good eyesight, I doubt that. I suggest a snack and we ll get an ice cream at Boyardville Marina. Chocolate, butter caramel or violet and lemon meringue - what a treat!
We'll come back tomorrow to take the boat trip around the fort - like a band of brigands taking it by surprise!
We watch one of the boats returning to the port, and seeing the smiles on the faces aboard, we make up our minds to come back tomorrow for the boat trip around the fort - like a band of brigands taking it by surprise! In the meantime, we visit the Fort des Saumonards, which dates back to the 17th century and has more recently been used to host summer camps.
No doubt we'll return during our week's camping holiday, certainly for a picnic on the beach, facing the sunset, to admire the beautiful colours of the wonderful Ile d'Oléron
Pleasure trips approach Fort Boyard as close as possible
Picnic on the beach in the late evening
Supervised beach, ideal for children