Of all means of transport, traveling by land has been the most efficient means of commute. Of course, we live on land and virtually everywhere we’d want to go would be land, even if we travel through air or on water, our final destination will be land. Talking of land, then road transport is that ideal option — except crossing a river, sometimes by ferry. But there’s an exception: imagine reaching your destination not just by road, but also waiting for low tides before you can commute. We don’t mean surfing, we mean crossing the sea while its low tide, literally. Dear friends, let’s embark upon ‘Le Passage du Gois.’
Related media: Le Passage du Gois Is A Disappearing Road In France
Le Passage Du Gois
There’s a road in France called ‘Le Passage du Gois,’ which literally translates into English as (you guessed it) “The Passage of Gois.” The road is an extraordinary landmark in France and a national monument; it’s located between Île de Noirmoutier (the island of Noirmoutier) and Beauvoir-sur-Mer, in the department of Vendée, on the Atlantic coast of France, and it’s one of the routes that connects the island to the mainland, the Gulf of Burnёf.
The route has an uneven stone paved causeway that was first used in the 16th century, and it’s still in use today. Before that, people went on foot over the sand banks to the island until the paved road was made. In those days a lot of accidents took place on the Passage du Gois, because of the quickly rising water was underestimated. This was the reason why rescue poles were erected in the event of rapidly rising water or a breakdown, you could climb onto one of these rescue poles.
High Tide Or Low Tide: I’ll Still Crossover
The Passage du Gois is a natural route of the D948 road that stretches about 4.3 kilometers (2.58 miles) from the island of Noirmoutier to mainland France. The only problem with the road is that, it’s only accessible to traffic twice for a few hours each day because the rising tides that periodically flood the road during the rest of the time. The road is only accessible when its low tide which happens about an hour and a half, before the lowest tide of the day, also taking roughly an hour and a half — overall, it only takes just a few hours for motorists to commute.
At high tide, the entire road submerges underneath the sea roughly 1.5 to 4 meters (13 feet) afterward. It is flooded twice a day by the high tide. So here’s the catch: If you have to cross the Passage du Gois, you only have two chances within a day to do so, and if unfortunately you miss your chance, well, sorry, you’d have to pack an inflatable boat for driving — you might disappear beneath the salty brine. But for your own safety, ask about the tide times; and for all purposes, strictly follow the advice given on the panels installed at both ends of the route, which will inform you if the route is passable or not.
However, this is prohibited by law, but tolerated to dwell on the foreshore; its also strictly forbidden to park on the pavement. Who would even do such a thing? Due to the tides, slippery seaweed is left all over the causeway. In attempts to avoid skidding over the road, drive as slow as possible as you can, which would help you avoid the sudden braking when needed. In general, operate the vehicle controls carefully. In case of dense fog, turn on your headlights and your fog lights front and rear (if available). Trucks and buses can drive only in one direction, from the mainland to the island.
(Seems like this is the only road in the world where all traffic regulations are strictly enforced by motorists, no law enforcement).
Tour De Passage Du Gois
In 1999, the Passage du Gois was used for Tour de France bicycle racing during the second stage. It proved to be decisive for the race after a fall took place because of its slippery surface. The crash created a six-minute split in the peloton which ended the hopes of many favorites to win the race, like Alex Zülle, who would eventually finish second overall, seven minutes after Lance Armstrong. And again in 2011, the Passage du Gois was used as the starting point of the first stage.
Here’s the kicker: Since June 1987, and every year after, ’les Foulées du Gois’ takes place. This is a race on foot against the rising water. Thousands of runners participate in this big event, but very unusual, the professional athletes are the last to start when seawater level is up their running shoes.
The Passage du Gois also attracts a lot of shell seekers. They are looking for the edible shells as cockles. With low tide you will see the French on with their head to the ground in search of all sort of edible sea shells, which they will be eating at lunch with a delicious glass of the local white wine. There’s really a lot of cool stuff going on in France.
Read more facts like this one in your inbox. Sign up for our daily email here.
The Factionary is ever ready to provide you with more interesting content for your reading pleasure. If you’re amazed by our work, you can support us on Patreon with a donation fee of your choice. Thank you!
Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Apr 02, 2019.