Malprat Island, a little-known place

First of all, a little geography, it is in the mouth of the Leyre delta, more precisely in the south-east of the Arcachon Basin that the Island of Malprat takes place. Much less known than its neighbor the Bird Island, because it cannot be visited among others. The Island of Malprat, which means “bad meadows”, will have its real usefulness from 1768.

A typical landscape of the Leyre Delta

It is a horizon of 139 hectares that is offered to you as you walk along this landscape, meadows, with hedges all around, with a salty touch that is done, using the Basin. At the north-western end of the island, there are salt meadows, at the edge of the estate, with a breathtaking view of an endless Bassin d’Arcachon.

It is not a sweet and salty mixture that this island offers us like no other, but a “sweet” then “salty” environment. An ecological mixture in perfect symbiosis, with a soft part, supplied with rainwater and an artesian well, for a salt part, which is also much larger, fed directly by sea water from the Bassin d ‘ Arcachon.

The Island of Malprat takes place in the town of Biganos, very close to the small oyster port, the port of the tiles, which covers 14 hectares, it was through this port that we could access the island, by a footbridge wooden, which is now closed to the public.

Island of Malprat, between salt and fish.

At the end of the 18th century, the Marquis d’Arcembal dug ponds and put in place dikes to create salt marshes, moreover, this salt was not known for its high quality, if not mediocre. Its existence was very short, the exploitation will end in 1793, after the decision of Louis XV to end the exemption from tax on salt. It is later, during the 19th century that an activity will resume within the island of Malprat, Ernest Valeton de Boissière will take over the installations to develop intensive fish farming there, and this, for nearly a hundred years, a much more sustainable business than the salt market. It was from 1950 that the cost of fish as well as the costs of maintenance and labor began to increase gradually, to cease all activity in 1980.

It was in 1997 that the last owner died, following this event, the Conservatoire du Littoral became the new owner, and entrusted the management of the island to the Departmental Council of Gironde and the municipality of Biganos.

In addition to management, a coast guard attached to the town of Biganos, monitors the ecosystem in place on Malprat Island, in order to regularly maintain and rehabilitate it through development work. Its primary objective is to ensure the preservation of this rare and authentic site.