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

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.