The shortage of bridges in St Gilles Croix de Vie is one of the tip-offs that, despite some ageing architecture, the town itself is still pretty young.
In fact, it was only four years before I was born that the two opposing sides of the River Vie - the communes of St Gilles and Croix de Vie - were united into the single town we know today. La Concorde ('friendship') bridge above is actually two parallel bridges, and as such makes up two-thirds of the bridges holding the new town together, not that I suppose all the inhabitants who use the river are that bothered:
Given the abundance of camp sites around the area, it was only a matter of time before someone started offering boat trips along this river, one company coming up with the ingenious name of Visa Vie.
So, now you know what Mum and I got up to this afternoon. I'll let the written English translation of our captain's live French commentary take it from here...
"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We welcome you aboard the Aigrette. This barge was built in the region of Marennes d' Oleron. Its original use was in the harvesting of oysters until it was converted for passenger transport."
"Today, St Gilles is the 10th most important fishing port in France with around 250 sailors working on 80 boats."
"On your right, at the top of the pier, you can see a cannon which came from an English frigate, the Maidstone, which sank in 1747 near Noirmoutier. Fifteen years ago, a team of divers salvaged three of these cannons from the wreckage of the Maidstone."
"We are now in front of the dam called 'Le Barrage des Vallées'. The dam prevents the water from flooding the land and divides the river into two different ecosystems."
"We have come to the end of our trip. Thank you, and I hope you have a pleasant stay here in Vendée. For safety reasons, please remain seated until the boat has docked."
(Day 1: Lost In France here)
(Day 2: Culture Shop! here)
(Day 3: France Plants here)
(Day 4: All Alone On The Site here)
(Day 5: The Haunting Of Cabin 88 here)
(Day 6: Saint-Gilles-Croix-De-Vie here)
(Day 7: SunDay Service here)
(Day 9: Olonne Sea here)
(Day 10: Camp Sights here)
(Day 11: Nantes Jaunt here)