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Passage du Gois
In 1971 a bridge was built to cross the 700 metre gap between the Ile de Noirmoutier and the mainland,
before that there were only two ways to reach the island, either by
boat or via the Passage du Gois. This uneven stone paved causeway was
first used during the XVI century as the Baie de Bourgneuf gradually
silted up. Today the causeway attracts thousands of visitors a year to
watch the twice daily uncovering of the 4.5 kilometres of road as it
miraculously appears from the sea during the ebbing tide. Visitors come
to walk, cycle or drive across the Gois (from the local patois "goiser"
meaning to wade), the locals also come to fish 'by foot', especially at
low spring tides when the vast expanses of sand which are rich in all
manner of shell fish are exposed.
A word of caution, thoroughly check the tide tables, they are marked on
either side of the causeway on large signs because as the area is very
flat the tide rises at an incredible rate and many visitors every
year get caught out. There are a few " balises", large sturdy wooden
towers, which one can climb and wait until you are rescued or the tide
During the Wars of the Vendée,
both the Republican and Vendéen armies used the causeway to surprise
the opposition and the Ile de Noirmoutier changed hands several times.
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