The GR 360 – Tour de Saintonge is an essential hiking trail in Charente-Maritime. We take you to discover this circuit crossing the Destination Royan Atlantique. During this excursion between fields and vineyards, you will enjoy the natural beauty of the landscapes of the Gironde estuary.
GR 360 in Royan country, the Cozes / Talmont-sur-Gironde stage
The section we chose to travel is approximately 13 km. It is therefore carried out over half a day. Having chosen a beautiful sunny day in May, we favored the morning. We have chosen as the direction of the route: Cozes / Talmont-sur-Gironde. It thus allows you to enjoy the landscapes of the Gironde estuary and limit the number of ascents.
gr 360: From Cozes to Arces-sur-Gironde
Our trip starts at 8am from halls de Cozes in the heart of the town. Like every Wednesday and Saturday, it's the market animated by local producers. The atmosphere is friendly and you can even prepare your picnic on site. But we have ants in our legs so here we go!
By the small rue Saint-Pierre, we take the direction of the church in focus. We already allow ourselves a small detour via the presbytery garden square which offers a nice view of the religious building and its octagonal bell tower.
The town is classified Green Station and we quickly come across countryside landscapes. Once past the church, we leave the village by a small tunnel under the D 730. We then begin a journey in the middle of nature. Before the white path, we take the time to turn around to enjoy one last time a panorama of the church. The path, quickly shaded, is pleasant. We leave it before the water tower by crossing the D 245 to reach an undergrowth.
After a small plane of vines on its left, we discover Theon Castle on his right. The building nestles on the heights of the Gironde estuary, which gave it a strategic position from the XNUMXth century. Today, the place serves as a reception hall. It delimits the border between Cozes and Arces.
At the bottom of the path, we take on the right (for a short moment, we are on the same path as the VTT circuit n°12). We arrive at the level of the Laurier estate, before entering again into an undergrowth. At the exit, a unique panorama opens onto the Gironde estuary, the port of My dears and the Verdon cranes. In front of us, the steeple of Saint-Martin d'Arces church dominates a few vines. We also guess, on his left, the pyramid of the guard at the top of a hill. A little further, we are at the foot of the church and its imposing apse. Once at the entrance, it's a good time for a short break!
gr 360: From Arces to Talmont-sur-Gironde
Come on, let's get back in working order and start on the right foot! We cross the village and at the roundabout, we take the direction of the house of Grosse Pierre. The roundabout of the Cross houses a sculpture by Mathieu Harzo: “Corps & Âmes” It represents a lion surmounted by an eagle.
We then advance on a small path through fields. Again, the view of the Gironde estuary is magnificent. We approach the salt meadows that separate us from the village of Talmont-sur-Gironde of which we see the famous Sainte-Radegonde church.
After the place called Les Boulas, we descend between fields and vines to reach an undergrowth which opens onto the salt meadows. Here you can find stork nests. Here we are on small dirt roads dammed by tamarisk and bordered by small canals. You have to be careful when cutting the D 114E 9 then the D 145.
Finally, it's arrived! Welcome to Talmont-sur-Gironde, a town classified among "The Most Beautiful Villages of France". We deserved to slow down and have a drink on the terrace before going for a walk in the flowery streets of the village.
Next time, if we have the courage, we continue the GR 360 to Mortagne-sur-Gironde!
GR 360 route and points of interest
The Halles de Cozes date from the 3th century. They have retained their original benches but the framework was renovated in the XNUMXth century. The tiled roof covers XNUMX separate bays of stone and oak pillars. These halls host markets and fairs and are the heart of the town.
St. Peter's Church
The church was built in the XNUMXth century. Its octagonal bell tower dates from the XNUMXth century. An exterior capital depicts the story of the Fox and the Stork.
Saint Martin's Church
The St-Martin church was built between the 1911th and XNUMXth centuries on a rocky promontory. Its classification as a Historic Monument dates from XNUMX. The pillars, the capitals of the choir as well as the celestial vault in the cul-de-four are painted.
The village of Talmont-sur-Gironde
The fortified city has several tourist labels: The Most Beautiful Villages of France®, Small Towns of Character® and Stone & Water Villages. On the program of the visit: the port, the remains of the White Tower, the place of the hundred-year-old lime tree, the promontory, the flowery alleys, the Caillaud cliff and the squares.
The Sainte Radegonde church
At the end of the 1890th century, the Benedictine monks of the abbey of Saint-Jean-d'Angély built the Romanesque church. It was fortified in the XNUMXth century, at the same time as the walled town. Its classification as a Historic Monument dates from XNUMX.
Prepare well for hiking on the GR 360
The GR 360 long-distance hiking trail is a 465 kilometer loop. It crosses towns like Saintes, Pons and Jonzac.
What is a GR®?
A GR® is a marked trail of Great Hike. These routes often require several days of walking. Depending on your level, you can also cover them in sections over half a day or a whole day. The French Federation of Hiking (FFRandonnée) is responsible for managing the GR®.
The markup of a GR®
A long-distance footpath is marked in white and red. The marking can be affixed by paint, stickers, plates on different types of natural or built supports: trees, rocks, poles, walls. Their repetition is not regular and depends on the terrain. It is therefore necessary to know how to recognize the indications and where to look for them.
Be careful not to confuse the GR® hiking markup with other symbols. The mountain bike markup consists of a triangle and two circles. The equestrian markup is made of lines in orange.
Good advice before and during a GR®
In addition to the markup information, you must think about equipping yourself with a map, a compass or an application dedicated to hiking on your smartphone. A markup sign may have been erased, removed or covered up… You must then know orient oneself by your own.
You have to be well informed to get organized before leaving thanks to websites, documents, topo-guides… This allows you to assess the duration that the excursion will take without prejudging your strengths. This is also the time to choose your stages and stops. So remember to prepare your plan.
It is also important to inquire the weather to assess the completion of the course and the necessary clothing. Among hikers, we practice “the onion technique”. We dress in several layers that we remove or put back according to our feelings.
Equip is obviously essential. You have to choose your shoes and backpack carefully for your safety and also your comfort. It is not useless to provide walking sticks for a better distribution of the effort and a better balance (watch out for strains or sprains!). Depending on the era, you have to think of sunscreen, sunglasses, hat (or cap) or even hat, scarf, raincoat...
refuel is also very important. Drink regularly and provide snacks. So take breaks while walking. It's not a race!
Think about hydrate prevents possible cramps or tendonitis.
Before leaving, stretch is needed to warm up your muscles and avoid back pain.