Since the 11 March 2022, 2 sections of the coastal path – between the Belvédère car park and the square Geneviève Nappée and between the avenue des Pierrières and the Gaboriau footbridge (including the Pont du Diable staircase) – are closed to the public due to erosion, by municipal decree.

À Saint-palais-sur-mer, the Sentier des Douaniers, its real name Sentier des Pierrières, is an essential passage for walks by the sea.

Discovering the customs officers’ trail In Saint-Palais

Ce landscaped footpath meanders on 3,5 km along the coast between the conche du Bureau and the Grande Côte beach. The promenade offers beautiful viewpoints and many surprises. For example, Belle Époque villas, squares, the alley of leaning oaks (or more commonly alley of holm oaks) without counting some geological curiosities whose legends are constantly told.

Its current name is due to the presence of a Customs office built in 1840. Its purpose was to monitor the coast and prevent smuggling. The latter was recently rehabilitated by the Community of Agglomeration Royan Atlantique. The place, renamed Customs House, is now dedicated to culture and the arts. Open to all, it now welcomes temporary exhibitions in a privileged space.

thierry avan

Platinum Beach

The Sentier des Douaniers reveals natural beaches like Platin nestled between the rocks.

Devil's Bridge,
journey to the end of the earth

Le Devil's Bridge is a great stop on the Sentier des Douaniers in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. At the bend of the Platin and its long cove of fine sand, we see it in the center of an escarpment of dark rocks extended over the sea. This rocky projection dug by the ocean is one of the most surprising geological formations of the Coast of Beauty. A wild site that humans have also left their mark on and is loaded with legends.

In this mass of stones, it forms a gaping hole closed by a thick apron which provides the only junction between the two parts of the block. It is indeed a bridge, a footbridge, a portico crossed by the void in which the waves come to rush with a crash according to the Charente-Maritime tides. A work whose linear profile could suggest that it is the result of an artificial construction, made by the hand of man. Yet it is Nature that is the only author.

This curious architecture is the result of a long and permanent work operated by the wind and the waves. They come to undermine the soft and soluble layers of these coastal cliffs, limestone born from the multi-millennial accumulation of shells of marine animals. The lower part of the promontory consists of elements deposited more than 60 million years ago.

Rocky massif and former quarry

Rock of the Stones

Near the Devil's Bridge, other sculptures testify to the eternal force of erosion. The famous Roche au Moine has the curious appearance of a large cube. According to legend, a regular clergyman came to meditate at its peak every day. Near the Concié, the Well of the Auture refers to a rocky excavation where storms cause powerful geysers to arise. There, says another very old story, local lords – those of Didonne and Royan – would have come to the end of a pack of wolves by cornering it in the hole. The medievals also gave the site the name of "Fossa lupatura".

Le Devil's Bridge takes its name from an old tradition: that of a drifting fisherman who, to save his life, implored Satan to build him a passage to dry land. The demon complied but the poor castaway lost his soul in the adventure.

In addition to that of the sea, the place bears the trace of Man. Today we can see the many waist lines that mark this CAREER exploited at the end of the 1584th century. Between 1611 and XNUMX, they extracted 300 limestone blocks. These were used to erect the tower and the foundations of the majestic Cordouan lighthouse built offshore.


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