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Audenge (Municipality, Gironde, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-08 by ivan sache
Keywords: gironde | audenge |
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[Flag of Audenge]

Flag of Audenge - Image by Ivan Sache, 17 October 2011

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Presentation of Audenge

The municipality of Audenge (5,736 inhabitants in 2007; 8,209 ha) is located on the Arcachon Bay, 30 km north-east of Arcachon.

Audenge already existed as a permanent settlement 2,000 years ago. Excavations made in 2008-2009 (INRAP website) unveiled the remains of a village seemingly one of the most important place of production of pitch in the Arcachon Bay. Pitch, used to caulk amphora and boats, was produced from pines cut in the neighboring forest of the Landes of Gascony. The local production was probably stored for export in the neighboring port of Lamothe-Biganos. The municipal forest of Audenge still covers 1,846 ha, 1,556 of them being exploited for timber wood.
The traditional oyster-catching port of Audenge, located 1 km from the center of the village, is now surrounded by two small marinas (120 and 150 moorings, respectively) and a swimming tank.

Audenge was once famous for leech breeding. In 1863, the geographer Élisée Reclus reported in La revue des deux mondes that a breeder from Audenge fed 800,000 leeches per year "with 200 cows and a few dozens of ass's foals". Close to bankrupt, the last French leech breeding company, Ricarimpex, based in Audenge, was purchased in 1993 by Jacques Latrille, Professor at the University of Bordeaux, who transferred the company to his daughter Brigitte Latrille (b. 1958), a former Olympic fencer. Ricarimpex sells now some 150,000 leeches per year, mostly used in plastic and reconstructive surgery (Sud Ouest, 14 July 2010).

The Certes domain, whose territory also stretches over the neighboring municipality of Lanton, is a typical example of the early attempts of industrialization of the Arcachon Bay. Originally made of sterile "salt pastures", the domain was transformed in salt marshes in the late 18th century by the Marquis de Civrac, "captal" (lord) of Certes. The protection of the marshes from the Bay's waters required the building of a huge dyke; it is believed that some two millions tons of earth were used. Originally producing 1,000 tons of tax-free salt per year, the Certes salt marshes were originally very profitable until the powerful salt producers from Charente obtained the taxation of the Certes salt, causing the bankrupt of Civrac in 1773.
The domain was abandoned by its successive owners until 1843, when the Fourierist engineer Ernest Valeton de Boissière (1811-1894, biography) transformed it into a fish farms. Remembered as the benefactor of the villages of Audenge and Lanton, Boissière imagined a complex system to transfer fresh and salty water between the different fish ponds. Fish farming is no longer significant in the domain, which was purchased by the Conservatoire du Littoral et des Rivages Lacustre and transformed into a 400-ha nature reserve managed by the General Council of Gironde.

Ivan Sache, 17 October 2011

Flag of Audenge

The flag of Audenge is white with the municipal logo in the middle.
The logo of Audenge is made of an emblem seemingly showing the location of Audenge (orange rectangle) on the Arcachon Bay (the light blue area might represent the Bay at high tide and the dark blue at low tide). The name of the municipality is written in green letters below the logo.

Ivan Sache, 17 October 2011