In one of the caves, you will discover what life was like in the 19th century in this region, called Saintonge. You will see furniture, kitchen utensils, a collection of local antique crockery, traditional costumes and headdresses.
The lives of poor people living in these caves were much improved by the arrival of tourists, who came here for the newly popular sport of swimming in the sea. A constant temperature, sunshine, beautiful views of the estuary and the microclimate of the terraces facing due south attracted visitors in large numbers. Restaurants, cafés and bars opened along the cliffs, one of the most popular being the “Grottes de Matata”.
The “Grottes de Matata” are situated on two different levels of the cliffs. An internal staircase leads you to a cave on the lower level called “Lovers’ cave”. You will be impressed by the rustic character of this site. Peek behind the secret door carved out of the rocks…it was here, according to the legend, that Charlotte de La Trémoille, the princess of Condé, hid her illicit relationship with her young page, Permilhac de Belcastel…
You will see, in ten such caves, a reconstruction of life in the caves, from prehistory to the present day.
You will discover in fossil form treasures from the sea-bottom of the Cretaceous period: ammonites, nautilus, sea urchins, corals, oysters…
Prehistoric man hid from wild animals in these caves which provided the necessary elements for life: spring water and plenty of fish to eat in the rich waters of the estuary.
In the aquariums, you will be able to see certain species; among these, the fish famous for caviar, Sturgeon… Little by little, we go through time with you.
In the Middle Ages, all along the cliffs of Meschers lived a colony of pirates and shipwreckers. It was a strategically ideal position because they could see the enemy arrive from a great distance.
These outlaws ambushed all the ships navigating the estuary towards Bordeaux. It must be said that at this time, lawlessness was rife; the king of France did not govern south of the Loire river and the English occupied the Aquitaine region. It was not until the reign of Henry IV that this practice was finally eliminated with the help of decoys: commercial ships packed with soldiers and hidden canons.