and Villages of the Vendee
This is the
most southerly town on the Atlantic coast of the Vendée and it is the Mussel
capital of France, with over 20% of the Nation’s production being cultivated in
the estuary of the River Lay and the Anse de l'Aiguillon.
fishing port, which for a long time was the port of the Abbey of St.Michel, is
still an active if small fishing port today and on the quayside there are
several stalls where fresh fish and mussels can be bought. On the old bridge
that connects L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer and its neighbour La Faute-sur-Mer one can
observe the locals fishing using 'carrelets a square net which is lowered into
the rising tide in an attempt to catch ells, shrimps and crabs.
centre, set back from the river, can easily be missed. It boasts an old church,
an active main street with shops, bars and cafes and is surrounded by streets of
small white washed cottages.
The main tourist road runs alongside the river
before turning to cross the bridge. Between the road and the river with its
harbour are two man made lakes with what must be the safest salt water beaches
in the Vendee. There are the usual refreshment establishments for the beach
users and a play area for children together with a water slide. The second lake
is home to the sailing school where one can take lessons.
As one would
expect there are an ample number of eateries from pizza houses to restaurants
however it is as one would expect the seafood restaurants that
who want to explore the more natural aspect of L'Aiguillon then a trip along the
road to the 'point de L'Aiguillon' will not disappoint, on its left are the
views across the polder lands, the fen-like fields that were reclaimed from the
sea. Rising out of them is the islet of 'Dive' where once the sea lapped against
the cliffs which towers a dizzy 15m above the low lying fields, It is just a few
tightly packed houses and is both unique and charming. Scattered along the road
one can also view the various oyster farms, where oysters are matured and
harvested and can indeed be purchased.
On the right of the road is the river,
and for 5 kms this is bordered by a large concrete Dyke built by the Dutch who
helped drain the land a century ago. It was built to protect the low lying
fields from the rising tides, this does obscure the view of the river from the
road but there are several primitive steps curved into the Dyke and a couple of
entrances through the dyke which enable one to get a view of the small harbours
and boat moorings as well as some small (somewhat muddy at low tide) sandy
The Road terminates at the point; here one can leave ones
transport and ramble over the dunes to more beaches and to the nature reserve
where thousands of wading birds can be seen. Views out across the Ains de
L'Aiguillon reveal the immense extent of the mussel farms, where thousands of
poles (bouchets) are anchored into the mud with ropes attached to them. The
mussels cling to the ropes, grow and are then be harvested.