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Charente-Maritime

With its Atlantic coastline, pretty seaside villages and unspoilt islands, the Charente-Maritime has been a long time favourite with those seeking sun, sea and sand. But travel inland and the Romanesque architecture, cognac producing vineyards and gallo-roman remains will capture your imagination. Find out more about the attractions in the Charente-Maritime here.

We have gathered a number of our favourite features on the Charente-Maritime below...

 

Visit Mornac-sur-Seudre - a jewel in Charente-Maritime

Visit Mornac-sur-Seudre - a jewel in Charente-Maritime

The medieval village of Mornac-sur-Seudre needs no second chance to make a good first impression. White painted houses, masses of hollyhocks and narrow inviting streets leading away from the impressive 14th century market place live up to their promise - you stop at almost every step towards the harbour to take in the surroundings.

mornac

Located on the Avert Peninsular between the Gironde estuary and the left bank of the River Seudre, on a site occupied since Neolithic times, this tranquil village is dubbed the 'Pearl of the Salt Marshes'. It was besieged in 1433 during the Hundred Years War, badly damaged during the Wars of Religion, when protestant mercenaries took control, and was then an embarkation port for exiles bound for America.

The church of Saint Pierre, with its fortified bell tower and unusual elliptical base, provides an opportunity for a bird's eye view of the typically circular Middle Ages layout. It'll take time for you to leave the church, as the paintings, Romanesque columns, sculptures and clam-shell shaped fonts all invite closer inspection. Follow Rue du Port as it curves down to the square on the old Port, bringing the harbour into view. Here, artists, potters and assorted craft workers in the cottages on each side will lure you with their tempting creations. The shop Nougatine sells the local speciality 'Bois Casse', a flavour-packed nougat that becomes brittle in the mouth, allowing indulgence without dental damage. A little further down, La Bonne Tarte is famous for its mouth-watering fruit and savoury tarts.

Small boars and ducks pepper the little harbour that was once a prosperous port. Salt used to be exported, and boat traffic between La Rochelle and Bordeaux regularly stopped here. The sea watermill is now a creperie, and other restaurants, where ocean bound cargo was once stored, invite you to sit at an outside table. It's impossible not to linger over your last glass and drain every drop of the cocktail of sea, land and sky that meets the eye. A wooden frame block-and-tackle and an ancient boiling pot stand on the quay as a reminder of how things used to be. They were once used to prepare the oil and ochre mix to treat sailing boats' linen sails; in fact, they are still used today by the village's Association Seudre et Mer, which has restored two traditional wooden sailing boats and maintains olden day maritime traditions. The Musee Ferroviaire de Mornac-sur-Seudre in the old railway station records the increase in rail transport early in the last century to meet the demand of the growing oyster trade. Today, oysters are still the mainstay of life on the salt marshes that make up two-thirds of the village.

Head into the marsh- the 'Seudre Swamp' - along the pedestrian paths (Taillees Pietonnes) running along the dykes formerly used for salt production, and you'll find ancient huts once used by salt gatherers. These pools were then converted into oyster 'claires’, ponds cut out of the mud where today's oysters are reared. An alternative to walking is provided by Captain Freda, who offers various excursions from the quay in his boat L'Aigrette. Repeat visits to Mornac-sur-Seudre will never disappoint you. Different light gives different effects and the port is constantly changing as the effortless blending of land into water at high tide changes to expose the glistening mud seam as the water ebbs away. Time and tide may wait for no man, but in this peaceful corner of Charente-Maritime there are many rewards if man will wait a while for tide and time.

Words by Ron Cousins. First published in Living Poitou-Charentes magazine.

Photo: Pays Royannais

 

Mornac-sur-Seudre address book

Office de Tourisme, 46 place du Port. +33 (0)5 46 22 61 68

www.tourisme.fr/office-de-tourisme/mornac-sur-seudre.htm

La Bonne Tarte, 30 rue du Port, +33 (0)5 46 22 75 24

Nougatine, 40 rue du Port, +33 (0)5 46 23 47 99

Restaurant Le Marais, 35 rue du Port, +33 (0)5 46 22 16 78,

www.restaurant-le-marais.com

Le Cafe des Arts, 21 rue du Port, +33 (0)5 46 06 40 43

Le Moulin Creperie, 41 rue du Port, +33 (0}5 46 05 59 36

Les Basses Amarres, 5 rue Basses Amarres, +33 (0)5 46 22 63 31

Church of Saint Pierre: +33 (0)5 46 23 03 96

Musee Ferroviaire de Mornac-sur-Seudre, 1 rue du Grimeau, + 33 (0)5 46 05 54 08

Captain Fredo (Frederic Llaguno), 48 rue du Port, +33 (0)6 08 52 51 29,

www.promenadesenseudre.com

l'Association Seudre et Mer: +33 (0)5 46 22 72 42

 

 First published in Living Poitou-Charentes © All rights reserved