Saturday, 18 November 2017

Saint Seurin d'Uzet - Chilly potterings in the SW of France

Saint-Serin d'Uzet (also called Chenac-Saint-Seurin-d'Uzet since a merger) is a small village on the right bank of the Gironde estuary, South West France with a tiny port, a church and a chateau. The day we visited it was offering howling wind and icy temperatures.

It is, however, caviar which is its greatest claim to fame. It was the most important producer of caviar from the female Sturgeon fish in France and possibly only one of two important suppliers in Europe in the past.

Around 1920 a white russian got the inhabitants to start producing caviar. Fifteen years later it was in full production and in the 50s the annual production reached 3-5 tonnes. The sturgeon became rare and fishing for it was outlawed from 1982. The museum was not open and functioning when we visited.

The village is in the heart of Pineau country meaning lots of a particular wine from the Charente region and the village is included in the area that produces cognac.

In this part of France's geography the estuary is near and so the river is very, very wide and it was difficult to see the other side of the river. We watched container ships moving up and down the river to Bordeaux while the weather made up its mind to rain or not.

We were surprised to see an ancient roman town being excavated. Originally it was by the sea but over 2000 years the sea has retreated leaving some cliffs so the old village is stranded a bit further inland though can be subject to flooding at times.

The old church is still functioning of sorts but I doubt there are many avid church-goers here. The population is small and sometimes seasonal.
The church is quite old with Roman style architecture. The sea comes up right alongside.

While in the area we visted Royan near the mouth of the Gironde. It's a beach resort sort of place but wet, windy and cold when we visited so we had to use our imagination as to how it might seem in Summer.
The houses have some interesting architecture.

 I finished off my visit to this area by sharing a little Kiwi culture; making a pavlova in the kitchen of a local couple - she French, he American.

We stayed a night with them before heading back home. The internet networks can certainly facilitate unexpected meetings and sharings.


Lyn said...

Thanks for sharing this trip,it triggered a few memories as I can remember working in a beach cafe/restaurant in Royan, summer 1982(Plage du Chay)where lobsters,crabs and fish were cooked on huge grills,A magical time when young and in love!!
Also worked that year in St Seurin de Cadourne picking grapes(wonder if that was near where you visited)
I'll have to say I'm very sorry you have to leave France,especially as you were successful in your French citizenship application,doesn't seem fair on you
I'm one of the many UK nationals trying to obtain same(and kicking myself for not doing it before) For 20 years I met all criteria for Naturalisation,work,house French husband and kids etc but 2 yrs before Brexit, divorced, 2 years unemployment and stupidly(with hindsight) bought a small house in UK to pay my rental here,so no longer meet "centre of finances should be France" criteria,just hoping the French children(young adults now)andprevious work history will maybe get me through
Wishing you all the best for your return to NZ and never say never Bonne Chance

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