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Barrel On The Dordogne Courtesy Fabrice Colas And Phillipe Garrigues The Port of St Pardon, courtesy Tom Wright
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Courtesy Fabrice Colas

Additional maps can be seen on Bruno's website.
Port St Pardon

The most popular destination for surfers in search of a ride on the mascaret is the small rural port of St Pardon, a small extension running north of Vayres. In fact, the Port is also popular with spectators, and several hundred gather to watch the largest coefficients of the tide. The river runs straight for a couple of kilometres in both directions from the harbour front.

Chez Ani, 'Cafe Du Port', St Pardon, courtesy Tom Wright

The Cafe du Port, or locally Chez Ani, is a small restaurant that dominates the harbour front. This makes an ideal location for the surfers to gather for drinks after the evening mascaret. The food is excellent and set meals ranging from 80 to 140 francs can be purchased at lunch time and in the evenings.

The river is around four hundred metres in width, with numerous take off spots for catching the wave. Almost unique to St Pardon, especially in quantity, are the number of following waves that can also be surfed for long distances. These waves can give a refreshing break from the congestion that builds up on the head wave around peak season. The skill of surfing the mascaret includes the ability to read the correct time to drop back onto a trailing wave, and it is using this method that the longest distances have been surfed.

The wave can reach around three to four feet in height when the conditions are at an optimum. However, the long duration (four hours) of the incoming tide, does not allow fresh water to drain out quickly, so high fresh levels can cause a problem. Kyakers regularly clock up around eighteen minutes on the wave, and the current record for surfing is around 4km from the top bend, acheived by local surfer Pascal, in Autumn 2000.
Nantes bore rider, Pierre, points the way down stream to the take-off at St Pardon, courtesy Tom Wright
Nantes bore rider, Pierre, points out the take off.