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Mortagne sur Gironde - discover its unique heritage

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May 17, 2024


Mortagne sur Gironde: discover its unique heritage


Are you looking for a destination that is both original and full of authenticity for your next holiday? Let yourself be tempted by the unique charm of Mortagne-sur-Gironde. This picturesque village, nestled on the edge of the Gironde estuary in the splendid Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, is waiting for you.

Mortagne-sur-Gironde is full of heritage treasures, reflecting its rich and complex history. You will be amazed by its Romanesque style church, its captivating troglodyte hermitage, its houses steeped in history and its always bustling port.

Mortagne sur Gironde - View of Mortagne and the estuary

Mortagne sur Gironde – View of Mortagne and the estuary


Nature is also in the spotlight, with its imposing cliffs, wild marshes and vineyards as far as the eye can see. And what about the local gastronomy? Between fresh oysters, Pineau des Charentes and cognac, your taste buds will also be on holiday.

We invite you to dive into the fascinating world of Mortagne-sur-Gironde, a real jewel of charm and history. Get ready for a stay that promises to be both exotic and rejuvenating.

A village full of charm and history

The origins of Mortagne sur Gironde

Mortagne sur Gironde is a village rich in history, whose origins date back to the Roman occupation, symbolised by the presence of a Berber garrison (Castrum Mauretaniae: the camp of the Moors). This village has survived the centuries with a history made up of Norman invasions, the Hundred Years’ War, the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution.

Elevated to the rank of principality after the Hundred Years’ War, Mortagne sur Gironde lost this status over time. A former military fortress with a castle and fortifications, only a few traces remain of this past today.

The Upper Town and the Lower Town: Two Faces of Mortagne

Mortagne sur Gironde is divided into two distinct sectors taking advantage of their unique geographical location: the “upper town”, located on imposing cliffs at one end of the Cretaceous plateau of Saintonge, and the “lower town” or “the Shore”, positioned at the bottom of the cliffs, around the marina, in a formerly marshy area.

Offering a striking panorama of the Gironde estuary, the largest in Europe, the upper town is renowned for its belvedere equipped with an orientation table, allowing you to admire the estuary. This area is home to the Romanesque style church of Saint-Étienne dating from the twelfth century, and its fifteenth-century frescoes. The upper town, the heart of the inhabitants’ lives, is distinguished by its shopping streets, historic houses and weekly market.

The lower town represents the economic and tourist centre, with its historic port, which was once the third largest in Gironde. Now transformed into an attractive marina, it welcomes fishing, leisure and cruise boats. Its edge is embellished with old flour mills, which have been converted into bars, restaurants and shops, becoming a place of vibrant economic activity in summer.

The jewels of Mortagna’s heritage

The Ermitage Saint-Martial and its fascinating history

Lovers of unusual places steeped in history, the Ermitage Saint-Martial is a must-visit. Located 800 metres from the port of Mortagne, this troglodyte complex was initially founded in the third century by Saint-Martial, during the first bishop of Limoges, and has been remodelled over the centuries.

This exceptional place includes several cells, a refectory, a kitchen and a remarkable monolithic church, carved directly into the rock. It is considered one of the most impressive in the southwest of France. You will discover its tribune, its statue of Saint Anthony of Egypt and that of Saint-Martial, the patron saint of the place. A belvedere also offers a breathtaking view of the Gironde estuary.

Visits to the hermitage are by reservation and are under your responsibility.

The port of Mortagne: a must-see place

In the heart of the village, the port of Mortagne shines with its history. A former flourishing commercial port and the third largest port in Gironde in the mid-twentieth century, it is now a lively marina. It welcomes fishing, leisure and cruising boats in a friendly atmosphere.

The port is surrounded by marshes offering a rich fauna and flora, suitable for observation. A walk along the estuary quay will take you past former flour mills converted into bars, restaurants and shops. It is a lively place to enjoy oysters, pineau and cognac, local specialties.

Architecture and historic buildings

Mortagne-sur-Gironde is rich in architectural heritage, witness to a prestigious past. The church of Saint-Étienne, a Romanesque jewel of the twelfth century, houses exceptional frescoes from the fifteenth century.

The Postcard Museum, set up in an old mansion, traces the history of the village through old postcards. Stroll through the streets of the upper town to admire historic mansions such as the Prince of Mortagne’s House, the Bailiff’s House, and the Seneschal’s House.

Don’t miss the Stone and Water Village, a unique set of cave houses nestled in the cliff, home to artisans and artists.

Surrounding nature to explore

Walks around the port and in the lower town

Discover the enchanting setting of Mortagne-sur-Gironde, a haven of peace nestled between estuary, marshes and cliffs. Enjoy a walk around the picturesque harbor and through the lower town. Here, the authentic charm of white houses, fishermen’s huts and carrelets – the traditional stilts used for net fishing – is offered to you.

As you explore, you’ll also have the opportunity to observe the marshes’ rich biodiversity, including protected species such as otter, grey heron, and yellow iris. Don’t miss the fascinating spectacle of the tides that redraw the landscape at every moment of the day.

Hiking routes: discover the Mortagne countryside

Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted in Mortagne-sur-Gironde, thanks to a variety of routes to explore the beautiful Mortagne countryside. Whether short or long, easy or more demanding, these tours will take you through vineyard hillsides, green valleys, picturesque villages and exceptional views of the estuary.

Explore, for example, the circuit of the blue fountains of Château de Beaulon, which winds through vineyards and forests to a water spring with astonishing bluish reflections. Or let yourself be tempted by the circuit from the port to the cliffs of Mortagne-sur-Gironde, offering an unforgettable panorama of the estuary and its islands.

La Gravelle: a preserved natural area

Not far from Mortagne-sur-Gironde, La Gravelle invites you to discover a preserved natural area, under the management of the Conservatoire du Littoral. Once a wine estate, it is now a biodiversity sanctuary, home to wild orchids, rare butterflies, bats and migratory birds.

A visit to this estate will also allow you to discover a rich built heritage, including an eighteenth-century castle, a nineteenth-century chapel and a seventeenth-century dovecote. For an enriching experience, the visit of the Gravelle is by reservation, accompanied by a guide.


Mortagne-sur-Gironde is an exceptional village to visit, both for its unique heritage and for the natural wonders that surround it. This charming historic village has preserved its authenticity and welcoming atmosphere. Among its treasures, you can admire impressive monuments such as the Saint-Étienne church, the Saint-Martial hermitage, or the postcard museum.

The village also offers a remarkable natural setting, consisting of lush estuaries, peaceful marshes and majestic cliffs. In addition, you will have the opportunity to savor delicious local specialties, among which oysters, pineau, and cognac stand out.

Don’t wait any longer, plan your next holiday in Mortagne-sur-Gironde now. This picturesque village, nestled between stones and waters, promises you memorable moments.


What are the main historical monuments to visit in Mortagne sur Gironde?

In Mortagne sur Gironde, don’t miss a visit:

  • The monolithic hermitage of the second century, an impressive troglodyte hermitage carved into the cliff and enlarged in the eighteenth century.
  • The 12th-century Saint-Etienne church, a jewel of Plantagenet Romanesque architecture, famous for its sculpted capitals in the transept.
  • The Beaumont Tower, a medieval tower overlooking the port, offering panoramic views of the Gironde estuary.

How to get to Mortagne sur Gironde from Bordeaux or La Rochelle?

From Bordeaux or La Rochelle, you have several options:

  • All aboard: The fastest route is via the E5 motorway to Mortagne-sur-Gironde. It takes about 93 km from Bordeaux (1 hour) and 75 km from La Rochelle (50 minutes).
  • By train: Take the TER to Saujon, then the bus to Mortagne-sur-Gironde. Allow about 2 hours from Bordeaux and 1 hour 30 minutes from La Rochelle, for a cost of about 20 euros from Bordeaux and 15 euros from La Rochelle.

What are the water and outdoor activities to do in Mortagne sur Gironde?

Enjoy the following outdoor activities:

  • Cycling along the Gironde estuary, from the charming village of Mortagne-sur-Gironde to Talmont-sur-Gironde.
  • Hike in the Royannais, starting in Mortagne-sur-Gironde to explore the right bank of the estuary and admire exceptional panoramas.

What are the local products and culinary specialties to taste in Mortagne sur Gironde?

Discover and savour the local specialities:

  • The oysters of Mr. Yves Papin, to be enjoyed at the Comptoir de la Rive with a view of the port.
  • Cheeses, breads and edible oils from Domaine Imbert, committed to Demeter certified production, which respects biodynamic agriculture.
  • Local and artisanal pastries, such as croquants, palets, galettes, gatopineau, chocolatin, croquines, or the pralinoise available at the Ombrrail farm or at the biscuit factory Le Chant du Coq.
  • Wines and spirits from the region, such as Pineau des Charentes, cognac, or Vin de Pays Charentais, from Daniel and Jeanne Lain, producers with the Nature & Progrès label.