Friday, November 14, 2014

Learn about life on the Garonne in Couthures

Kayaks are set to launch onto the river in Couthures-sur-Garonne.

A day trip to Couthures-sur-Garonne combines beauty, learning, and (in the summer) recreation. Located on France’s fifth longest river, the Garonne, this pretty village is worth a visit any time of year. In the high season, the river and hiking and biking paths through the Val de Garonne make this a popular, but not over-crowded destination. In cooler months the town retains its charms, and thanks to the interpretive center, Maison des Gens de Garonne.

La Corderie is open May through September for visitors
to learn about rope making, knots and fishing.

La Maison des Gens de Garonne offers two films, one in 3D, along with a terrace café and boutique. The films chronicle the history of life on the river. They’re in French, but headsets with English translation are offered. The day of our visit, it had been raining in the morning but the sun is shining brilliantly when we arrive in Couthures. We stop by the interpretive center, but decide to go on une promenade instead of sitting in a dark theater. We will leave that for another day, one in which we can bring along some jeunes amis who we think will enjoy the 3D film and interactive treasure hunt. If we return in the summer, we can visit L’ancienne Corderie and ride on a pirate ship.

We are provided with a map of a randonnée that starts in the village and continues on a 4.7 km loop through trees and fields.

Trees along the randonnée in Couthures-sur-Garonne
Un champ de maïs along the randonnée in

Barns along the randonnée in Couthures-sur-Garonne. I was startled by a
pheasant just as I snapped this picture.

A site in Couthures-sur-Garonne

Back in the village, the first order of business it to find something cold to drink (I had forgotten to bring water with us on the walk). Thankfully, a little bar is open and happy to sell us a beer and iced tea.

A cannon at the site of Couthures’s original suspension bridge.
Cannons were used from the late 19th century to warn of flooding.

Our thirsts quenched, we walk the streets of the village and admire the remains of Couthures’s original suspension bridge and a neo-Romanesque-style church built in 1848.

A site in Couthures-sur-Garonne

Un coq atop a monument in Couthures-sur-Garonne

Couthure’s church is the village’s third, as the first two were
destroyed. This one was designed by Gustav Allaux, a
disciple of the famous architect Viollet-le-Duc.

A portion of the old ramparts in Couthures-sur-Garonne

For more about Couthures-sur-Garonne, visit the Val de Garonne tourist office website. The Gens de Garonne website has details about hours and tariffs.

I include this picture of a sign in Couthures, only because it makes me giggle.

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