a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The call of the sea


Yesterday I did potter in the garden, I did try to enthuse myself in the many tasks that have to be tackled to clear up after the big freeze and before the spring.  However, the afternoon was sunny and as they say over here “it was stronger that me” – I wanted to see the sea.

The slogan of Charente Maritime is “Entre Terre et Mer”, that is between land and sea.  I love the countryside, the woods and fields but I would not like to live too far away from the sea.

In half an hour I can be at the Grande Cote and overlook a beautiful sandy beach that extends for miles backed by pine forest right up to La Palmyre  a small, mainly tourist town. Yesterday the beach at the Grand Cote had few tourists, their places taken up by a few amateur fishermen using cane and spinning reel.  The fish are not abundant here but they might hope to catch a small bass or bream or even a conger eel.

Walking towards St.Palais along the cliff I was satisfied by the sound and the smell of the sea.  A seascape does not change so radically as the seasons change in the countryside but it is good to walk by the edge of the Atlantic and touch the edge of the rest of the world.

An oddity of the region are the “carrelet” that can be seen along the coasts here.  These little cabins that are connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge have a square fishing net that can be raised and lowered.  It appears to be a definitely low-key method of fishing and many people are seduced by these picturesque cabins –  finding their little island of tranquillity seemingly in the middle of the sea without putting their foot on a boat.  I have been told that the carrelet are a highly prized and expensive purchase used for leisure rather than for commercial fishing.  If you are interested in finding out more on carrelet in the region there is an informative web page http://www.pays-royannais-patrimoine.com/themes/peche/les-carrelets-sur-ponton/des-carrelets-et-des-hommes/

St Palais sur Mer is about three and a half to four kilometres along the coast from the Grande Cote.  It is a charming little town offering a selection of bars to rest to refresh before setting out on the return journey.

Nearing St Palais I saw some ducks  in the shallow waters of the natural harbour.  However, after a bit of research I find these birds were not ducks but Brant geese, Branta bernicla or Bernache cravant that over winter in the region.

Hopefully the sea air will refresh and revive.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

6 thoughts on “The call of the sea

  1. Also known as Brent geese, not suppose to taste very good, which is obviously a bonus if you are a goose.


  2. The Brents you saw here could have been these… [http://le-moulin-de-la-forge.blogspot.fr/2012/03/moving-times-for-boidz.html]… seen almost one month later on their way north…


  3. Pingback: Gardening on the beach | a french garden

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