I will share with you the secret of a little corner of paradise!
It seems, in any case, to be a secret, for when Amelia and I mention lake Carcans-Maubuisson to most of our French friends, they claim that they have never heard of it. They all tell me that the largest lake in France is Lake Annecy (Lac d’Annecy) in the Haute-Savoie. But lake Annecy covers an area of 27.5 square kilometers. Lake Geneva, admittedly is large (580 Sq Km), but it is only partially in France. Lake Carcans-Maubuisson or sometimes referred to as Hourtin-Carcans, depending on the leaflet of which tourist office you look at, is indeed the largest inland lake, entirely in France. It covers an area of 56.67 square kilometers, and is just 50 Km west of Bordeaux in the Aquitaine region of France.
Just on the Southern shores of the lake is the little town of Maubuisson, with its main Boulevard du Lac running along the shore.
Amelia and I escape to this little corner of paradise whenever the windsurfing fever takes us, or we just feel that we need a little relaxation from weeding and looking after Amelia’s ‘afrenchgarden’.
I love to just sit on the terrace of the café ‘Le Bord’eau’ and have a cup of coffee.
I often look across the bay and watch the boats, the catamarans, and the windsurfers sailing across the lake.
We went to Maubuisson on 2nd of September but the French holiday season had finished. The temperature was between 28 degrees Centigrade (82 F) and 34 Centigrade (93 F). The water was warm and there were only a small number of holiday makers, mostly locals on the beach.
As we swam in the lake damselflies and dragonflies skimmed over the lake and sandy shore.
Amelia drew my attention to a pair of azure damselflies at ‘it’, on the sand. Even during mating they appeared to indicate that they too loved Maubuisson .
We took a stroll in the weekly street market and watched the regional products on display.
The Basque family (Euskadi is their own name for Basque) were selling cheese and home made cakes.
The little Basque girl would be at school in a few days, but today she was helping mum.
The fishmonger was displaying beautiful fresh fish and his stall was certainly very popular.
The little dog waited patiently and hopefully.
There were several stalls selling local and regional handicraft: pottery, clothes and jewelry.
I mentioned that there are two lakes in that area. To the North is the lake Carcans-Maubuisson and below that is lake Lacanau. There is, however another little jewel in between these two lakes and that is lake Cousseau.
It is a nature reserve and can only be reached on foot or on bicycle. The lake, now covering some 6 square kilometers, was formed some 3000 years ago after the last ice age came to an end. Initially lake Cousseau was joined to its sister lakes on the North and the South, but as the water receded, the area around the lake became, as it is today, a marshland ideal for the wildlife.
Whilst I enjoyed the absolute peace and beauty of the countryside, Amelia was busy (bee-sy?) taking macro photos of the bees , the damselflies, and the butterflies.
Along the path back from the lake I did see the white-tailed bumble bees gorging themselves on the heather. This one’s pollen sac was so heavy that I wondered how she could fly.
It is rare in our area of the Charente-Maritime to see and hear the cicadas (Cicadidae). But the Gironde region is that little bit more south. I could hear many cicadas singing in the hot mid-day , but when I looked carefully I eventually spotted him (or her?)
I found it difficult to photograph the little insect, but hopefully the very short video clip (only 12 seconds) is more demonstrative as the cicada moves down along the bark of the tree. I will not even try to explain how cicadas make their wonderful sound, since Sue in her Backyard Biology blog so wonderfully explains and illustrates it.
I looked up beyond the cicada, at the deep blue sky,
And I thought once again how lucky I was. As Amelia and I drove back home I recalled the lyrics of an old song:
‘If paradise is half as nice as heaven that you take me to, who needs paradise, I’d rather have you.’