You will undoubtedly be seduced by the villages of the Pays Royannais.
To the south, Mortagne-sur-Gironde offers a unique panorama over the estuary and the port below. There is the Hermitage monolith Saint Martial occupied by monks in the 4th century. The sea arriving at the foot of the cliffs, the navigators in distress could, thanks to a bitter, locate and take refuge.
A little further on, Saint-Seurin d'Uzet is known to have been at the origin of the production of Gironde caviar from the eggs of the female sturgeon. About 1920, a white Russian initiated some inhabitants of the village and surroundings to make the caviar. The sturgeon gradually disappeared from the estuary in the 1970s and its fishery has been banned since 1982.
You will take the hilly road offering beautiful views over the estuary to reach Talmont-sur-Gironde and its medieval bastide, located on a promontory overlooking the estuary of the Gironde.
You will reach Meschers-sur-Gironde. Born of marine and wind erosion, its cliffs overlook the estuary for more than a kilometer. Smugglers, pirates, ransomers of ships, looters of wrecks and fleeing Huguenots found refuge there. In the caves, poor fishermen's households and some hardened loners came to lodge there above the sea and the waves.
La Seudre, the smallest river in Europe, sets the northern limit of the Pays Royannais. It joins the ocean in the pertuis of Maumusson, opposite the island of Oléron, between Marennes and La Tremblade. Oysters are reared and refined, and its shores are punctuated by oyster huts and small harbors such as La Tremblade, Chaillevette and Eguille-sur-Seudre.
It is on this bank, bordered by the marshes, that nestles the medieval village of Mornac-sur-Seudre, which like Talmont is one of the most beautiful villages in France. At the entrance of the village, a market hall of the 14th century precedes a beautiful Romanesque church, then the narrow streets flourished and decorated with craft shops go down to the port.
The hinterland is characterized by the richness of its heritage and its landscapes. From village to village, you will cross the roads between vineyards, hillsides, cliffs, marshes and forests, discovering the Roman churches, temples, halls and mills, which make the history of this territory.
Marguerite, 56 years old, takes us along the Seudre and the coastal villages.
All aboard the "Train des Mouettes" – the Seagull Train!
It was Thursday. We climbed aboard the steam train that runs alongside the Seudre river from Saujon. We spent a few days there last year at the spa treatment centre. By the way, the spa establishment is really very good.
Some ten minutes later the train stopped in Mornac-sur-Seudre. This is a medieval village - we had already been there – and is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It's quite a small place on the banks of the Seudre, but offers a wide range of activities. People who love sport can try kayaking, food lovers can taste oysters alongside the estuary, and the curious can visit the salt marshes guided by a salt-maker. We did precisely that last visit in fact, and it was great! The cobbled streets are dotted with little boutiques and cosy restaurants, creating a charming atmosphere in this timeless place.
Last stop: La Tremblade. Oyster farms wherever you look. A line of small multicoloured cabins stand along the banks of the Grève channel. For me, this is a splendid and peaceful place, where time seems to stand still for a few seconds. Then there is Ronce-les-Bains with its 1900s seaside villas which make the area even more delightful.
From Meschers to St Palais, we've explored most of these seaside resorts full of character. Some friends are coming to visit next week. It'll be wonderful showing them these places, each of which has something unique in its own special way.
We'll visit the cave dwellings in Meschers, partially hollowed out by man and which were still inhabited in the 19th century. Then we'll go to see the Vallières lighthouse in Saint-Georges-de-Didonne before finishing our outing in Suzac forest, which is home to the famous Estuary Park. Then at the end of the week we plan to go walking on the Customs Officers' path at Saint-Palais where there are some superb Belle Epoque villas.
They'll be so pleased!
I must admit that the area has some really striking features! It's has a rich and varied heritage where history and tradition are still present.
We're always delighted to come and spend our holidays in such an exceptional environment!