Thursday, 6 February 2020

Sardines, Breton ones that is make for good TV in Brittany too!

Seems our Breton cousins are also celebrating the humble sardine on their TV screens with a programme dedicated to the history and sardine fishermen of Douarnenez:

Sardines, this small migratory fish are caught from May to October. From the Vendée coast to Ouessant, the fishermen will hunt down the shoals of sardines with their bolinches and then quickly bring them back to shore.

Douarnenez, world capital of sardine can The town of Douarnenez in Finistère alone symbolizes fishing and the sardine trade. For a long time, it was the top sardine port in France. With the invention of the can by Nicolas Appert, the fate of Douarnenez will change. Robert Chancerelle was the first to open his cannery in 1854, a cannery still in operation today.

In 1900, Douarnenez had 32 canneries. 4,000 people worked in these factories.
800 boats with 3500 sailors on board set out on a sardine fishing campaign. Douarnenez thus becomes the number one French coastal fishing port.

Telenn-Mor is a replica of a sardine boat from the 30s of Douarnenez, This traditional sailboat is today dedicated to maintaining the memory of this glorious fishing period.

Coastal sea sardines in a canning

Old-fashioned navigation aboard the Telenn Mor, the replica of a sardine boat by Douarnenez. On board, Nicolas Corre, the captain, tells us about the sardine fishing of that time. - Littoral

But in 1902, the sardine crisis broke out in Douarnenez. Overnight, sardines are scarce and fishermen return empty holds. One after the other, the canneries closed, plunging part of the population into misery. In 1958, there were only 14 factories with only a hundred employees a year.

The struggles of the "Penn Sardin"

In the canning factories of Douarnenez, most of the workers are women. They're called the Penn Sardinians. These women, renowned for their strength at work, fought in 1905 to obtain the right to be paid by the hour. In 1924, with "the great strike" they demanded a salary increase. All the factories in the port of Douarnenez will join the movement. On January 8, 1906, after 46 days of strike, agreements were signed. The Penn Sardin strike becomes a symbol in the history of union struggles.

Today Douarnenez has only three industrial canneries and one artisanal canning factory. The Chancerelle industrial cannery has been awarded the "Living Heritage Company" label in July 2019. This label recognizes the oldest sardine cannery in the world still in operation for its traditional know-how in processing sardines "by hand".

Littoral, the sardine from the deck to the can.

In Douarnenez the Chancerelle cannery was born in 1854. Françoise has worked there for over 40 years. - Littoral

The port of Saint Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in Vendée is also famous for its sardine.
In summer, when the sardine fishery is in full swing, the "Bozo" unloads the famous "fresh sardine from Croix de Vie" daily. A few years ago, the "Bozo" could not sell all of its fish in auction. Gaëtan, the boss, decided to test the direct sale on the quay. Word of mouth did the rest ...

A Saint Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in Vendée the Bozo is at the quay… And there are crowds to buy the sardine "at the bottom of the boat".

In 2018, sardine fishing in Saint Gilles-Croix-de-Vie , in Vendée, was listed in the inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of France. The little blue fish has not finished talking about him.