The Gironde estuary in Pauillac
Map of France with the Gironde highlighted
|Length||75 km (47 mi)|
|Basin size||635 km2 (245 sq mi)|
|⁃ minimum||3 km (1.9 mi)|
|⁃ maximum||12 km (7.5 mi)|
The Gironde (// zhi-ROND, US usually /-/ ji-, French: [ʒiʁɔ̃d] (listen); Occitan: Gironda) is a navigable estuary (though often referred to as a river) in southwest France and is formed from the meeting of the rivers Dordogne and Garonne just downstream of the centre of Bordeaux. Covering around 635 km2 (245 sq mi), it is the largest estuary in western Europe.
The Gironde is approximately 75 km (47 mi) long and 3–12 km (2–7 miles) wide and the French département Gironde is named after it. The Gironde is subject to very strong tidal currents and great care is needed when navigating the estuary by any size or type of boat.
Since 2015, the Gironde estuary has been part of the Gironde estuary and Pertuis sea Marine Nature Park.
Islands of the Gironde
The Île Sans-Pain and Île Bouchaud are now virtually joined due to progressive silting and are referred to as the Ile Nouvelle. They total about 265 ha and are owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral and managed by the Department of the Gironde.
The Île Paté is about 13 ha and in 2006 was privately owned. The island has a historic fort built between 1685 and 1693 as part of the national fortification program masterminded by Vauban. The building is oval in shape, about 12 metres high and was originally equipped with about 30 cannon. Fort Paté, together with Fort Médoc and the ancient citadelle of Blaye, defended the estuary and Bordeaux. During the French Revolution the fort was used as a prison for priests.
In 2006, the Conseil General decided to make the island a ZPENS (zone de pre-emption espace naturel sensible). ZPENS status protects the island from development. If the owner wishes to sell the island then the Department has a pre-emptive right. After two months the Conservatoire National du Littoral has the next pre-emptive right and then after another 2 months the town of Blaye has a final pre-emptive right to acquire the island.
Second World War
The plan was for six kayaks (called "canoes" by the British) to be taken to the area of the Gironde estuary by submarine. Twelve men would then paddle by night to Bordeaux. On arrival they would attack the docked cargo ships with limpet mines and then escape overland to Spain.
The raid was carried out by a small unit of Royal Marines known as the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD), part of Combined Operations, led by Herbert 'Blondie' Hasler. They succeeded in slipping into the harbour unnoticed and sank one ship and severely damaged four others. Only two of the men returned to the UK alive, but they did enough damage to greatly disrupt the use of the harbour for the following months.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gironde estuary.|
- The information relating to the protected status of Île Paté and the general information relating to the other islands is public domain information which was summarised as part of an article in the regional 'Sud Ouest' newspaper dated 3 October 2006.
- "Gironde". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
- "Gironde". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
- "Gironde". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
- (C) Parc naturel marin sur l'estuaire de Gironde et sur les Pertuis Charentais : l'étude est lancée Archived 2011-05-09 at the Wayback Machine Agence des aires marines protégées/French Marine Protected Areas Agency, published 2008-07-25, accessed 2011-03-30