24th – 28th August ~ Pornic, Pays de la Loire

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Bye, bye Île-d’Houat

24th August – Passage to Pornic

We left Île-d’Houat and set our course for Pornic in a south easterly direction and made good progress.  It was a great day for sailing for us with a wind strength of Beaufort 4 we romped along!  Read more….

Cracking along under main and cruising chute!

Up went the cruising chute and we took off reaching speeds of 8 plus knots with a maximum of 9 knots!! These speeds weren’t continuous because the winds were very variable and in reality our average was 5 ½ knots for the 42 nautical miles and we arrived at 4.20pm!  None the less we had a cracking sail!

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An old vessel entering the Le Vieux Port

As soon as we had moored I knew that I was going to enjoy Pornic, it had a lovely atmosphere of a chic holiday destination! We had been welcomed into the marina and shown our berth by a very friendly member of the Capitainerie staff in a  rib. She couldn’t have been more helpful, explaining how the marina works, where the office was, the showers and laundry etc. We settled Musetta, had a cup of tea and then set off firstly to pay and then to explore!

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The Old Port

Pornic is definitely a hidden treasure on the Cote de Jade, named after the unique colour of the sea water.  It really is the colour of jade! The marina is at the beginning of an inlet which leads to the pretty little fishing port at the top. The town is perched on a rock and seems to cascade down to the water in a series of picturesque lanes and is full of life from dusk to dawn.  It is plain to see that Pornic was a very fashionable seaside in the 19th century, and still is.

The narrow lanes!

IMG_9118Again there were many restaurants and having decided to eat ashore on one of our nights we discovered this delightful little establishment as we wandered in the lanes.  We had an excellent meal there and were entertained by the owner especially when we deciding on wines! He was obviously very knowledgeable but we had to laugh at the amount of tasting he undertook during the evening. Quite a character!


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The marina links to the town via a windy path along the edge of the inlet and is very pretty, if a little risky at night because it is unlit!! However, the trusty phone torch is always at hand!

The ‘unlit’ path which links the marina to the Old Port

 

The most prominent building in Pornic is the château. It is also known as “Château de Barbe Bleue” (Bluebeard) because it once belonged to one Gilles de Rais, a most unsavoury character who was a child killer and was eventually hanged for his crimes. He was also said to be the inspiration behind the fairytale of the same name, a fairytale which I’ve always thought rather gruesome?!  The castle which dates from the 10th century, is bordered on one side by the sea. In the Middle Ages it provided for the defence of the port. The original walls and turrets are all listed and very well preserved.

The Château de Barbe Bleue

The Tumulus de Mousseaux – Pornic and Brittany has the largest concentration of megalithic structures from the neolithic period and this one is a good example although it is now surrounded by the development of the town. It is a double chambered tumulus with side chambers in each tunnel and like the one in Bono, you can walk inside and experience the eeriness of it all!!. This site is over 5,000 years old and excavations show this tomb to date about 3500 BC.!

The Tumulus de Mousseaux

Like so many other places we have seen there is a huge emphasis on water sports here in Pornic where it is possible to hire kayaks, paddle boards, dinghies and canoes or have instruction on them. 

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The sailing dinghies, canoes, surf boards on one side of the port

25th, 26th and 27th August -Fêtes de la Saint-Gilles

We were fortunate to be in Pornic for this 24th staging of a very traditional Breton Festival which is held over three days. The many different attractions are designed to showcase and to perpetuate the Celtic traditions of the region to both the residents of Pornic and the holidaymakers too.

 

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Sea Shanties Breton Style

On Friday, the first night of the festival we watched a group of very enthusiastic ‘mature’ members of one of the clubs singing Breton style sea shanties on stage. They were very amusing! The stage was set up in an open space at the top of the port and benches were set out for anyone who wanted to watch. 

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Evening veiws of the port

 

 

It was amazingly well attended and members of the audience spontaneously got up and performed the traditional dancing in front of the stage as the musicians sang and played.  It was a very enjoyable interlude during our evening wanderings.

 

The festival de la Saint-Gilles

On Sunday, the last day of the festival there were parades up and down the old port of folk singers and dancers all dressed in traditional costume.  All very colourful and much “Joie de Vivre”

Thorough enjoyment by cast and onlookers!

Finally, and on a lighter note, we witnessed this poor couple’s dilemma and utter embarrassment!

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Oops!

They had to wait 5 hours for the tide to come in to refloat them! They had absolutely no shelter from the very hot sunshine but were in good spirits about it all! 

 

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Pornic was another great stopover for us, we thoroughly enjoyed this delightful seaside town on the Jade coast.

Pornic Harbour at night!

 

On to the Vendee now…..

À Bientôt!

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