On the right bank of the estuary, Mortagne-sur-Gironde offers one of the most beautiful viewpoints over the estuary landscapes. Alternating marshes, salt meadows and dead cliffs, Mortagne invites you to the sweetness of life. Only 20 km from the first beaches, let yourself be charmed by the calm and beauty of this small town in the Pays Royannais with two faces, upper town and lower town.
The upper town
Gateway to the town, the upper town brings together most of the shops. Through the alleys that criss-cross between the white stone dwellings, we advance to the belvedere located on the edge of the cliff. From there, we take advantage of a panorama outstanding on the lower town and landscapes with Tuscan colors.
The lower town, the heart of Mortagnais
From the top of the cliff, the activity below invites discovery. We take the rue du port. The unavoidable of the commune is then offered to us: the marina and fishing port.
Delimited on the one hand by the wharf of the estuary and on the other by the wharf of the fishermen, the port is the heart of Mortagne life and has been for centuries.
In the XNUMXth century, the port was already experiencing significant growth, particularly in the brandy trade from Saintonge to Bordeaux. We see, at the time, aligned on the right bank of the channel, cellars, warehouses and other stores. Prestigious houses such asHennessy take up residence there.
In the 3th and XNUMXth centuries, the port became industrialized and became a crossroads for the export of goods. It even became the XNUMXrd port of the Gironde estuary in Lower Charente in the XNUMXth century. Potatoes from the region go to South America and South Africa via Bordeaux. The productions of the Gravelle cement plant, close to the port, are sent to Royan and Oléron. THE flour mills, located on the right bank of the channel, ship their flour to Bordeaux, Blaye and the Médoc.
Stroll around the port of Mortagne
Even today, the port remains the dynamic place of the village. We find restaurants, bed and breakfasts and small shops around the marina like this old flour mill converted into a flea market. You will love antiquing.
We continue the discovery on the quay of the estuary. In front of you, a small red brick house traces the history of the town. This former landing stage is now transformed into postcard museum. We extend the walk a few more steps along the quay on the pedestrian path. One of the most beautiful viewpoints closer to the estuary is revealed. We feel very small in front of the immensity of nature that surrounds us.
On the way don't hesitate to make a detour to an unusual place, a room made up of around thirty pinball machines adjoining the domain of the miller. Return to childhood guaranteed.
On the other side, on the left bank, we see in the distance a group of fishermen "at the quay" trying to remake the world while waiting for the water to cover the hull. Generations mingle, certainly sharing secrets of sailors and other fishing techniques such as "listening" fishing. This traditional technique is practiced in the estuary to find areas where lean is present. It is now time for these boatmen to set sail. Appreciate this magnificent spectacle of fishing boats lined up in the channel to reach the estuary.
The Saint-Martial Hermitage
Another must-see place in the town, themonolithic hermitage Saint Martial. Classified as one of the oldest monolithic sites in France, theHermitage Saint-Martial was dug into the cliff more than thirty meters high by sea monks and smugglers.
As early as the 76th century, when the estuary still bathed the foot of the cliff, the work of these monks consisted of bringing travelers across the banks of the Médoc by boat. We reached on foot from the top of the cliffs. It was then necessary to descend a staircase of 20 steps whose impressive vault is more than XNUMX meters high. The tower which overlooks the hermitage served both as a landmark and as a bell tower. Inside there is a cellar, an oratory, a kitchen, two dormitories, and two cells.
The most striking place is the chapel of the hermitage. It is very similar to those found in Greece or Turkey. Thanks to openings judiciously dug in the rock, the altar and the statues of Saint Martial and Saint Anthony of Egypt are never in the shade whatever the time of day. The Coptic cross placed on the altar, the Byzantine half-cross at the foot of the altar and the ambulatory accentuate the Orthodox and spectacular aspect of this chapel.
A nature to discover at your own pace
Nature is at the gates of Mortagne-sur-Gironde. Between brackish waters of the Gironde estuary and dead cliffs, Swamp of the estuary are a rich environment where elegant avocet, purple heron, aquatic warbler find refuge...
On foot, follow the Detours® trail over 8 km or the Terra Aventura route "The estuary's sheepfolds" over 4,5 km. Cross the salt meadows, these marshes of the estuary, where the lambs graze from March to November. Waypoint of Canal of the 2 seas by bike®, Mortagne-sur-Gironde is ideal for walks. We take advantage of the hilly landscapes where hills, marshes and panoramas of the Gironde alternate in gentle mobility. And why not discover the riches of Mortagnaise at speed bumps ? In free or accompanied hikes, it is an original way to explore the estuarine landscapes.
Between nature and curiosities, Mortagne-sur-Gironde is the promise of a place where stones and water make the beauty of the landscapes.