Gone fishing….. an update with more pictures

Les Cabanes de Pécheur de Faymoreau

 

    “Where is everyone?”is the question most often asked by visitors to France as they pass through villages of empty streets and shuttered windows. I am at home in the peaceful stillness of rural France where it now makes perfect sense to me. This is a world where shopping is not held to be a pastime, but a necessity, whereas fishing is treated as an one of many essential sources of relaxation and peaceful contentment. When the going gets tough, the tough relax and contemplate what may be and what might have been, often with a fishing rod in their hands.

The perimeter of the Digue de Faymoreau is home to a Gallic version of the “garden shed”. Wooden piles are sunk into the bottom of the lake, close to the shore, to support wooden platforms, on top of which each lucky owner will construct a fishing cabin in his own particular style. These styles are variations on a theme but there is a certain neo –Victorian elegance about many of them. Colour is from a muted palette that echoes the natural surroundings, with the occasional chromatic shock from a corrugated iron roof that has been freshly painted in terracotta to simulate the tiled roofs that are traditional in this area of the Vendée. There is even a trend to cement real “tiges de bottes” tiles along the ridge of the roofs to add a touch of authenticity.. The tiles are known as “tiges de botte” (boot tops) because of the shape of the tiles which, on account of the wet clay being formed over the tile maker’s thigh, have a tapered roundness which is redolent of a riding boot.

I have never been drawn to fishing as an activity or as a sport, but the peace and tranquillity of this place seems to bestow upon it a contemplative nature that I find attractive. The simple constructions are in total harmony with their natural surroundings save for the huge and grotesque barbecues which are constructed from pre cast sections of breeze block and, as they are to be seen in every garden in this part of France, I no longer notice. House name plates of the “Dunroamin” school are common, but with French jeux des mots. There is a very clear house numbering system and it doesn’t take long to work out which is the chic area and which are the least desirable positions for one’s cabane.

Fields filled with wild flowers and herbs run down to the water’s edge where horses quietly drink. Walking through the grass produces a cloud of perfume from the bed of mint and camomile that is disturbed by each footfall. The arrival of a new person into this peace galvanises flotillas of ducks that are under the impression that all humans carry quantities of bread with them, the sole purpose of which is to feed ducks. These ducks are fearless of humans which is ironic as the Vendée is the largest producer of duck foie gras in France.

Each cabane is stamped with an individuality reminiscent of the English beach hut and I have been assured that they are as difficult to acquire, but without the insane price tag. In France it is more likely to involve adhering religiously to a multiplicity of “réglementations” whilst filling out enough forms to create a papier maché replica of the cabane in question.

Liberté is a keystone of the French psyche and constitution, yet its meaning relates more to privacy than to liberty itself in everyday life. Thus it is that each of these platforms, set on piles in the lake, has a gangway over the water leading to it. These gangways serve less for access than denial of access to unwanted visitors. All of the gangways will have a padlocked gate at a midway point, over open water. Some have metal gates set in wire cages, whilst others use the ultimate insulation from intrusion – the drawbridge. It quickly becomes clear that these “contemplative” fishermen do not relish unsolicited interruption to their reveries.

The Digue de Faymoreau was created originally to provide hydro electric power for the surrounding area, which it did until 1958. I have noticed that the dam end is definitely the chic address for one’s cabane. Dark green, as in dark green wellies, is the preferred colour here, and platforms here have more than one structure together with a dining area and the famous barbecue. The shoreline pathway behind these smart cabanes is edged with a steep bank going up to a neighbouring field. These uppercrust tenants have terraced this slope in order to plant beds of herbs, create firewood storage and finally to surmount the whole with a smart, dark green sentry box which undoubtedly houses a “loo with a view”.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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42 Responses to Gone fishing….. an update with more pictures

  1. Mad Dog says:

    That looks beautiful – time to buy a fishing rod 😉

  2. Tandy says:

    That would suit me perfectly 🙂

  3. dick polak says:

    What’s the matter with you ? Why that new minuscule type face ? Think of your elderly friends for Christ’s sake !

  4. Tessa says:

    What a beautiful place! So peaceful and serene… Whenever I go fishing, it’s not always about the catching. It’s about the quiet relaxation. That is until, as we say here in Oregon, you have “fish on”!

  5. The fog is appropriate since a dense fog rolled into Chicago last night.

  6. rozmacallan says:

    Read the response about cut and pasting the story but no paragraphs…also so hard to digest. Like your writing but Roger more editing please.

  7. Wow! Total peace. Hope the weather is wonderful for you, Roger.

  8. Andy Szpuk says:

    Rod in hand, chillaxing to the max, Tres bon, right? These images show just how magical a waterside is for photographers ~ terrific images, Roger.

  9. Eha says:

    Darn it . . . you actually went fishing . . . God bless, but my eyes too are in overstress . . .hmmm . . .? [and, besides, now you are going to say to me to delete that ‘delicious’ second photo . . .?

  10. I need a dose of this “piece and quiet”… Absolutely beautiful…

  11. Sigh…I think it would be worth taking up fishing for a moment of complete peace like that. And dinner, of course!

  12. cecilia says:

    Over here (US) you can buy glasses at the Dollar Shop for .. um.. a dollar.. and so, being the clever wee lass that i am, I put on my dollar shop glasses and read with ease! Don.t we all just sigh when we see a beautiful shot of the water.. must be something primal.. c

  13. I might even fish in that environment, Roger. 🙂

  14. Rachel says:

    Aaahhhhhhhhhhh… (eom 😉

  15. Beautiful cabanes, and even more beautiful reflections. A fascinating essay on tranquillity in western France.

  16. I’m completely filled with unquenchable envy.. those cabins, that light.. it’s truly a little piece of heaven. I’m thinking of running away, commandeering one by leaping a fence and creating a little painter’s studio. I may blog from there, but I haven’t quite decided yet. xx

  17. Karen says:

    This has to be one of my favorite of your posts. Not only because of your photos of the picturesque area but your descriptions had me walking along with the fisherman to his little private piece of solitary.

  18. Such beautiful painterly images Roger! And with that I’m ‘gone fishing’ !

  19. Not sure about fishing but what a great place to read, have a bit of cheese, and a good bottle of wine. 🙂

  20. Beautiful photography – amazing colours, and so tranquil. Must be a great place to live.

  21. A perfect getaway; please tell me there is room inside for only one… and lots of room for books, small refrigerator for treats and indoor plumbing.

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