Testimony of Mr. Raymond Delmas, his daughter, Mrs. Rouzaud and other witnesses Portiragnes
His grandfather, who himself, has inherited from his grandfather, has said when she was little:
You see, my daughter, all spaces who are located after the canal bridge from Portiragnes, in time, it were a marshes that stretched out of sight, from the land to the sea.
It was only that lands of pasture for the cattle. There were pigs and four great herds of sheeps, free in this big space.
I must tell you that the pond was not "Maïre" ??(close) as you see today. It was open to the sea, the water was saltier as the big Blue. He was swarmed by the "iragnes" (bright in dialect) , pungent and cruel, which it was infested.
Accordingly the name of the village of Portiragnes carries the tracks today of his past: by "Port", the refuge of boats and by " iragnes " (iragnes in dialect) which he was infested.
My grand father also has said that, in the bad weather, the boats who has coming back from Gibraltar, in charge of goods, putting themselves under cover in these quiet waters, and waited for the end of the storm.
The arrival of the Canal was the big good for Portiragnes. Later, intakes of water allowed to irrigate the salants vast by the bénéficial and sweet waters of the Black Mountain, and over the years, the desalination was made gradually by natural ways.
Towards half of the last century, some began to plant of the vineyard(vine), while on hillsides near of Castling High, ( "Raucaute" in dialect) beyond the cemetery, the olive trees gave a many of fruits.
Unfortunately, the winter of 1853 was fatal for them. The frost has almost totally destroyed them. It is by 1880, that all the land was again transplanted by vineyards(vines).
At the end of the 19eme century, the vineyard(vine) has made live the country, to the detriment of the sheep farm. These evil beasts ate all our vineyards, and we fought to hunt them, in particular those of the Spanish herds, who came to transhumer by to us.
In 1907, there was a revolt of the wine growers, an demonstration important at Narbonne, against wines of Algeria.
All the winemarkers of Portiragnes were there.
The wine making did not gave good wine, also Mister Delmas remembers very well when they began to tear away vineyards. They were partially replaced by rice fields after the last war, especially on " Paludismes " in the locality of "Prat Naou". We used some sea water desalinated to irrigate rice fields.
A day: the drama!
One gate valve was broke and all these lands were flooded by the salt water.
Many vineyards who remained planted, had to be pulled out because being dead by the salt. To protect this earth of the floods of Orb, it was built the dike of Sérignan in the Rivièrette.
It is only towards the 1960 that the wild nature has resumed little by little its rights. Many did not transplant the vineyard(vine), the culture of the rice was stopped, the reeds, the saladelles and the salicoques again settled down.
Today, it is the domain of bulls and horses that graze and cavort freely on these salants vast, together with egrets, mallards, Flemishs pink, and all sorts of water birds.
Here is what has been told by Raymaond and the girl of Mr Delmas, during the Round Table of the éveilleurs of Memoirs in 1997 at Portiragnes.