Carnac, From the Land to the Sea

By Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Alignements du Ménec à Carnac Alignements du Ménec à CarnacLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Carnac is known worldwide for its megalithic sites dating from the Neolithic period that captured the imagination of observers from the word go.

Les Alignements du Ménec Les Alignements du MénecLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The first visitors eagerly strolled among the menhirs (or even rode in horse-drawn carriages) pondering these strange "big stones."

Géant du Menec Géant du MenecLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Ideas about the origins of these stones abound: "Druid," places of ritual sacrifices, or Roman soldiers petrified on the orders of Saint Cornely, for example.

La mère des Korrigans La mère des KorrigansLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Postcards also often made references to Breton legends, such as the mother of the Korrigans, a sort of Breton fairy. However, this has a different meaning in Carnac.

Les Korigans du Ménec Les Korigans du MénecLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The little "Korrigans" photographed here are children from Carnac reciting the legends of the menhirs to the first tourists for loose change.

La Grande Rue et la façade de l'Eglise St-Cornély La Grande Rue et la façade de l'Eglise St-Cornély (1924-08-03)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Like Many Others, a Mostly Rural Commune

Vue Générale Vue GénéraleLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The typical geography of Brittany consists of towns or villages with a few dozen terraced houses on one or two streets. These small communities offer basic services (school, town hall, church, and stores). These are surrounded by numerous hamlets of three or four homes usually belonging to a farm.

Vue générale prise des Tumulus du Mont Saint-Michel Vue générale prise des Tumulus du Mont Saint-MichelLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Around 1910, there were around 3,269 inhabitants living in the town of Carnac itself, most of whom worked the land or the many small farms scattered around the town.
An example of this can be seen in the foreground of this card.

Un marin de chez nous, qui connaît la plage aussi bien la nuit que le jour Un marin de chez nous, qui connaît la plage aussi bien la nuit que le jourLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Carnac also had a large seafront that allowed some of its inhabitants to access its resources. This included fishing, of course, as well as harvesting shells or seaweed.

Salines du Bréno Salines du BrénoLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Salt

Marais salants Marais salantsLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Salt farming shaped a large portion of the coast and provided the background to this series of postcards that tell the story of its harvest.

Marais salants du Brêno Marais salants du BrênoLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Collecting Salt
From basin to basin, the salt content of the seawater increased until it appeared in "oeillets" (clay ponds) from which the salt worker was able to gather the crystallized salt with the help of his "lousse" (a long pole with a flat board used to skim) for the fleur de sel and the "simoussi" (a long pole with a flat board used to rake) for the coarse salt. It was left there to drain for some time to lose its moisture.

LES MARAIS SALANTS LES MARAIS SALANTSLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Building Salt Piles
At the height of the harvest, the salt was placed in a mound known as a "mulon". This small, millstone-shaped pile was taken by wheelbarrow or by bins carried on the backs of men, women, and children to an area near the basins.

Salines du Bréno Salines du BrénoLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Packing
Bags of 110 to 154 lbs (50 to 70 kg) of the coarse salt obtained per "oeillet" were then transported to the salt storeroom, as seen in the background of this postcard. As a precious material, the salt was monitored by a customs officer who was never far away.

La vendange La vendangeLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

North of the Loire vineyards produced a small sour wine of debatable taste quality — and an unexpected activity for that area.

La Grand'Rue et l'Eglise La Grand'Rue et l'Eglise (1911-05-22)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Church-Based Solidarity for Local Inhabitants

Fête de St Cornély, protecteur des bêtes à cornes Fête de St Cornély, protecteur des bêtes à cornesLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Semi-pagan rites were maintained in Carnac, such as the blessing of cows and horses during the pardon of St. Cornely.

13 Sept. Pèlerins autour de la Fontaine de St-Cornély 13 Sept. Pèlerins autour de la Fontaine de St-Cornély by Le Rouzic Z.Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

In accordance with a long-standing tradition, pilgrims followed the procession that ended with the blessing of the animals in honor of spring.

Le train à la station Le train à la stationLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Everything Changed with the Arrival of the Train

Le Rapide arrivant à la Gare de Carnac-Plage Le Rapide arrivant à la Gare de Carnac-PlageLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Although the Auray-Quiberon line was created in 1882, it was the development of a tram line between Etel and La Trinité-sur-mer in 1901 that unveiled Carnac's potential as a seaside resort.
Travelers could also reach Carnac-Plage quickly with the regional fast line.

La plage et la pointe La plage et la pointe (1913-08-04)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

This triggered the development of seaside tourism and the urbanization of the coast, with many villas that would eventually define Carnac-Plage.

Dans le fond, Carnac-Ville et le Tumulus de Saint-Michel avec un Coin de Carnac-Plage, donnant les Villas Fleurs-d'Ajonc, Emilia et Jehanne-d'Arc, ainsi que l'Agence de Carnac-Plage Dans le fond, Carnac-Ville et le Tumulus de Saint-Michel avec un Coin de Carnac-Plage, donnant les Villas Fleurs-d'Ajonc, Emilia et Jehanne-d'Arc, ainsi que l'Agence de Carnac-PlageLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

It was these gentlemen, Georges Pajot and Désiré Jamet, who would create Carnac-Plage Ltd. with the intention of "buying all Carnac's beach land for use and development of this territory," which had been empty until that point.

Le BUREAU DE L'AGENCE, où tous les renseignements sont fournis pour la location des villas et la vente des terrains Le BUREAU DE L'AGENCE, où tous les renseignements sont fournis pour la location des villas et la vente des terrainsLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

It was an area of 91 hectares with a few isolated villas and a dozen pine trees along the dunes and the sea. The agency office was located there and this was "where all the information was provided for villa rentals and land sales."

La Plage La Plage (1906-08-24)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Drained beforehand because of its swampy nature, the area became buildable land and saw great architectural diversity in accordance with the plans of Carnac-Plage Ltd.

Les Villas, les Peupliers, les Genêts, les Pourpiers, les Troënes Les Villas, les Peupliers, les Genêts, les Pourpiers, les TroënesLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The villas, fitted with a gable overhang, belonged either to the neo-Norman style or were inspired by the Breton style.

Carnac-Plage. Le Grand Hôtel Carnac-Plage. Le Grand Hôtel (1919-05-10)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The tourist facilities were not to be outdone, for example, with the construction of the Grand Hotel in 1902. This advertising card illustrates bathing activities on the beach: bathing cabins, racket games, and the virtues of sunshine.

Carnac-Plage. Grand Hôtel Carnac-Plage. Grand Hôtel (1914-09-28)Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The photographic postcard of the same places revealed lushly vegetated surroundings for the healthiest ambience possible. It even borrowed Mediterranean-climate elements.

Credits: Story

Thanks to:
The town of Baud
Le Carton Voyageur - Postcard Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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