The unusual walk of the Blue Lakes of Touvérac

Saint-Maigrin
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The unusual walk of t ...
A stone's throw from the small Charentais village of Saint-Maigrin , at the gates of the Charente, nestles a vast 40 hectare forest complex , a veritable paradise for hikers and nature enthusiasts . In the heart of this forest, we set off to discover the unusual vestiges of old quarries of white clay : the blue ponds of Touvérac . Intoxicated by the sweet scent of the undergrowth, we follow the hiking trail from the Charbonnière car park for an invigorating stroll amidst protected natural areas. The key: the mysterious lakes with turquoise and crystal clear waters offer breathtaking panoramas.

Blue Lakes of Touvérac


Bucolic hike surrounded by nature

From Saint-Maigrin, we cross the departmental border between Charente-Maritime and Charente towards Baignes-Sainte-Ragonde located a few kilometers away. To access the parking lot of the Lacs Bleus de Touvérac ride site, just take the D131 for about one kilometer. The site is well signposted, a small coal house welcomes visitors.

Blue Lakes of Touvérac      Blue Lakes of Touvérac


The Touvérac quarry site is the property of the AGS kaolin extraction and processing company in Clérac . Since the cessation of exploitation twenty years ago, nature is gradually resuming its rights and the Regional Conservatory of Natural Spaces of Poitou-Charentes (CREN) is today in charge of the management of the places . The industrial activity of clay extraction has left many traces in the landscape, dotting it with a multitude of open-air holes. These old extraction wells , filled with rainwater have turned into lakes over the years. We thus enter a protected site , a refuge for biodiversity and a veritable sanctuary for a multitude of animal and plant species.


Two interpretation trails in the heart of the forest

Blue Lakes of Touvérac

The Pond of the Charbonnière

On the other side of the road which adjoins the car park, a first lake is immediately revealed: the Etang de la Charbonnière . It is possible to get around it in 45 minutes by following the path dotted with interpretation panels . The history of the 4 lakes that make up this site is explained pedagogically to understand the geological dynamics of these grandiose landscapes . After this first loop, we return to the parking lot to continue the hike through the circuit of the "Terrier des Renards" , 3 km long. Depending on your pace, this loop of around 1:30 to 2 hours leads to the three other lakes known for the color of their waters which range from turquoise to emerald.


Blue Lakes of Touvérac       Blue Lakes of Touvérac


Blue Lakes of Touvérac       Blue Lakes of Touvérac

Magnificent and varied landscapes pass before our eyes

Blue Lakes of Touvérac     Blue Lakes of Touvérac     Blue Lakes of Touvérac

A biodiversity sanctuary to observe


The small, mostly flat path crosses sumptuous and very diverse landscapes over the course of the walk: wooded areas dotted with ferns, mushrooms and lichens, areas of moors made up of shrubs, shrubs, heather, gorse, reeds We are delighted by the beauty of the place , a breath of fresh air in a green setting . After half an hour of walking, we follow the small path through the reeds and tall grass to a first lake which offers a stunning panorama . Imagine white earth sculpted by the flow of water, contrasting with a turquoise blue as intense as a Caribbean lagoon . It is the wonder, the total change of scenery ! We approach the lake below to take advantage of the splendid view and the crystal clear waters, characteristic of a very young environment where the acidity slows down the development of all aquatic life . These transparent waters, of remarkable purity, do not harbor any fish, any micro-organism, or even any suspended matter to absorb light.

Blue Lakes of Touvérac


Blue Lakes of Touvérac       Blue Lakes of Touvérac


Blue Lakes of Touvérac

A Caribbean-style paradise


No swimming !

On the edge of the lake, the banks are slippery and unstable , it is easy to sink into the clay which lines the ground by approaching the lake too closely. Kaolinite or kaolin is an ultra fine clay . When touched, it can be recognized by its sticky and soft feeling . In the last century, when these Charente quarries were exploited, this beautiful white earth was intended for the manufacture of porcelain , ceramics and earthenware but also for the production of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products .

Blue Lakes of Touvérac


Blue Lakes of Touvérac       Blue Lakes of Touvérac


Very deep (between 30 and 50 meters), these lakes on the bottom of sticky soap are not suitable for swimming , prohibited by municipal decree. The pasty and shifting nature of the soil would make it too dangerous and any rescue impossible. Regardless, the beauty of the place lends itself perfectly to passive contemplation , meditation and many other activities respectful of this fragile environment such as walking or mountain biking .

An unsuspected idyllic parenthesis highly recommended for all lovers of nature and the great outdoors!


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Article and photos prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Charente Maritime Guide


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