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Bay of Biscay: from Barre d’Étel to Gâvres

The Ria d’Étel empties into the Bay of Biscay, and right at this meeting point, things can get pretty interesting. After our morning detour to Saint Cado, we continued driving westwards to Barre d’Etel, located at the mouth of the estuary.

Along the river, large volumes of water are displaced by the tides and the estuary itself is subject to strong currents – we saw multiple signs warning potential swimmers from committing the folly of mounting a watery challenge. At Barre d’Etel, an ever shifting band of sand is formed by these cross currents. Additionally, on days with strong wind, be prepared for the assault of the sand. (Yes, I was ill-prepared, for I arrived wearing shorts and it was painful being pelted non-stop that I couldn’t go anywhere near the seafront! Everyone else came back with pocketful of sands instead.)

Barre d'Etel

Barre d'Etel

Barre d'Etel

Barre d'Etel

Barre d'Etel

It was rather deceiving, to think that just a little inland from the estuary, we saw calm waters and a couple of men staying nearby to clean the oysters and mussels that they’d amassed just moments ago. If you look at the second last photos above more carefully though, you can see how the waves were crashing it and how the wind brought them in with high splashes. It was all so magnificently savage.

However, just a few kilometres north-west from the estuary of Etel, we found ourselves driving past Plouhinec and heading towards a peninsula called Gâvres. Our arrival to the peninsula was greeted by curious and large signage of the presence of a military base, but followed by stretches of beach where there was more kite surfers than military buildings. We later found out that the base is no longer in operation.

Situated at the harbour of Lorient alongside L’Armor Plage and Port Louis, Gâvres is a sleepy village and its low-lying position means it is at risk of marine flooding, prompting a flurry of actions to prevent damages and to protect the village. One of the recent interventions included redistribution of sand at its beaches.

Gâvres

Gâvres

Gâvres

Gâvres

Gâvres

What I found beautiful yet haunting in Gâvres was the abandonment of old vessels, beached and left exposed to the elements. The fading paints revealed their colourful past, and the rotting woods and beams testaments of their weakening structures. A handful few had only some “core” support remained, their bodies long disintegrated in the water.

Gâvres could be one of those places to get away from everything. Long walks, reading by the beach, boating, getting to really know the peninsula – these are the perks awaiting anyone who’s tired of living the rat race and just want to enjoy simple things. I certainly wouldn’t mind being hole up here for a couple of weeks to recharge my battery.



Category: Europe, France, Travel

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2 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Nice…enjoy the tranquility with a few books or just laze around hehe ;)

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