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A little history of Douarnenez harbour... and its sardines

Port-Rhu ria | Raphodon / CC-BY-SA
Harbour Robbery La Fontenelle Douarnenez harbour

La Fontenelle, an island...

The harbour was protected by a small rocky island, Tristan's island, a military harbour in the Middle-Ages and... a crooks’ lair, during wars of religion, with the terrible La Fontenelle!

Douarnenez used to depend of that island, so they called the city Douar Enez, "Island’s land" in Breton...

... and sardines!

Fishes' heads marinade

The harbour’s activity began in the 1st century with salted fishes and garum’s producing.

Garum? A kind of vinegar blend with fermented fishes juice.

Pliny said to make garum, we had to let anchovy's heads and intestines rotting, then added salt and herbs.

A very expensive sauce, for special occasions!

Yes, we can!

Then, the small city became a very important fishing port.

In 1851, the first fish canning factory was created, thanks to the brand new sterilization process founded by Appert: the can invention!

The harbour makes sardines cans since centuries.

But in the 19th century, we had 1 000 sardines boats and about 30 factories, like Connétable, a famous French brand created in 1853!

They called people from Douarnenez who worked in those factories (especially women) penn sardin, "sardines’ heads" in Breton!

But decline came in the beginning of the 20th century: sardines split from Breton waters...

Nowadays, they use foreign sardines but they still preserved them into tins: the small harbour is the capital city in Europe for fishes canning factory!

Between Rosmeur and Port-Rhu

In Rosmeur harbour, trawlers replaced the small schooners.

Rosmeur is the fishing port with its quays surrounding by coloured houses.

Port-Rhu is the trading harbour, with quays raised in the 19th century.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!