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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Honfleur in Calvados Département, Basse-Normandie, France — Lower Normandy (Atlantic Coast)
 

Le statuaire des Moulières

The Mussel Gatherers Statue

 
 
Le statuaire des Moulières Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., June 30, 2015
1. Le statuaire des Moulières Marker
Inscription. A l’occasion de la réfection totale du secteur de la place de la Porte de Rouen, le Maire de Honfleur, Michel LAMARRE, a souhaité rendre hommage aux moulières, ces femmes qui, pendant des décennies, ont travaillé dur dans l’estuaire et sur le banc du ratier, pour nourrir leurs familles. Elles ont ramassé des moules par kilos, souvent au péril de leur vie.

Ce groupe de moulières évoque à travers trois générations, ce difficile labeur.

Habillées, été comme hiver, de longues robes à plis, en drap, coiff ées d’un fichu qui les prot égeait du vent ou du soleil, ou revêtues d’habits d’hommes, ces femmes, souvent mères de familles nombreuses, cueillaient les moules, courbé en deux, pendant de longues journées harassantes, à l’aide d’une étique – couteau avec un manche en bois rond et une lame en feuille de lierre, affûté d’un seul côté – tous les jours, puis les chargeaient dans des boyaux en toile de jute de dix kilos, cousus à gros points pour les fermer, eux-mêmes enfermés dans des sacs en toile de jute de trente kilos, et les montaient à bord de barques à fond plat. Certaines enveloppaient chacun de leurs doigts dans du chiffon en coton acheté au mètre pour les protéger.

Ce métier ô combien difficile et périlleux a disparu progressivement avec le temps, compte tenu de l’évolution économique et des réglementations.
Le statuaire des Moulières Marker - Wide View image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., June 30, 2015
2. Le statuaire des Moulières Marker - Wide View
C’est dans les années 1977 que les dernières moulières se sont arrêtées.

Honfleur, ville de pêcheurs, se devait de ne pas les oublier. Ce statuaire, œuvre du sculpteur Haut-Normand, Jean-Marc de PAS, est un formidable hommage à cette époque, à ce travail et surtout à ces femmes.

At the bottom of the marker is the English translation:
During the refurbishment of the area of the Square of the Porte de Rouen the mayor of Honfleur, Michel Lamarre, wished to pay homage to the mussel gatherers, those women who, for decades, toiled the estuary and on the mussel-beds of the Ratier, to provide for their families. They gathered mussel, kilo by kilo, often putting their own lives into great danger.

This group of mussel gatherers spans three generations of women involved in that hard labor.

Wearing long pleated skirts of coarse cloth, all year long, with small kerchiefs on their heads to get some protection from the wind or the sunshine, or dressed in mens’ clothes, those women, who often had many children, would gather mussels, day in, day out, stooping during those long exhausting days, handling their mussel picks (long knives with round wooden handles and ivy leaf blades, sharpened on a single side), then would fill ten kilo heavy duty sacks, roughly stitched shut, which would then be put into other thirty kilo heavy duty sacks, to be heaved
Le statuaire des Moulières Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., June 30, 2015
3. Le statuaire des Moulières Marker
up by those same women onto a sort of barge. Some of them would wrap each finger in protective cotton rags from cloth bought by the meter. Such hard and hazardous work has progressively become obsolete with the passing of time, thanks to economic changes and new regulations. It was only in the late seventies, in 1977, that the last mussel gatherers stopped plying their trade. Honfleur, a fishermen’s town, ought to remember. This statue, the work of Jean-Marc de Pas, a sculptor from Upper Normandy, is an astounding homage to that period, to that work and most of all to those women mussel gatherers.
 
Erected 2004 by Ville de Honfleur.
 
Location. 49° 25.129′ N, 0° 14.04′ E. Marker is in Honfleur, Basse-Normandie, in Calvados Département. Marker is at the intersection of Rue Montpensier and Rue des Buttes, in the median on Rue Montpensier. Touch for map. The fountain is in the middle of a very busy traffic circle, near the center of Honfleur. Marker is in this post office area: Honfleur, Basse-Normandie 14600, France.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Albert Sorel (within shouting distance of this marker); Le quartier Saint-Léonard (about 90 meters away, measured in a direct line); Frédéric Sauvage
Le statuaire des Moulières dedication plaque image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., June 30, 2015
4. Le statuaire des Moulières dedication plaque
Sur une idée et à l'initiative de Michel Lamarre, Maire de Honfleur, cette œuvre a été réalisée par Jean-Marc de PAS, sculpteur-paysagiste et inaugurée par le Maire le 19 Juillet 2004.
English translation:
Based on an idea and initiative of Michel Lamarre, Mayor of Honfleur, this work was completed by Jean-Marc de PAS, sculptor and landscape architect, and dedicated by the Mayor on July 19, 2004.
(about 90 meters away); Honfleur War Memorial (about 90 meters away); Mémoire des Soldats Alliés Tombés (about 180 meters away); La Cité des Peintres / La Côte de Grâce (about 210 meters away); Le Faubourg Saint-Catherine / Le Faubourg Saint-Léonard (about 210 meters away); L'Enclos et la Lieutenance / Le Vieux Bassin (about 210 meters away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Honfleur.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
<i>Type des Moulières</i> image. Click for full size.
By L.l., circa 1905
5. Type des Moulières
This historical postcard is very similar in content and form to the postcard depicted on the right of the marker, Type des Moulière. The model in the middle of this trio is most likely the same as on the marker, based on the similarities in physical appearance and dress.

During the first decade of the 20th Century, sending postcards was a very popular activity in France. One popular genre was the "Types" - the depiction of representative persons in various locales. These ranged from fairly straightforward, almost ethnographic depictions, as on the cards here, to sometimes somewhat salacious depictions of the natives in less developed countries.
<i>La Pêche des Moules<i> or Gathering Mussels. image. Click for full size.
By L.l., circa 1905
6. La Pêche des Moules or Gathering Mussels.
This image is the same as on the left of the marker. Very painterly in composition, it could have served as a model of a "before" shot for the statuary.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 25, 2015, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 182 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 25, 2015, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   5, 6. submitted on July 27, 2015. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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