There remained perhaps a photographer in the Moors who had not harnessed with immortaliser the Aquitanian coast. This project itched me indeed for a certain time and a preliminary question was essential on me: was necessary it to cover the subject in tourist high season or except season. Decisive condition because it was going to guide my approach with regard to this so different money coast according to the seasons. I finally chose the hollow period because the tourist surge remained altogether reduced over the duration.
I thus found myself only in the middle of a desert of sand and buildings dislodged, côtoyant the wind, the cold light of the winter and the noise resounding of the ocean occupied to unroll his swell in front of a public absent. The Aquitanian littoral is single in its kind: kilometers and kilometers of beaches bordered of more or less imposing dunes with a visibility reduced in length. And this omnipresent noise of the powerful vagueness which recalls you constantly with the order and this sometimes violent wind which slows down you in your work. These grains of sand which are involved in the fragile mechanisms of the cameras and which can stop the inspiration without preventing. This rare environment is bread blessed for those which want to see and translate the landscape that this littoral offers. I hope that my images will be able to often show to the feelings melancholic persons who attacked me at the time of these long walks. How not to feel in front of these lunar and disproportionate horizons a certain vagueness with the heart and a feeling of major humility.
During these long excursions an impression of wear - with the image of dune erosion - attacked me and released me more. As if the ocean corroded all on its passage. As if the salt water combined with sand had two missions to fill: to set up beaches for the estivants and to nibble the littoral to nourish itself. The contemplative one, him - or rather me, nevertheless tried to despize these meanly geological considerations and concentrated on the specific atmosphere of the seaside.

Jean Hincker, 2009

The littoral, is more than one space of life and leisure.
It is an inheritance to be protected and divide.
by Guillemette Rolland*

Side sea

Under Colbert, the maritime field is issued inalienable and imprescriptible. Royal field, then of the State, one can arrange it only under condition of the temporary character of the infrastructures.
The military zones are the subject of large building sites under Vauban or by the German strategists at the time of the second world war. The emblématiques constructions of the last conflicts are today historic buildings, when others fail on the beaches, because of the retreat of the feature of coasts.
The port areas are defined on the sectors of maritime transport and road: estuaries and bays sheltered near large cities. They brought to the drain of rivers and the empoldering of immense marshes bordering them. The artisanal fishing ports divide today the natural or artificial shelters with the marinas and the zones of marine culture.
Apart from these economic or strategic zones, the maritime Field is public with the direction most strict of the term.

Side ground

The law Littoral of 1986, reinforces this public character by making obligation to give free access to the littoral, the beach, the port, the sea. In addition to the provisions tending to limit the urbanization on a fringe finally not very broad, the Law gives to this vast sector the official statute of common inheritance of the nation.

The Academy of the littoral, created in 1975 takes part in this patrimonialisation. By the public land control, the object is to protect from the exceptional sites (landscape, biodiversity, architecture), but also to make them public. Each one can benefit from it with the proviso of respecting it. To manage by public agencies or associations with local competences, these sites became recipient of the local life, even of its economic development.

The tourist activity, teaching and the reception of farmers open important prospects for the communities, which are often voluntary for certain great projects of valorization of these sites.
In Aquitaine, State and communities took the initiative as of the end of the year 1970 with the MIACA, which made it possible to define the suitable zones, the Beach Plan always in force. Vast forests domanial, on the coast landaise, are in particular managed by the ONF and the three departments defined significant zones natural spaces in connection with the Academy of the littoral to supplement this protection.

A consumed space

The passion for the littoral is business of mode and season. Before the creation of balneal tourism (about 1870), the historian Alain Corbin defined it as “the territory of the vacuum”.
The residents of the sea, finally very few, were population the poor, at the same time fishing and farmers, sometimes smugglers. Who remembers that this coast between Adour (before its drain) and Bidassoa was a place of whaling? A site of observation and an adapted boat sufficed for this fishing which made live Bayonne, Biarritz, Hendaye. The other products of the sea were not whereas accessible food substitutes freely, in the Basin of Arcachon in particular. Then, the seafood and the fish of the coasts became integral part of the stay tourist. Unfortunately, the resource decreases or, worse, one must be wary of his consumption because of periodic medical problems.

A crossing point

As the many migratory birds which skirt this coast twice a year, the man makes stage on this long littoral fringe. This multitude is finally seldom present at the same moment, extremely fortunately. With each one its tide, its strong gale or its sunstroke, its dawn or its twilight: migratory bird, hunter, fisherman of bar or shrimp, pick-up of alga, surfer, bather, walker, ornithologist, poet, photographer, plagist, guard of the littoral, etc Seul the public character of a reserved space to the pedestrian allows this diversity, not to say this freedom. That to be in the moving crowd of the great beautiful days or in the desert of the days of been windy winter.

An idea of the future of the coasts of Aquitaine

All in all, the beaches of the Atlantic record a deficit of sand and the evolution of the climate makes phenomena hitherto rare increasingly frequent: very strong precipitations and storms in any season. Locally the sand loss is felt on sectors which the human activities tried to fix. Ambitious attempts (dam, riprap) like most modest (plantation of sea reeds and other plants). The blockhouses have the feet in water, exposed of their base. The ganivelles ones or the plantations take sometimes airs of carelessness. The ripraps in foot of dune or the ears perpendicular, seem so fragile at the time of the storms with strong coefficient of tide. It will be necessary a day well to take to return to you with the obviousness of the mobility of feature of coast.

The littoral, between ground and sea, is also the junction between fresh water and salt water. The fresh water of the mountain, the river, of the lakes, is a multimode transport system towards the sea. The mixture is however not total and terrestrial water (often stagnate in any edge of coast. They is thus as there, as pollution is fixed, where the biodiversity is richest and where the economic activities are most fragile. Aquitaine has progress still to make in this field in spite of the recent efforts.

Coastal waste was the subject of vast campaigns supported by the Area and the three Département departments, and which in particular brought the fishermen to activities of collecting of floating waste. Since the oil slicks devastators, communes have sifters for their tourist beaches. But one must often make the relearning of the concept of clean and dirty to avoid with the biodiversity of the leashes of sea in particular disappearing.

Coveted space

The littoral was very quickly reinvested after the disappearance of “the closed area” enacted under the German occupation. The economic dash of the thirty glorious ones and the development of the culture of the leisures caused a terrestrial beachcomber which should have been thwarted, without to prohibit too much. The stake is well to make so that this territory becomes with a space of life and division, in spite of apparent or real antagonisms of the various interests. The dialog is thus the key word of the success of the protection of this space. One develops of place in place of the projects of Management integrated of the coastal area which try to take account of all the stakes highlighted. The new governorship is implemented on the most coveted sectors.

* Guillemette Roland is Déléguée of Aquitaine Shore
for the Academy of the Littoral.

Jean Hincker, 2009