The estuary of the Gironde, a link between the Charentais and the Médoc rivers, has been a maritime route since Antiquity.
From the 12th century, it became the main transport route for wine to the countries of the North. Trade grew in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially the slave trade with the American colonies.
Today, our eyes regularly cross the horizon of ships carrying their cargoes, accompanied by a guide pilot to secure the water frequented by fishermen and boaters.
Its golden-brown waters, loaded with silts and sediments carried by the Garonne and the Dordogne, are frequented by shad, eel, lamprey, sea trout and the iconic sturgeon. The pibal or glass eel is a great tradition of the estuary but is rarefied. It is also one of the three places in the world where lean breeds, and the unusual fishing that is listening when the male grows grunts.
Returning from fishing, the boats unload bars, soles, meager, eels, lampreys and white shrimps at Royan's auction. The Royan fish auction is renowned for the quality of its fishing. The tourist office offers a guided tour of the auction from early July to mid-September.
For many years, with the growth of passenger tourist transport and boating, the estuary of the Gironde is the scene of a maritime ballet of cruise ships, boats, sailboats, traditional boats restored by Of the lovers of the heritage but also ferries that ensure the crossing Royan Le Verdon - Pointe de Grave.
The estuary of the Gironde offers an exotic stopover to live alone, with family or friends, for an afternoon or several days.
Find out more about the Gironde estuary
Michel and Sophie, leave for a trip on the estuary!
So off we went for a trip around the estuary!
We set sail for the open sea at 10 am to make the most of this beautiful day. We found a very varied landscape dotted with marshes and vineyards. It's a wild and natural area that was home to some of the greatest adventures in history.
We could see traces of this prestigious past as we sailed past. From the ramparts of Talmont and the Gallo-Roman remains at Barzan to the cliff dwellings at Meschers, the estuary bears witness to how its natural riches have evolved over time.
We go with the flow of this long, peaceful river. And to think that we are sailing on the biggest estuary of Western Europe! No less than 75 kilometres long and 12 kilometres wide at its mouth!
The sun and clouds play games of light and shade along the banks and we tried to immortalise a few of the effects in photos.
After about an hour's sailing we tied up in the port of Mortagne-sur-Gironde. We're going on a guided visit this afternoon. In the meantime we're going to explore the "Mortagne Camargue" where we may be lucky enough to see some migrating birds.
We plan to stay in our berth at Mortagne for the night. Then tomorrow we'll continue with our expedition.