This land of marshes, clinging to one of the smallest rivers in France, is traveled by Paths of the Seudre. These hiking trails ribbed a wetland of 10 hectares shaped by the long labor of the sea and of man.
In contact with the Seudre, on foot or by bike
The Seudre reveals on each of its banks a complex landscape drawn by the geometry of the water compartments. These old saltworks are now converted into oyster ponds where the Marennes-Oléron oysters.
On foot or by bike, the Seudre marshes reveals its secrets to those who ascend its winding corridors. They run from the mouth of the river at the Pertuis de Maumusson (facing the Ile d'Oléron) to Saujon where its course narrows and changes from salty to sweet. Of the small ports mark out theEstuary colonized by a rare fauna that it is possible to "surprise" at random along the paths.
In this downstream basin, veined with channels and canals, a hundred kilometers of marked trails available to walkers. On the left bank, a route of about 30 km connects La Tremblade to Mornac-sur-Seudre via Étaules, Arvert and Chaillevette. On the other side of the river, the paths of the Seudre descend towards the coast from Le Gua to Marennes, after stops in Nieulle-sur-Seudre and Saint-Just-Luzac.
Here is a brief overview of the course in three highlights.
The port of La Grève in La Tremblade (left bank)
It was through its quays that in the Middle Ages transited immense salt cargoes intended for European markets. The function of the site then evolved. The government of Louis XIV set up a place for storing goods there. French merchant ships come here to refuel before crossing the Atlantic to reach the royal colonies in America.
In the XNUMXth century, theoyster farming becomes the main activity. This is still the case today. Moreover, the site, laid out along a channel of a little more than 2 kilometers, bears the heritage of this old know-how which fits charmingly into its landscape. Along the river, the colorful wooden huts are notably one of the most characteristic visual features. The fishermen moor their "plates" to the pontoons which serve them. Upstream from La Tremblade, other oyster ports are to be discovered: Orivol and Les Grandes Roches in the town of Étaules or Chatressac in Chaillevette.
Mornac-sur-Seudre, one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France® (left bank)
With its roman church, Its medieval halls and its old “saintongeais” type stones, this small town of 900 inhabitants seems to belong to another time. Its port, also depository of a long oyster farming tradition, remains on a one kilometer channel which leads to the river and plunges into the fauna and flora of the marshes. A pedestrian and cycle path allows you to get there.
Three curiosities are noteworthy. A wooden firehouse and a traditional salt worker's hut have been reconstructed. On the quay there is also the building of an old water mill powered by the effect of the tides. Today, a restaurant occupies the premises. Mornac-sur-Seudre is one of the Most Beautiful Village of France® since 1982.
The Moulin des Loges in Saint-Just-Luzac (right bank)
Le Loges mill stands in a field of former salt marshes. The ocean submerged the area until the end of the first millennium. In the XNUMXth century, the watermill, gradually released by the sea, was then linked to the Seudre estuary by a network of channels and streams.
The men then judged the site suitable for the establishment of a grain mill coupled, by a wheel and a system of gears, to a reservoir which filled at each high tide. When the reservoir is emptied (at low tide), the mechanical energy triggers the movement. Abandoned for nearly a century, the building was restored in the 2000s. It now opens its doors to the public. He is one of the last working tide mills in Europe.
Many other stops punctuate the program of discovery of the paths of the Seudre. Take for example the City of the Oyster in Marennes or the vineyards of hamlet of Coulonges between Mornac and Chaillevette. The wild sites on the banks of the Seudre also show the richness of their biodiversity. We observe a living heritage, animal (harrier, stork, great egret, bluethroat passerine) and plant (glasswort, fennel, mustard, sea lavender). The entire estuary is a protected sector, listed in Natural Area of Faunistic and Floristic Environmental Interest (ZNIEFF).