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Lift nets, a typical aspect of Charentaise culture.

Discover the Charentaise lift nets, typical of the Charentaise culture.

Practiced on the coasts of Charente-Maritime, lift-net fishing is an activity typical of the region.

Lift-net fishing is practiced on the coasts in the Charente-Maritime area and in the estuaries of the Charente, the Seudre and the Gironde. It is also practiced on the coasts of the Vendée area and at the mouth of the Loire. But this tradition, however, has tended to disappear in these northernmost regions.

The lift nets, sentinels of the coastline, the common point of all rivers.

A lift net is a kind of square mesh mounted on two hoops and hanging from a winch, which is guided by a pontoon. Until the 19th century, lift nets were considered to be a professional fishing tool. They are now part of the coastal heritage and attract the curiosity of passers-by.

The first lift nets on pontoons appeared after the First World War. These pontoons were taken out to where the sea bass were known to be found, which allows the practice of fishing at any time without having to rely on the tides. Small wooden huts were set up around them to serve as shelter.

The net is suspended from a pole, which is lowered and raised with the aid of a winch. Lift net fishing can be done in three different ways: from a dock or boat, on foot or from the parapet of a building.

Where to see the traditional lift nets of the Charentais coast?

See the lift nets in the region of Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. You can watch them by following the footpath towards the Grande Côte, from the devil's bridge. They can appear isolated on the rocks or form picturesque alignments at the conch du Concié and around the Well of the Auture. They are also found on the foreshore of the cliffs of Esnandes.

Many of the lift nets were destroyed by the storms of December 1999 and February 2010. But fortunately many of them have been rebuilt respecting the traditions.

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