The sumptuous landscapes of the coast
On the coast of the department, there are just over 400 carrelets officially registered in the heritage of Charente-Maritime since 2018. Built on wooden stilts and connected to the ground by a long pontoon, the foundations of the carrelets are immersed in the 'water. Thus, these huts belong to the maritime public domain and it is the State which chooses their allocation by issuing operating permits to the owners, renewable every 5 years. These small fishing huts are passed on for some from generation to generation.
Many shacks were destroyed by the storms of 1999 and Xynthia in 2010. The first affected almost 90% of the carrelets, or nearly 600 carrelets destroyed. Some have been rebuilt scrupulously following the rule "all wood, tin roof possible", others have kept only their pontoon.
Le plaelet, a cabin perched on the ocean
The word "plaice" actually designates the square net which is used to fish from these facilities on stilts, lowered and raised into the sea by a winch system which lifts the submerged net horizontally using a pulley or a rope. Practiced at rising tide , in shallow waters, the plaice fishing technique consists of placing a bait in the middle of the net and making it move regularly so as to attract sole , mules , goats , plaice, crabs , shrimp and eels ! This artisanal fishing is above all a hobby that requires a good dose of patience. However, fishing for plaice, which is generally carried out between March and October, is regulated by the Departmental Directorate of Maritime Affairs . To spend a convivial day with the family or to escape the tumult of the modern world alone, the Charentais appreciate the sweetness of life that the carrelets provide, lulled by the sound of the waves and enjoying the present moment.
You will find carrelets scattered all over the coast, on the banks of the Charente and the Gironde , from Rochefort to Port des Barques , on Île Madame and Île d'Oléron , from the Marais d'Yves to Fouras up to in Marennes-Oléron . My suggestions of picturesque places where to admire the plaice will delight the eyes of visitors and will be the occasion for a beautiful stroll by the sea.
The plaice is very present on the Royan coast and particularly in Saint Palais-sur-Mer , a small resort full of charm and "Belle Epoque" villas. My favorite spot is undeniably Pont du Diable , a natural limestone rock formation located on a peninsula in the town, on the Pierrières massif. Following the path that leads to the Grande Côte, venture into the rocks to enjoy a breathtaking view of the ocean and the Cordouan lighthouse in the Gironde estuary.
The Devil's Bridge is a natural site appreciated by tourists, photographers and fishermen with several wooden carrelets still used for fishing for crustaceans, shellfish and fish from the Estuary. At sunset , the spectacle is beautiful!
Bathed by the Bay of Biscay, nestled between the Fouras peninsula and the island of Aix to the north, and the small oyster port of Port-des-Barques, Île Madame is the second smallest of the five Charente islands , classified by decreasing size: Île d'Oléron, Île de Ré, Île d'Aix, Île Madame and Île de Nôle. Known as an ideal place to practice shore fishing , Île Madame is connected to the mainland by a sand and pebble path approximately one km long, accessible only at low tide. Find out about the tide times so as not to be caught off guard! Many carrelets are implanted on its shore. Real postcard landscapes!
Here is a small seaside resort which has many surprises in store! Take the coastal path between the Yves Baie natural reserve and the town of Fouras to admire many squares on your way. My favorite spot is located at the end of the south beach , along the Source du Paradis trail. Superb carrelets reveal themselves in an authentic and peaceful seaside setting . Along the northern path of the peninsula, a little wilder, you will also find magnificent specimens of plaice in a row! A walk that combines sumptuous panoramic views of the ocean and a picturesque discovery of these huts with undeniable charm.
Between land and sea, the small village of Talmont-sur-Gironde , located on a promontory on the Charentais coast is one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France" for the richness of its heritage. Carrelets are an integral part of this preserved culture and you can admire superb huts in the village of Caillaud from the port of Talmont. At low tide, several carrelets are admired up close at the foot of the fortifications of this medieval country house surrounded by ramparts. In the off-season, this village inspires calm and serenity.
About ten kilometers from Royan, famous for the troglodyte caves of Matata , the small village of Meschers-sur-Gironde offers a wide panorama of the largest wild estuary in Europe. Direction the Pointe de Meschers to contemplate majestic colorful squares superbly aligned . Take the small staircase which allows you to descend and access the rocks on which they are proudly erected! The setting sun over the ocean gives the Meschers-sur-Gironde carrelets a romantic look.
The carrelets are part of the emblematic images of the Charente-Maritime coast and you will not resist the temptation to bring your own shots of these symbols of freedom which embody all the sweetness of Charente living, in osmosis with nature and the ocean.