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Capbreton

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Capbreton, oh beautiful Capbreton, population a little more than 8,000, is situated on the Atlantic coast in the southern part of Landes department and is the department's only port. Together with its north neighboring town of Hossegor, Capbreton is a popular holiday destination for surfers, sailors, beach-goers and fish and seafood lovers - the town has a famous fish market located (by law!) 2 meters away from the docks!
Situated once on a branch of the Adour River, at the border with the French Basque Country and no further than 40km north of the Basque towns of Biarritz and Bayonne, Capbreton has maintained a strong "Landais" identity throughout its tumultuous history that saw the town's main livelihood, the very Adour River, "stolen" by the competing Bayonne neighbors.
As part of Aquitaine province Capbreton was in the late Middle Ages under the English rule. Starting in 1287, during the reign of Edward I, the town prospers due to privileges bestowed by the king to its port and all the sea related activities - commerce, whale hunt, fishing etc. According to the tradition sailors from Capbreton reached the shores of the American continent as early as 1392 and gave the name of their hometown to the island of Cape Breton - in the nowadays Nova Scotia province of Canada.
At its heyday during the 15th and 16th century Capbreton was a thriving town of 2000 to 3000 inhabitants many of them long distance sailors - whale hunters and cod fishers going up to the Canadian North-East - and merchants selling the local wares, wines, cork and pine resin, to Spain, Portugal, Holland and Flanders.
But then the trouble started….
For many centuries during the Middle Ages Capbreton, with it calm interior waters, was the most important ocean port of the region - it is through here that the Vikings invaded Landes region in 930 - ahead of its neighboring town of Bayonne that had however the most important port on Adour River (at the time both towns were situated on different branches of Adour River). In the 15th century several powerful storms clogged the mouth of Adour near Bayonne isolating the river port from the ocean.
It was King Charles IX who in 1561 decided to bring back the Adour River mouth to Bayonne given the importance of its river port. The works led by Louis de Foix, builder also of the famous Cordouan lighthouse off the estuary of the Garonne, were finished in 1578 and completely cut Capbreton from its river, destroying in the process the town's economical foundation.
In 1619 the inhabitants of the towns formerly crossed by Adour River - including Capbreton - decided to dig a channel on the ancient bed of Adour: this is the nowadays Boudigau channel.
The port of Capbreton started a recovery period after the port's modernizing works were launched by Napoleon III during his visit here in September 1858 (the chair and table where Napoleaon III sat and signed the related documents are exposed at the little Capbreton museum).
Capbreton was and is famous for its fish market. The presence of an ocean underwater chasm - up to 3000 meters deep - in front of Capbreton provides for a unique ecosystem with fish species characteristic to deep sea, different from the species found in neighboring areas. In the 17th century the "economy" minister of Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, gave the fishermen the liberty of selling directly on the quay and of establishing their own prices without the traditional "fish market auction".

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Latitude:43.653160
Longitude:-1.445603
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Added by: Kit Added on: 10 May 2016

Nice pictures!

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Added by: Ambrosio Added on: 24 May 2016

The fish market is quite something. We were watching the boats coming with fresh fish and buying some "rouget barbet" from them.

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