road in France fades underwater

Passage du Gois is a road that connects the Gulf of Burnёf with the island of Noirmoutier in France. Due to the rising tide, you can only drive along it twice a day for a few hours before it gets flooded. The rest of the time it’s hidden 13 ft beneath the waves.

In 1701, the original passage connecting the mainland to the island of Noirmoutier was first indicated on a map. Around 1840, a regular service began to be provided by car or on horseback. Today, the road is around 2.58 miles long.

The seemingly ordinary way is in fact extremely dangerous. On both sides of the road, there are individual panels, which will tell you if the path is passable or not. And yet every year many adventurous travellers get trapped in the rapidly rising waters as the tide comes in. For those caught between the tides, tall rescue towers are located all along the Passage du Gois. A person can climb these towers and wait until they are rescued or until the tide goes down again. You will have to say goodbye to your car, though!

The rough stone paved causeway was first used during the XVI century as the Baie de Bourgneuf gradually silted up. Today the Causeway attracts thousands of visitors a year to watch the twice daily uncovering of the 4.3 kilometres of the road as it miraculously appears from the sea during the ebbing tide.

Trucks and buses can drive only in one direction, from the mainland to the island. At high tide, this road lies under 1.30 meters to 4 meters of water. Covered by the sea twice a day, this paved road is littered with seaweed in places and can be particularly slippery. And a thick fog can rise quickly in this part of the Vendée zone. The road gets flooded twice daily. So you better be dead-on accurate when you look up tide times. As if that isn’t bad enough, you have to dodge wet seaweed after the floods subside.

When this paved sandbar that’s flooded twice a day at high tide isn’t submerged, this narrow causeway—flanked by fishing boats and littered with errant clumps of seaweed—is a slippery stretch indeed and especially treacherous on two wheels. This road has been used several times on Tour de France.

This causeway is so unique that you cannot encounter it anywhere else in the world.  The 4,150 meters long road is only accessible with the low tide and then only 1 ½ hour before the lowest tide and 1 ½ hour afterwards. The Passage du Gois is an extraordinary location in France and a national monument.


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