Royan - Encyclopedia

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ROYAN, a town of W. France, in the department of Charente Inferieure, on the right bank of the Gironde, at its mouth 63 m. below and N.N.W. of Bordeaux. Pop. (1906) 7142. Royan is one of the most frequented bathing resorts on the Atlantic seaboard. The coast is divided into a number of small bays or "conches," forming so many distinct beaches: to the E. of the town is the "Grande Conche" with the municipal casino; to the S. the "Conche de Foncillon," separated from the first-named by a quay which forms a fine terraced esplanade; beyond the fort of Royan follow in succession the conches "du Chay" and "de Robinson," and the most fashionable of all, that of Pontaillac. The port carries on sardine-fishing and an active coasting trade, but the harbour at high tide is accessible only to vessels drawing from 8 to io ft., and at low water is dry. Eugene Pelletan, the author, has a statue in the town, of which he was a benefactor. The lighthouse of Cordouan, 200 ft. in height, rebuilt on the site of an older tower by the architect Louis de Foix in1584-1610and added to about the end of the 18th century, stands on a rock 72 m. W.S.W. of Royan.

Royan after passing through many hands came to the family of la Tremoille, in whose favour it was made first a marquisate and then a duchy. During the first half of the 15th century it was held by the English. During the wars of religion it was a centre of Calvinism and had to sustain in 1622 an eight days' siege by the troops of Louis XIII. As late as the end of the 18th century it was but a "Bourg" of about one thousand inhabitants, noticeable only for its priory, where Brantome wrote a portion of his Chronicles. The prosperity of the place dates from the Restoration, when steamboat communication was established with Bordeaux.

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