Office de Tourisme***
Avenue des Lacs - BP 11
Tel. 0033 (0)5 58 43 32 15
Fax 0033 (0)5 58 43 32 66
Year-round : Mondays to Saturdays: 9:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 18:00
July and August: 9:00 - 19:00, on Sundays 10:00 - 14:00 and 16:00 - 19:00
The village and the ocean are joined by 5 kilometres through the forest, lined by a cycle trail. The Tourist Office will offer you to discover its history and heritage through two different circuits.
Before beginning the circuit n° 1, just go to the art studio Rémi Bertoche and to the photos gallery, Addend'art Galerie :
Exhibition, sale, lessons for all levels.
Demonstrations are given every Monday.
Special orders are possible by appointment.
3 Porte de Laubian - ZA de Laubian
Tel. 05 58 72 16 31 - 06 81 96 56 26
Laurent Ressicaud centers his photographs on les Landes, in every season revealing its beauty, light and contrasts.
Permanent exhibition : Addend'art galerie is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11:00 to 18:00.
Off season : please phone before coming.
ZA de Laubian - 3 Avenue de Laubian - Route de Tosse
Funfair games for everybody from age 2. Numerous attractions : trampolining, shooting gallery, game of skill, duck fishing, Minnie pouss pouss, waterball, Minnie merry go round and other games... New option : buy your tokens at the central cash desk for all attractions.
Come along, free car park. Open 7 days a week in July and August from 17:30 to 00:30.
Le Forum, near Atlantic Park.
Duration : 2 hours walk discovering the nature reserve of Etang Noir
Starting point : Tourist Office.
Follow the Avenue des Lacs to reach Seignosse Bourg (5 minutes drive)
The word Seignosse derives probably from the name of a man called Sennius + the suffix from Aquitaine (before the Latin language) -otz or -otze (which gives -ossa (therefore -osse). This suffix means the place where someone lives, his property.
Seignosse originates therefore from the property of a man called Sennius at the Roman Era.
Axes from the Bronze Age, pottery and numerous signs in the area show that Seignosse had a real human activity in Prehistory. This activity was going on during the Roman occupation and the invasions.
The English presence during the Middle Ages was an event of outstanding importance and the king Edward was particularly concerned by the dune degradation and he issued an edict against people uprooting marram.
An important event changed drastically the landscape and the local economy for 250 years : during the fourteenth century, the river Adour changed of mouth leaving Capbreton for Port d’Albret. Seignosse took on the unexpected appearance of a seamen’s village.
Its inhabitants even tried to cut the dune in order to have the river mouth at Le Penon. The powerful town of Bayonne did not like it at all and suppressed it harshly.
In 1578, a sudden turn of events : the river Adour is diverted to Bayonne. Seignosse has now important marshy areas and it will take many centuries to absorb the extra water.
The inhabitants will be dependant on soil resources and sheep-breeding.
One third of the land surface is devoted to extensive wine-growing as in other parts of the viscounty of Maremne, the wine is then exported towards England. From the middle of the nineteenth century, Seignosse is one of the richest village in the departement for the exploitation of the pine forest and resinous products.
At your arrival in the centre of the village.
You can leave your car in the car park located behind the post office.
Facing the Fronton you will notice the town hall in a neoclassical style. It was built in 1913 as well as the adjacent old school. A beautiful painting is decorating the wedding room. Painted by the artist André Vidal from Bordeaux, this large painting (7 m x 4 m) symbolizes the rural life of the inhabitants of the Landes and their forest work.
The market hall in Seignosse Bourg was created in May 2007.
The “Fronton” (front wall where is played Basque pelota)
Going out of the “Mairie”, the outdoor “Fronton des Ecureuils” is just in front of you.
Basque pelota is played in different kinds of pelota courts. Here are the three different courts : the outdoor front wall facing the “Mairie” in Seignosse Bourg, the “Trinquet” and the indoor second wall to the left, in other words a two walled court, in Centre Sportif Maurice Ravailhe in Seignosse Bourg. A game takes place there every week in July and August.
The outdoor playing area consists of a stone front wall whose standard court size is not strictly established (fronton) and of a court where the ball rebounds. The receiving team may either volley the ball back or allow it to bounce once. To be effective, the ball has to hit the front wall above the horizontal line and bounce back on the playing area. To score a point, the ball has to hit the wall and then bounce back on the playing area at a distance depending on the variation being played :
1. Bare hand : considered as the basic type of play, it is the most natural because there is no need to use an instrument. Just as the pioneers, the players are still striking the ball with the bare hand. This game is played by 2 teams of 2 players
2. Palita (small bat) : this game is played as well outdoor by 2 teams of 2 players but with a small wooden bat Palita to strike the ball..
3. Grosse pala (big bat) : is played following the same rules as Palita but with a heavier bat and ball.
4. Joko Garbi or small glove : is played outdoor by 3 teams of 3 players, with a special curved glove, a sort of glove and wicker basket combination.
5. Grand Chistera : the glove is stronger as the one used for Joko Garbi. Outdoor as well and 3 teams of 3 players.
6. Cesta Punta : 2 teams of 2 players with a glove similar to the one used for Grand Chistera but the ball is faster and is played in a fronton of 56 m with a front wall facing the players, another wall on their left and a rebound wall (rebote) at the back end of the court. (Jaï Alaï in Hossegor was built in 1958 for the world championship. It was the first enclosed court of this type to be built in France. During the summer, famous international tournaments take place there in the evening).
It was erected in 1992 on Tilleuls square which has been called later “place de la Victoire”.
On a granite pedestal with a low relief showing a soldier in the 1914 – 18 war, is erected a bronze statue : a woman seems to drive back the enemy threatening her children. Work by Martial CAUMONT.
You will get to the church which is overlooking the village by walking up Rue de l’Amiral Bérenger
The original church was built in the thirteenth century. It was consecrated to Saint-André, the patron saint of Seignosse. A stained-glass window shows him with the cross reminding his torture. A part of the church was destroyed during the French Revolution. It is stone built. The sacristy and church tower date back from 1870. The Gothic church tower is built with stone of Angoulême. The bell (1616,00 kilograms) was used as fire alarm and has been running since 1853, the clock dates back from 1878.
The plaque on the wall says :
Dubosc de Larrugand (Larrugand is the name of the mayor’s house).
mayor from 3/11/1844 to 4/09/1870.
This edifice was built (read AEDES) by
Desclaux, Etienne Bernard, builder (master joiner in Capbreton).
And Boubé the architect (he did the plan and estimate of the Mairie services, lodging of the school teacher and classroom on 30/05/1843).
New plans were made on 20/07/1845 for the building of two other rooms (one for the mayor where were kept the arms of the national guard. Lavielle year 1846, a builder.(added by the engraver).
Sources: SADIPAC Association.
Next to the church in Seignosse Bourg, a few houses dating back from 15th and 16th century are still existing but restored. Half-timbered houses whose wooden frame is filled with cob and then with small bricks.
Facing the nature reserve of Etang Noir, avenue du Parc des Sports, in Seignosse Bourg.
Clothing was washed every two or three months, when there was no urgent farmwork such as sowing or harvesting. Some of the rural homes had a room dedicated to washing called “lou bugadé” ; if they hadn’t, the wash was made next to the kitchen, the water could then be heated up in the fireplace.
Clothing was laid in a tub (generally half a wooden tub with a bunghole) ; at the bottom were laid the sheets then the smallest pieces and finally a hempen sheet with a layer of ashes on which was poured tepid water first then boiling hot water (the washing power of ashes had been discovered very early, the Celts and the Gauls had used it already).
Clothing was soaking a whole night.
The next morning, it was put in a wheelbarrow or on a yoked cart because the wash house was sometimes several kilometres away. The work at the wash house consisted of hounding the resistant stains with soap and beetle and rinsing the clothing. The “Bugade” was made in several homes at the same time. It was then an opportunity for the washerwomen to meet there.
The story of the public wash house
Georgette Laporte Castede writes in “Pain de Seigle et Vin de Grives” the story of the public wash house in Cachen.
A good old priest tired of listening the endless confessions of the married women of the village about their escapade, asked them to say “I fell in the public wash house, once, twice, three times…” instead of confessing their frivolity.
When he retired, he asked the mayor to tell his young successor this agreement but the mayor forgot to do it.
Puzzled by the number of times that the fall in the wash house was mentioned in the confessions of the women, the young priest got upset and told it to the mayor so that he could take measures to avoid pneumonia and drowning.
Profoundly upset, he took the mayor to the wash house and ordered him to take measures.
The mayor burst out laughing.
“But Your Worship it is nonsense ! even your wife fell sometimes in this damned wash house !”
The mayor stopped laughing and the unfortunate man left the village.
Not far from the public wash house
By avenue du Parc des Sports – Tél. 05 58 72 85 76
The Etang Noir is located upstream of stretches of water continuing through the north towards Etang Blanc, Etang de Hardy and Etang de Soustons. They were formed during the dune-building process. The word Etang Noir derives from its depth, from the colour of its water and the numerous trees lining it.
Historically the Etang Noir was a researching site. Jean Rostand and Pierre Darré were working on the “abnormality P” involving common frogs living there (abnormality more or less important of the rear limbs at the larval stage.
Nowadays, this nature reserve is exceptional for its varied flora and fauna which represent a synthesis of this type of ecosystem.
The nature reserve was created in the 1970s. A 30 to 450 m wide shore belt covers some 52 hectares while the stretch of water itself covers only 20 hectares. The stretch of water is 1550 m long and 150 m wide and its maximum depth is about 4 m but it is quite difficult to gauge.
The site offers a characteristic landscape of wet moors : dense and lush marsh made accessible by a 1 km long wooden footbridge.
Guided visits during the season, year-round book ahead.
In July and August :
Admission : 3,50 € per pers. (from age 6).
Admission : 3 € per pers. (from age 6)
From September to June :
Guided visits and educational workshops on reservation.
Groups must book ahead to visit the Nature Reserve.
Open day on Sunday 07 July : discovering the nature reserve, workshops, exhibitions.
Réserve Naturelle de l’Étang Noir
Avenue du Parc des Sports
Tel/Fax : 05 58 72 85 76
Opening time of the pavilion :
The tale of Etang Noir
The castle of the baron of Seignosse was so beautiful with its nice donjon and its four towers. From these towers the ocean could be seen and the walls mirrored in the Etang Blanc water. It was built with the beautiful stone of Bidache. The overlord of the castle, the powerful Eric had kept from his Norman ancestors a few characteristic features, he was very tall and adventurous. At the announcement of the crusade, he covered his armour with a red cross chasuble and left for Palestine.
One day, after years, the inhabitants of the village saw again the silver gonfalon at the top of the donjon. The overlord had come back. They organized a feast but the handsome lord was still gloomy and the inhabitants were fearing a new tithe. Well, no, the lord did not ask anything else, accepting the accounts of the aldermen and of the intendant. But he did not leave his castle. He did not even go to the invitations of the lords of the neighbourhood, boar or roe deer hunting or feasts in the village. Nobody could see him and tongues were wagging. The masons were sent for building a nice garden with fine colonnettes at the top of the donjon where the guard could not go. The soldiers were curious and worried, they said that the lord had arrived at night with a companion without equipage and that he locked himself in his apartments.
Shortly after, it was said that this companion was a beautiful Saracen woman who was singing at night and playing the guitar. Nobody heard her voice but the guitar was resounding far off on cloudless night and west wind.
The baron was so respected that nobody said anything although some people were whispering that the priest of Seignosse had not been sent for celebrating Mass since the return of Eric ; and on Sundays, the bell of the chapel was not heard any longer. The poor received neither alms nor hospitality any more at the castle.
The days went by. It was said that the baron was doing alchemy searching for the philosopher’s stone. At night the north tower was glowing and people called it the tower of the Devil and they made the sign of the cross.
One day, a wizened pilgrim stopped in the village. He was carrying the scrip and the staff with the shell of Saint James. His clothes were in shreds and he was wounded by dog bites. He just came back from the castle where his wound had been dressed and he said to the elders who met there to talk about the corvée: “Woe to you, people of Seignosse, Tosse and Las Murailles, if you stand by your lord, woe to you because time has come to give God what belongs to God and to the Devil what belongs to the Devil. Pray, dear people, pray God and may God forgive you for accepting such a lord”.
With these strange words, he left at night and the whole village was shaking with fear at midnight when the thunderstorm broke. The bell of the chapel sounded the tocsin. Despite the rainstorm, lightning were setting fire to the castle and the following day, at dawn, the bravest people were looking for their castle unsuccessfully.
At that place, there was a black and glaucous stretch of water, the Etang Noir.
And since that time, it is said, the elderly have heard it, that the sound of the guitar can be heard near the Etang Noir. But if your hear the bell of the castle, woe to you because you won’t see the year out. That’s right, you can believe me, ask the old Yantounin de Saoutebouc…
(extract from “Contes et légendes des Landes” Dr Jean Peyresblanques).
You go around the “place de la Victoire” leaving the war memorial on the left and take Avenue Tuc Dous Brocs on the right ; the word “Tuc” means a small dune, this road is very hilly. “Brocs” means gorse and reminds the local vegetation. You will discover a dune landscape in the heart of the forest. In the old days, undulation of sand destroyed inland.
This road drives you towards the golf course of Seignosse which extends on a hilly area of 70 ha, designed in 1989 by the American architect Robert van Hagge who carried out numerous golf courses in the United States. This 18-hole golf course with its water hazards is considered as a masterpiece by top golfers. Rated best course in France by British golf tour operators and 15th best in Europe by Golf World magazine.
The whole golf area is designed in a traditional architecture style of les Landes and Louisiana style ; a similar style of half-timbered houses as in les Landes has been found in Lousiana.
You arrive then at the roundabout of les Bourdaines. On the right, you will take the road D 79 : this parallel road to the coastline was the old Roman way and was in the 14th century the river Adour mouth. The pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela took it as well.
At the following roundabout, turn to the left Avenue des Lacs and you will arrive at the Tourist Office.
Duration : 1.15 hour walk
Starting point : Tourist Office
Seignosse Océan extends on 5 km seafront where we discover the wild beauty of a virgin land. It is the pine forest of les Landes with its magnificent undergrowth of broad-leaved trees, copses of cork oaks, pleasant clearings and, above all, the imposing ocean with its wide beaches of fine sand and the dune protecting Seignosse Océan from offshore winds.
In order to save the forest and bring closer the housing and the beach, the town planners built between dunes and pines, in a parallel to the coastline : the resort has one side turned towards the ocean and the other side turned towards the forest.
« … because of the relief of the ground but as well for transport reasons, we thought that the seaside had to be quite near the beach so that people could go to the beach walking and even bare foot…”
“ … we took up very simple architecture basis : the first one was to use the traditional materials such as tiles, earthenware and wood for the work on the superstructure. I think that what is characteristic of the architecture from les Landes is much more the frame of mind of a carpenter than the forms and materials”. M. MARTY, a town planner.
The achievement of the seaside resort Seignosse Le Penon has been the result of a close co-operation with the authorities, the county council of les Landes and the local authorities. In 1962 was set up the SATEL (Société d’Aménagement Touristique du département des Landes), a company for the touristic development of the department of les Landes.
The first achievements have been carried out, as early as 1963, by the town planner Jean Marty (rated 1st of the competitive exam of the Institute of town planning in 1957). He was selected by the Minister of Construction and Town Planning at that time to achieve studies on the Aquitaine coastline. The first study had been a holiday centre V.V.T. (Village Vacances Tourisme) called today Belambra Club Les Tuquets.
Then various local or regional developers achieved several programmes. There was one national developer Sté MERLIN who built three units. The seaside resort has been classified “station balnéaire du Penon” in 1973.
The planning of green spaces has been particularly well looked after. “La lette” (first area of vegetation just behind the dune) has been successfully replanted.
To go to the pedestrian shopping area, you cross the two-way road “Avenue Chambrelent”
Jules Chambrelent (1817 – 1893), a civil engineer, achieved large-scale drainage works in Les Landes de Gascogne. He achieved with Henri Crouzet, engineer of the same training, various systems of drainage. The resort is developping on both sides of this road.
You are now place Victor Gentille. You go in the pedestrian shopping area achieved in 1964 before the building of the housing.
Then you go towards the place de Castille with the shops round about (the building where was the cinema, built in 1970, the discotheque in 1967). As you continue towards the shopping bridge, you will have a beautiful view on the dunes and on the sea.
You go through the shopping bridge. On the left, you will see the water and leisure park “Atlantic park” for any age and for the whole family. 2 800 sqm of water surface, water slides, a wide play area, a shady picnic area, sandy beaches. It opened in 1999 for the water area and in the year 2000 for the leisure area (play area, beach volley, bowls…). On that site had been built two seawater pools from 1967 to 1971, the widest in Europe.
On avenue de la Grande Plage, at water park level, you will find Sainte Thérèse church erected in 1973.
It was unveiled in 1974.
It has a sloping roof and the framework is laminated wood. The patio gives a particular character to this edifice. The large cross, 7.60 m high has been unveiled in 1993. The building of the derrick-shaped bell tower dates back to June 1995.
Staying on avenue de la Grande Plage, go towards the roundabout near Belambra Club Les Tuquets and cross again avenue Chambrelent.
You will then enter the housing area in the forest which is the feature of Seignosse Océan.
The buildings are in perfect harmony with the site : wood is an element always present. The forest has been untouched. The founders of the process always wanted to protect the dune and the forest.
Wooded at the beginning of our era the Landes de Gascogne suffered various constraints which caused the damage of the forest.
During the 17th century, reafforestation had started but it stopped after the French Revolution.
Man will then start a noteworthy action to value this area giving the Landes forest a new face. During the 19th century, the forest will change drastically, the areas near the coastline are seeded and drainage works started inland. Important and expensive works were necessary. The law imposed by Emperor Napoleon III in 1857 boosted the forest management.
From 1850 people realized that pines could produce resin and wood without any damage for the forest. Reafforestation will gradually be set up.
The demand for forest produce (wood, resin) was very important. But these lucky years stopped around the Second World War, the maintenance of the forest cannot be provided any longer and fire destroyed the forest (around 1950’s will be set up prevention works against fire : water tanks, firebreaks, tracks, fire lookout towers).
The damaged areas are gradually reafforested and equipped.
The forest of Landes de Gascogne is the largest industrial forest in Europe (sources ONF “Dune et Forêt”).
Then you follow the ondulating avenue des Grahoues (grahoues means gravel) up to avenue des Candelons (candelons means small candle) to arrive to avenue des Chaïs (Chaïs means wine storehouse). You then go across avenue des Lacs to enter in avenue de la Marquèze (Marquèze means landmark) and go to the end of this avenue.
You go to avenue Chambrelent and a bit further on you will take avenue de la Grande Plage on the right hand side.
You are then behind the dune of le Penon beach. The extension of the resort stopped there to prevent a too important linear development and it is to the east that the stretching was set up.
You can admire the dune in front of you and notice that Seignosse deserves its slogan “côté mer côté vert”.
Created by man, the dune is a unique natural heritage.
Since the High Middle Ages till the beginning of the 19th century, the sand of the dunes was blowing inland. In 1801, a Commission for the dunes headed by Nicolas Brémontier was created in order to set up the works for their stabilisation.
The coastline dune will then become a protection (plants and seedlings of marram or lyme grass, fences).
At the beginning of the 1900’s the dune is in good condition and is watched by special workers.
After 1918, there is a decline in the maintenance of the dunes. In 1941, the building of the Atlantic Wall will increase the dune erosion. In the 1950’s the dune is nearly totally destroyed.
The whole sand dune of Aquitaine has to be formed again. The Forestry Commission (ONF = Office National des Forêts) created a special unit. The know-how acquired for over a century allows a long-lasting management of this environment.
It is on that beach, after a violent storm, that the freighter “Le Ruben” run aground in December 1976 ; it has been refloated in August 1977.
To the north of Le Penon beach you will find Les Casernes beach. (A station of customs officers had been created there in 1843 to keep a close eye on wrecks or illicit trafficking).
To the south of Le Penon beach you will find successively Les Bourdaines beach (bourdaines is a shrub whose stems are used for wickerwork) and Les Estagnots beach (Estagnots means small stretch of water).
You will then go back to the Tourist Office through avenue Chambrelent where takes place part of the market during the summer.
Photo credit, banner : Muller Mairie de Seignosse