Noirmoutier is an island off the west coast of France in the Vendée Départment of the Loire Atlantique province. Its capital is Noirmoutier-en-l’Île. Because the island was separated from the mainland (known by Noirmoutrins simply as "the continent"), it has evolved its own culture and a casual, cheerful, laid-back attitude.
Cultural influences are primarily Breton. This often surprises visitors who don’t expect to hear music and see dances similar to the Celtic cultures of northern Britain, including bagpipes, traditionally performed on Noirmoutier.
Noirmoutier was first settled by St. Philbert, the island's patron saint, in the 13th century, and gets its name—which means "black monks"—from order's black cowls. During the French revolution, the island remained a royalist stronghold but was ultimately captured by the revolutionaries, who shot the royalist general as he sat in his chair on the beach.
In the early 1800s, a causeway called the “Passage du Gois” was constructed linking the island with the mainland. Until a
A little about Noirmoutier
ANome do site sabe que arquitetura envolve muito mais que simplesmente projetar edifícios. Nós trabalhamos em conjunto com os clientes para criar...
bridge was built at the south end of the island in the 1970s, the Gois was the only land link to the continent. It is under water twice a day when the tide comes in. Today digital signs caution motorists when to avoid starting the four-kilometer trek, but every year, some visitors don’t heed the warning. When the tide rolls in — and it’s said it can come in as fast as a galloping horse — many a car has been submerged. Iconic escape towers, shown above, are placed every kilometer, providing a refuge for those who don't heed the signs.
Major industries on the island include traditional wooden boat making and restoration, fishing, cultivating oysters and mussels, harvesting a fine grade of sea salt, and growing a small gourmet potato called the “Bonnotte.” The slightly salty, nutty-tasting spud derives its flavor from the salinated soil and from being fertilized with seaweed. It is especially sought by fine chefs throughout Europe and the first harvest of the year can fetch more than $80 a pound.
During World War II, the island was occupied by the German military which soon turned it into part of the Atlantikwall, constructing blockhouses (right) and other beach fortifications that ring the island to protect the U-boat pens across the channel in Ste. Nazaire. Most of these bombproof concrete megaliths can still be seen today. Through historical programs, Noirmoutrin World War II re-enactors display the islanders' eternal gratitude for their American liberators.