Nestled in the heart of the marshes of the Presqu'Île d'Arvert, Mornac-sur-Seudre is revealed to those who are curious enough to go there. A small village with two faces: traditional oyster farming and artisanal passion. Quite simply, one of Most Beautiful Villages of France® ».
A craft village overlooking the marshes
Mornac-sur-Seudre is a “Village of Stones & Water” as promised by the Charente-Maritime label. It is not easy to guess whether it is from the Royan – Rochefort road axis or Saujon - Tremblade. You have to look for one of the small roads through the swamps that will take you there. Mornac is a village where you have to take your time to soak up its atmosphere and its wisdom acquired over the centuries.
We visit it on foot to savor every detail. It is also a place conducive to exchanges whether with the generous inhabitants in anecdotes, the craftsmen showing their know-how, which earned it the label "City and Crafts", or even other visitors wishing to share their favorites. Here, everything is on a human scale.
We discover the village by the square of the halls. The shelter, built in wood and supported by stone pillars, is conducive to encounters. We take a break in the shade while waiting for those who are looking for the rare pearl in the shops.
The XNUMXth century halls still house the weekly food market or summer and evening entertainment.
The terraced houses replace the old fortifications which protected the town in the Middle Ages. Unless you know the more confidential accesses, you enter through the halls and exit through the port, following the main street. However, do not hesitate to stroll through the small alleys and alleys of the old town. Don't be fooled by the small size of the village, you can literally get lost! This spiraling part of Mornac is called the “Arab quarter”. This nickname is due to the many narrow and winding streets that the sailors of the village compared to the medinas discovered in North Africa during their expeditions at sea.
St. Peter's Church
It dominates the town from its fortified bell tower. Original in many ways, the Romanesque building houses a holy water stoup made of a real shell. From the side, you reach the small bedside garden, well hidden. Stone sarcophagi (Merovingian or Carolingian depending on the sources) testify to the archaeological excavations that the church has known. The stories are numerous in Mornac but that of the fire of August 2, 1943 marked the identity of the village. Indeed, the bell tower has not always had this appearance. It had the more traditional shape of an arrow until lightning struck it. Many young students come to Mornac-sur-Seudre to participate in the clearing and excavations that follow. Seduced by the local atmosphere, many people will stay and open the first craft workshops in the village, some of which are still present, such as pottery and leather.
From the halls to the port, the houses of the former fishermen now host painters' galleries, craft workshops, small shops (clothing, jewellery, decorative objects, souvenirs, creations, local products, delicacies, etc.). A visit to the village can quickly turn into a shopping day!
An oyster port in the middle of the clear
Leaving the town by Harbour opens onto large spaces. We are facing the Seudre marsh. The gaze goes as far as the eye can see (isn't it the steeple of Marennes that we see in the distance?). The sea air tickles the nostrils. We sit down on one of the terraces of the Restaurants in Mornac-sur-Seudre to enjoy this moment of calm. You just hear the water being chased from the tide mill. A basic structure in wooden trunks attracts attention: it is the reconstruction of a medieval fire.
The port comes alive with the arrival of the children of the village. The "galop ch'naux" have all learned to swim here. THE sailboat “La Fleche” is in port. This former fishing cutter and "Boat of Heritage Interest" is joined during the day of “Sails of Mornac”, during the high tides of August, by other old rigs on the Atlantic seaboard.
The port is extended by a channel joining the estuary of the Seudre in the middle of the clear, these basins being used for the refining of the Marennes-Oléron oysters.
The port is bordered by traditional and typical cabins. Each has different colors. There is something for every taste. The small Seudre road allows you to follow them to the foot of the estuary. We arrive, at the very end, at the "ach'neau ghoul". We feel alone in the world. Everything is flat, horizontal. It's time to tell you: the name Mornac means "calm waters".
Activities in Mornac-sur-seudre to discover the marsh and the village
There is more than one way to tame this natural environment shaped by the hand of man. From the port, cruise departures are based on the tide. Sometimes there is simply no water in the port. But when the stars allow it, go for a sea trip to total disorientation. 5 minutes from boarding and you feel completely elsewhere. By kayak, we are closer to nature. Old fashioned stop saunier's hut : we watch the flight of the heron, we taste the glasswort...
But not everyone has sea legs. From Chemin de la Corderie, you can take the marked Détours® loops, between April and October, on the embankments of the pedestrian walkways. Think of the hat, the cream and the water bottle: in the heart of the marshes, there is no shade to shelter you. Why not take advantage of commented tours of the village offered during the season? Mornac and its marshes can also be visited by bike via the shared routes of Paths of the Seudre. If the walk seems too long, you can combine the bike ride with the Seagull Train. By steam locomotive, it's the right speed to quietly appreciate the landscapes of the Seudre. Mornac-sur-Seudre is a stage station of the tourist train. If the view of the salt marsh along the way has piqued your curiosity, hop off to take the guided tour. You will learn all about the ancestral techniques that allow the harvesting of salt.
And on Thursday evenings in summer, the village lights up with the lights on along the rue du port, in front of the facades of the stalls that have remained open for the occasion. On the port, it smells of burnt pine needles, the flames arouse the interest of the walker: it's the right time to a splash of mussels or a seafood platter.