Reasons to visit French Southern Territories

Shamil Hasanli 29 December 2020 2102 views 5 min. read

Are you ready to visit the French Southern and Antarctic Territories? What are French Southern Territories? Called the TAAF in French, as you can see on the French Southern Territories flag and from the French Southern Territories map, these are small scattered islands on the Indian Ocean which are together administered as the French Southern and Antarctic Territories. If you search for what are French Southern Territories, and what cities are in French Southern Territories, or look at the French Southern Territories map, you will find a part of Antarctica that subjected to this group, but according to the UN, Antarctica does not belong to any country. What cities are in French Southern Territories? There are two big cities, Port-aux-Français and La Roche Gordon, French Southern Territories. In this post, you will read about reasons to visit French Southern Territories, know many other things about French Southern and Antarctic Territories, including the meaning of the French Southern Territories flag. Also, you find answers to your questions, such as what are French Southern Territories, what cities are in French Southern Territories, what to know from the French Southern Territories map, what does the French Southern Territories flag look like, where is La Roche Gordon, French Southern Territories, etc. 

Specific islands

specific islands

Each island has its specificities: In Crozet, you can see most of the animals of the subantarctic: colonies of king penguins, elephant seals on the beach, albatrosses in flight or on their nests. From the sublime "American Bay" to the corridors of a scientific laboratory via the Alfred Faure base, the ways of discovering one end of the island are diverse and varied. In Kerguelen, a change of scale. The Port-aux-Français base is a real small southern village. On this archipelago, the pride of place is given to both desolate and fascinating horizons. From the top of a rocky plateau or at the bottom of an arm of the sea, you can discover the environment slowly, or take long walks and spend nights in a cabin. In Amsterdam, a charming Martin-de-Viviès, or with another name La Roche Gordon, French Southern Territories base is a place of animated buffets with winter visitors but also a meeting place with sea lions. Adding to that a visit to the Benedicte peak air measurement station, a world reference in this field.

Kerguelen Islands

kerguelen islands

At the gates of Antarctica, in the extreme south of the Indian Ocean, the Kerguelen Islands are a little-known piece of French territory, the preserve of researchers and scientists. This oceanic archipelago at the end of the world was discovered by the Breton navigator Yves Joseph de Kerguelen de Trémarec, in 1772. Covering an area of 7 km2, these southern lands offer a view of rugged terrain. Furious winds blow over its coasts, on which raging storms collapse. The landscape is volcanic in origin and lava has fossilized for millions of years, tracing the contours of a mountainous, lunar, and post-apocalyptic landscape. The nearest land is Reunion Island, over 3,250 km away. It is not for nothing that, in 1776, Captain Cook baptized these immense lands invaded by snow and rain “Islands of the desolation”. The rare adventurers who have returned portray a landscape as in the throes of devastation, watered by downpours of rain and snow, partially covered by an ice cap, and battered by winds exceeding 100 km per hour. The quivering poetry from one end of the world with raging elements, whose only inhabitants are the scientists on a mission from the base of Port-aux-Français.

Crozet

crozet

On this island, you will be able to meet the scientists installed on site. They can present their current projects to you, and some are curious and make you want to know more. You will set foot on an exceptional destination that only a handful of men each year are lucky enough to reach. That is quite exciting. Going to such a place, so inaccessible! You will discover a penguin nest. What is a penguin? A cattle truck, do we put cattle in it? Well, a penguin, there are penguins! And they are thousands to have taken up residence in Crozet. It is a breeding ground. When you arrive with the boat, if it is, you will see them moving in the water around the ship already. By setting foot on the beach, you will be able to see them just a few meters from you, and that, I assure you, these are magical moments that you will never tire of at all. In addition to penguins, you will also get to know elephant seals, and a variety of birds, including the famous Albatrosses!

Adventure travel

adventure travel

Embark onboard the Marion Dufresne, during a logistical rotation, to conquer these islands at the "end of the world", here is an atypical travel proposal. Since 1994, the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF) administration opens the possibility for a limited number of visitors to discover the three subantarctic territories (Crozet, Kerguelen, Saint-Paul, and Amsterdam) during the four annual rotations of Marion Dufresne. These territories constitute high places of exceptional biodiversity that France wished to consecrate by extending the protection perimeter at sea this year around the national nature reserve of the French Southern Territories. Onboard, during the crossings, the very strong human dimension, the meeting of people from various horizons are also guarantees of unforgettable moments of life.

Five districts of TAAF

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- The district of the scattered islands: Tromelin, the Glorioso, Juan de Nova, Bassas da India, Europa; 2 - The district of Crozet: 5 volcanic islands, namely "the Pigs", "the Apostles", "the Penguins", "the East Island" and finally, the only island inhabited by man, "the Island of La Possession ”; 3 - The district of Kerguelen: an archipelago of more than 300 islands around the main island, called "Grande Terre", and on which is also the only human expedition in the area, the scientific base of Port-aux-Français. Kerguelen is more than 7,000 km², all the same. 4 - The district of St-Paul and Amsterdam: two remote islands of barely 85 kilometers, each being the top of a volcano that emerged about 100,000 years ago. These are the most recent islands of the TAAF. Only Amsterdam is inhabited by humans. 5 - The district of Terre-Adélie: a triangle of approximately 400,000 km², the apex of which is the South Pole itself. You guessed it, Terre Adélie is located on the Antarctic continent, on the ice cap. And here, too, there is an installed scientific base.

Population

people

Today, the subantarctic districts do not have a permanent population, but according to the bases of 50 to 100 people with scientists and technical personnel who stay there from six months to a year. The Scattered Islands host military garrisons and meteorologists surveyed every 30 to 45 days. The bases are served by sea, with the Marion Dufresne, departing from Réunion to the three southern districts, and with the Astrolabe, from Hobart in Australia to the Antarctic district of Adélie land. The Scattered Islands are supplied by military planes. This isolation implies the establishment by the administration of the TAAF of a complex logistics chain, inseparable from the affirmation of the French presence.

Head of TAAF

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The head office has been located in Saint-Pierre de La Réunion since 2000, where it brings together nearly 65 people. It hosts the prefect's office and cabinet, the general secretariat, and the various services: the technical services department, the administrative and financial affairs department, the environment department, the fisheries, and maritime affairs department, the department legal and international affairs, the medical service and the communication service. The Parisian branch of the TAAF houses the postal and philately service and part of the administrative and medical services. All of these lands provide France with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of more than 2,200,000 km2 rich in marine resources, which contributes to giving France the second maritime influence in the world. The community has a budget from its resources (fishing rights, philately, taxes, tourism, mooring taxes, foundations, etc.) supplemented by a subsidy from the Ministries of the Interior, Overseas Departments, and Ecological Transition and solidarity. Like other overseas territories, it is associated with the European Union, as an OCT ( overseas countries and territories) and as such benefits from a special regime, in particular from funding from the European Development Fund (EDF).

Some travel tips

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Wear loose clothing and walk as soon as you wait in the departure lounge if possible at least 5 minutes per hour. Try to avoid wearing heavy objects on the thighs, crossing your legs, carbonated and alcoholic drinks, and taking sleeping pills. Do not forget to hydrate yourself. In the prevention of barometric otitis, during the descent, swallow frequently to balance the pressures in the middle ear and thus avoid tympanic retractions. Do not travel if you are a pregnant woman, a carrier of heavy diseases. Consider that traveling to this remote, so-called “end of the world” is not as easy as it seems. Be prepared for everything.

Islands
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