Gironde is a navigable estuary (often falsely referred to as a river), in southwest France and is
formed from the meeting of the rivers Dordogne and Garonne just below
the centre of Bordeaux.
Gironde is approximately 65 km (38 miles) long and
3–11 km (2–7 miles) wide and the French département Gironde is named
The Gironde is subject to very strong tidal
currents and great care is needed when navigating the river by any
size or type of boat.
World War II
The Gironde was the setting for Operation Frankton
, a British special
forces operation during World War II tasked with the objective of
destroying shipping moored at the docks in Bordeaux.
Islands of the Gironde
Within the estuary between the Pointe
de la Grave
at the seaward end and le bec d’Ambes
are a series of small
The Île de Patiras
in size with a lighthouse to aid
navigation in the estuary. Vines and maize are grown there.
The Île de Sans-Pain
Île de Bouchaud
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
The Île du Fort Paté
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 eqipped with about 30 cannon. Fort Paté together with
Fort Médoc and the Citadelle of
defended the estuary and Bordeaux. During the French
Revolution the fort was used as a prison for priests.
In 2006, the Conseil General
the decision 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.
The Île Verte
Île du Nord
and Île Cazeau
comprise about 800 ha and
because of their natural state provide a fine stopping off place
for migrating birds.
Île Margaux is 25 ha and in
2005 had 14 ha devoted to vines and is part of the world
famous Médoc wine
- 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.