Royan and cinema are a long story. THE royannais country has often rolled out the red carpet for artists. So, Danielle Darrieux owned the Honey-Moon villa on the Corniche de Nauzan in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. Sacha Guitry also stayed here, in the Aigue Marine villa on Boulevard Garnier in Royan. Finally, soldier Jean Moncorgé, better known under the name of Jean Gabin participated in the liberation of the Royan pocket. From the studios of Émile Couzinet to the numerous filmings, anecdotes about Royan and the 7e art is not lacking. So, sit back in your chair and grab your popcorn: Royan is at its cinema! Engine… Action!

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The studios of Émile Couzinet: the meeting between Royan and the cinema

Émile Couzinet was born in 1896, a bit like the cinema. It was in 1895 that, for the first time, spectators attended the screening of the Lumière brothers' film “Sortie d'Usine”.

Royan and cinema - Couzinet

A love of cinema will follow Émile throughout his life. At the beginning of the 30s, he became director of Royan municipal casino but its ambition is to combine Royan and cinema. He notably lives in the “Rose Rouge” villa, boulevard Garnier. He then transformed the casino warehouses (near the station) into film studios. In 1937, Royan Studios – Côte de Beauté are then the fourth in France after Paris, Nice and Marseille. They have five stages, a swimming pool and 1 amp lighting. He produced four films there until 500. And he even had the honor of filming Rin-Tin-Tin, the famous police dog! Émile is a producer, director, screenwriter, dialogue writer, distributor and exhibitor at the same time.

The 4 films from Royan Studios:

  • The Fadas Club (1939)
  • The Intrigue or “La Belle Bordelaise” (1940)
  • Andorra or “the men of Brass” (1942)
  • The Gentleman Robber (1943)

More the Second World War catches up with Royan and the projects of Émile Couzinet. Thus, the German army requisitioned the studios to serve as warehouses. No more films will ultimately be shot there. The lights go out at the Royan Studios. After the Allied bombings of 1945, Émile then shoots among the rubble what will become a documentary: “Royan, Martyred City”. The screening took place during a charity gala at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris to raise funds for the destroyed city. The help of stars like Micheline Presle and Noël-Noël made it possible to raise 500 thousand francs.

Émile Couzinet then left Royan to create the Studios Bordelais de la Côte d'Argent with which he continued his cinematographic adventure. In 1952, he returned to Pontaillac to shoot the exteriors of “When are you killed?” ". After his death in 1964, a mass was dedicated to him in Notre-Dame de Royan church.

The story between Royan and cinema continues…

The Filming Reception Office

To develop the notoriety and attractiveness of Charente-Maritime, the Departmental Council supports and develops cinematographic and audiovisual production. Thus, the department receives more and more filming for cinema or television. In 2020, the Filming Reception Office (BAT) moved to La Rochelle. In particular, he accompanies productions for the location of interior and exterior decors. It also provides lists of extras and technicians. More and more directors are coming to Charente-Maritime to benefit from the landscapes, the heritage and above all the unique light. For the first time, our department serves as the setting for a Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival with the Saintes Court in “Anatomy of a Fall” in 2023.

Royan also benefits from this tool. The seaside resort hosted the filming of the film “The Hennedricks” between May and June 2023. This road movie with Dany Boon tells the story of a family who must reconnect during a trip.

Examples of filming

There has been no shortage of meetings between Royan and the cinema over the years. Let's go back in time and take a look back at some filming for the small and big screen.

Fevers (1942)

This musical film features Tino Rossi who plays the role of a singer ending his life in a convent. The director shoots his exteriors by the sea between Royan and Saint-Georges de Didonne. THE'Abbey of Sablonceaux serves as a setting for the monastery.

Drop Point (1970)

The idol of young people, Johnny Hallyday plays a thug, Vlad “the Romanian” who kidnaps an upper-middle-class high school girl in this Robert hossein. While waiting for the ransom, the two young people will get closer... The team begins filming at the Royan high school and then continues it in a cabin on Bonne Anse Bay.

No Drowning (1987)

Inspector Molinat returns home and investigates a series of mysterious drownings in a seaside resort. This detective film takes place in Saint-palais-sur-mer. There we find big names in cinema like Philippe Noiret, Guy Marchand, Andréa Ferréol, Gabrielle Lazure and Marie Trintigant. Filming around the office beach attracts the curious and many residents can be proud of having been extras.

The Barbarian Wedding (1987)

This film is an adaptation of a novel by Yann Queffélec, Prix Goncourt in 1985. Ludovic, born from the rape of his mother by American soldiers, lives hidden in his grandparents' attic. Later, he moved into a beached boat... From the oyster huts to the squares of the Gironde estuary, the landscapes of the Royan region serve as a setting for the film. The team, who stayed at the Le Grand Chalet hotel in Ronce-les-Bains, used the Le Cristal cinema to watch filming rushes. Thierry fremont will win the César for best young male hopeful and Jean Gabin Prize for the role of Ludo.

Maigret and the judge's house (1992)

For one episode, Commissioner Maigret of Bruno cremer investigation into Judge Forlacroix, played by Michael Bouquet, and in whose house a corpse was reportedly seen… For the occasion, the Café de la Place de Chatressac in Chaillevette is renamed “Café du Port”. Cinema lover and local figure, the literature teacher from Royan high school and creator of the Royan Theater Group, Paul Ghézi, plays a small role.

Mammoth (2010)

This road movie Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern suit Gérard Depardieu in the role of Serge who travels across France on the handlebars of his Münch Mammuth. Also in the cast of this social comedy: Isabelle Adjani, Yolande Moreau, Benoît Poelvoorde… During his journey, Serge passes through the Royan Seafront and stops at Ranch, the famous nightclub.

Beach Hotel (2014)

This television series broadcast on France 2 takes place in Ronce-les-Bains and also on the beaches of platinum and Great Coast. Five families meet every summer in the seaside resort for a colorful vacation. A preview takes place in the Le Cristal cinema in the presence of Bruno Solo.

making of the beach hotel in Mornac

Murders in Pays d’Oléron (2018)

The name of this film is misleading since it mainly takes place in Mornac-sur-Seudre ! The gendarmerie captain investigates the death of an oyster farmer whose body is found in an abandoned Protestant cemetery. To do this, she works in collaboration with the forensic doctor played by Michel Cymes. Part of the cast is present during the preview in the village hall.

Our ceremonies (2023)

This first feature film by Simon Rieth shot around Royan between May and June 2021 is selected at Critics’ Week at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. This fantastic drama tells the story of two brothers who return to Royan, jeopardizing their secret...

Sources: Citizen Couzinet by Françoise Mamolar – éditions Bonne Anse /


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