Holidays in Brouage, Charente-Maritime: History, Salt and Royal Liaisons
Brouage, a historic jewel linked to white gold, Louis XIV and Quebec, stands today like a port stranded in the middle of the land. This citadel is proudly recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Nestling in the heart of the enchanting Charente-Maritime countryside, the town of Brouage evokes a past steeped in glory and decadence, closely linked to the white gold of salt, then to Louis XIV and Marie de Mancini, and finally to Samuel de Champlain. This ancient fortified citadel, nestled in a picturesque landscape, is well worth a stopover on your trip. It promises a unique holiday experience, combining authenticity, time travel and a change of scenery. In this article, we invite you to immerse yourself in the glorious yet melancholy atmosphere of Brouage, a place full of charm, and discover the treasures it has in store for visitors.
White Gold from Charente-Maritime: The Heritage of Salt
The town of Brouage was founded in 1555 by Lord Jacques de Pons, under the name of "Jacopolis", with the aim of exporting salt from the Saintonge salt marshes. This flourishing port was once a centre for exporting salt to the whole of Europe. In the 17th century, salt was invaluable for food preservation, trade and taxation. Brouage distinguished itself as one of France's leading salt production and export centres. Cardinal de Richelieu made it one of the main bases of the "Flotte du Ponant" (Le Havre, Brest, Brouage), with a population of almost 4,000. During the Wars of Religion, Brouage was the focus of clashes between Catholics and Protestants. The salt marshes, once exploited between the 11th and 16th centuries, were abandoned for more than two centuries before being turned into pastureland in the 19th century. From the ramparts of Brouage, let your gaze wander over these landscapes where land and water merge.
The Sun King and Romance in Brouage
Louis XIV, in his quest to develop trade and strengthen France's naval power, built the Rochefort arsenal in 1666, which began the slow decline of Brouage. However, it was Marie de Mancini who established the close link between Louis XIV and Brouage. A niece of Cardinal Mazarin, Marie de Mancini and the young king Louis XIV fell madly in love. Cardinal Mazarin imposed the raison d'état, dismissing his niece so that the young sovereign could enter into a strategic marriage with Spain. Marie de Mancini settled in Brouage, where their passionate, forbidden love drowned in tears between the walls of the citadel, adding a touch of romance to the history of the town of Brouage. This love story was of paramount importance in the life of Marie de Mancini, and visitors can experience the melancholy beauty of this centuries-old royal romance. Louis XIV himself visited Brouage twice, leaving his mark on the town's history.
Brouage: The link with Quebec
Brouage has an exceptional link with the history of Quebec thanks to the explorer Samuel de Champlain. Born in Brouage in 1574, Champlain became the founder of Quebec City in Canada in 1608. His key role in the exploration and establishment of New France closely linked the town of Brouage to Quebec. Strolling through the narrow streets of Brouage, it's impossible not to reflect on Champlain's exceptional legacy and the importance of this French city in the Canadian epic.
Time travel in the heart of Brouage
The town of Brouage instantly propels you into the past, inviting you to relive the height and splendour of the 17th century, when the citadel was the hub of French and Quebec history and royal passions. As you wander through the cobbled streets and contemplate the perfectly preserved fortifications, you'll become an explorer of time, revealing the well-kept mysteries of this ancient city.
An exceptional architectural heritage
Brouage boasts a precious architectural heritage, bearing witness to its glorious past and its historic links with Louis XIV, Samuel de Champlain, Marie de Mancini and the salt trade. The massive ramparts, bastions and walls form a grandiose spectacle, reminding us of the city's major role as a strategic stronghold. The church and historic monuments add a picturesque touch to this captivating picture. For those with a passion for history and architecture, Brouage is a veritable little paradise. For everyone, it's also a magnificent craft village.
Conclusion: An Unmissable Stopover
The town of Brouage is a must-see destination for travellers thirsting for authenticity, history and natural beauty. Discover its close links with Louis XIV, Samuel de Champlain, Marie de Mancini and salt, and let yourself be carried away on an unforgettable adventure to the heart of French and Canadian history and royal love affairs.