28th August – passage from Pornic to L’Herbaudière
We left Pornic at around midday to cover the 18 miles to Noirmoutier with a wind of Beaufort force 2! Not enough for us to have a great sail but as the weather was sunny and very warm we put up the lightweight genoa and made our way to our destination slowly but surely.
Jellyfish in the jade green waters en route to Noirmoutier
I mentioned in my last post about the Jade Coast of France and the here sea reflects the colour perfectly! As we cruised along we saw masses of these huge jellyfish – eek! I don’t know how close into shore they come but I definitely wouldn’t like to come fact to face with one!
Alan tried fishing and was most surprised to catch a mackerel! However, having landed it, in the enthusiasm to make sure it was put out of it’s misery Alan gave it one more hit on the head and it flew off the hook and back into the water!! We consoled ourselves with the thought that it probably wasn’t big enough to share and so one wouldn’t have been enough anyway!
We are now officially in the Vendée department of France – we’re getting further south!!
29th August – Off to explore the island!
We put the bikes together and set off on the bike trail that led to town of Noirmoutier. As usual, the trail was very easy to ride on and of course no traffic to contend with, well only other cyclists of which there were many but not a problem though!!
The Salt Marshes
It is most famous for it’s production of salt – “White Gold” – from the predominantly marshy terrain which is characteristic of the island. We soon came across the salt production, it was everywhere! There is also significant production of potatoes, oysters and moules au buchot on the island.
Moules au buchot and Noirmoutier potatoes!
Noirmoutier – The town!
Street scenes and The Hotel de Ville
The town of Noirmoutier is the main hub of the island and has a harbour too but not suitable for us or many cruising yachts, unless you can ‘take the ground’, as it is a drying harbour. Hence the fishing harbour at L’Herbaudière has been developed to accommodate us sailors!
Noirmoutier town harbour and entrance channel
We parked the bikes and walked around the pedestrianised streets in the town which had everything one would need on a day to day basis together with many restaurants which tend to major on crêperies. We were drawn to the old and original part of the town by this lovely château which dominates the town with it’s almost 20 metre high keep! It is beautifully preserved and overlooks the harbour and the bay beyond.
The Château and it’s ramparts
Opposite the château is l’Église Saint-Philbert. It was very beautiful inside and always lovely to hear the recorded choral singing as you wander round. Here are some shots of the inside of the church, including the crypt which is under the nave of the church.
L’Église Saint Philbert
After a quick lunch we then resumed our cycling! We headed to the harbour entrance to view again the reason why we couldn’t get in (shallow) and then for the beautiful beaches and wooded coastline and which provides amazing camping for the many tourists who visit the island. Every turn off to the right led us to yet another gorgeous beach!
Beautiful Beaches at every turn!
We arrived back into the fishing port and Musetta having had a lovely day touring the island.
Just an added point of interest – Although Île de Noirmoutier is an island it is linked to the mainland by a bridge built in 1971.
However it also has a paved over sandbank link called the Passage du Gois which is 4.1km (2.58 miles) long! Each year since 1987 a foot race called Foulées du Gois is held. It is usually run in June for the obvious reasons of more daylight hours and warmer water, but also because the tidal heights are more favourable.
The race is most likely to be run in the evening just as the tide starts to rise and the water first crosses the road. The current record for the race is 12 minutes and 8 seconds and is held by a French athlete. The Foulées du Gois is the second most publicised event in the Vendée department calendar after the Vendée Globe Round The World Yacht Race! which is very close to my heart!
Finally, we noticed a definite change in architecture, more buildings with a Mediterranean look, ie with flatter pitched roofs with terracotta coloured tiles and white painted walls and colourful woodwork.
Starting to see a different style of architecture!
What a great place Île de Noirmoutier was, another star rating from us! Onwards we go, Île d’Yeu next….