The Mascaret of Gironde

Mascaret on Gironde
The mascaret at the town of Vayres
The Bordeaux region is blessed not only with the famous delightful wine but also with a natural curiosity: the mascaret or the river tide.
The word mascaret comes from the ancient Gascon language and it means “spotted bull” (by analogy with a leaping animal).
Mascaret is a natural phenomenon that occurs in rivers – near their mouth – and estuaries at times of high tide and consists of a sudden elevation of the water, due to the strong ocean tide that overpowers the natural flow of the river or estuary.
This spectacular phenomenon – called bore – takes place in France in the Gironde estuary and the flowing-in Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.(Other mascaret spectacular places in the world are Qiantang River ( China), Severn (England) and Amazon ( Brazil ).
The bore manifests itself in the form of 4 or 5, up to 2.5 meters high waves – the highest waves occur at Equinox especially after a dry spell , when the level of river is low -, separated by a 10 meters space and advancing at a speed between 15km/h to 30km/hour depending of the location for up to 200km inland. The bore is succeeded by very turbulent water.
The mascaret is a unique kayaking and river surfing opportunity.
The best places to experience the mascaret in Gironde are:
– Gironde behind Margaux ( 50 cm) island
– Garonne behind the island of Arcins right bank (80 cm ) between Langoiran and Podensac (up to 2.5 m )
– Dordogne : Saint- Pardon ( up to 2.5 m) a few miles downstream from Libourne. Here rides of 1 kilometer are common and occasionally rides of 20 minutes can be experienced!
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