The island of Noirmoutier sits just off the coast of Brittany in northwest France. It is known for fine sand beaches, prized local salt and shellfish, and plants and animals that thrive in its wet and marshy terrain. Le polder Sebastopol, an Adventure in the island town of Barbatre, focuses on the natural landscape as it guides adventurers through a nature preserve on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. Put on your rubber boots and get ready to explore this special place.
The name of the Adventure, Le polder Sebastopol, which is also the name of the nature preserve, has its roots in the agricultural history of the region. Polder is a Dutch word that describes low-lying land that is reclaimed from the sea to be used for farming. Farmers created the polder in the 19th century to use as farming land, but after years of flooding made the land unsuitable for farming, the Noirmoutier community recreated the area as a nature reserve.
As you walk through marshy land searching for answers to the questions at each Adventure Location, you will get a close look at a unique island ecosystem and landscape. Of special interest are the Locations near the “Gois” and the mudflats.
The fourth listed Location for the non-sequential Adventure is Le Gois. The “Gois” is a 4.2 kilometer causeway that connects Noirmoutier to mainland France. Until 1971 it was the only road connecting the island to the mainland. However, despite the important connection it provided for many years, the road appears only for a few hours each day. To see the causeway, you must visit within a 1.5 hour window before or after low tide. At all other times, the road is underwater.
For fans of wildlife, the Adventure’s Location at the mudflats (les vasières) in the nature preserve is sure to stand out. The mudflats are a preferred resting spot and feeding ground for many types of birds before they migrate. After answering the question at the Location, see if you can spot any of the 210 species of birds that visit Noirmoutier.
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