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Barrel On The Dordogne Courtesy Fabrice Colas And Phillipe Garrigues Courtesy Dominique Maldonado
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Gironde Estuary, France


The seventy kilometre long Gironde Estuary is formed by the confluence of the Dorodgne and Garonne rivers 23km north of Bordeaux. Located between the Médoc and the Cotes vineyards, the estuary is the great artery of the Bordeaux wine region. Many tranquil villages line its banks, where life passes slowly in a relaxed french ambiance.

But for four or five days around the new or full moon the peace of the river is disturbed. For the large spring tides herald the coming of the mascaret. Over its length the estuary narrows from around eleven to three kilometres, and before reaching the fork at Bayon a wave is visible at the head of the incoming tide. In fact the bore can be sighted earlier from the rural town of Cotes de Blaye with its overlooking citadel.

The mascaret continues its course up the Garonne breaking as fast barrelling waves in certain short sections finally dying out around Cadillac. On the Dordogne the mascaret passes through a long stretch of meandering river. On one long horseshore-like bend the river passes the ports of St Pardon and Vayres. It is here, as the early workers start about their day, that the bore riders congregate to ride the mascaret.

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