On the French Atlantic Coast: Not All “Old Salts” Are Old!

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My friend and correspondent in France, Robert Bonnell, visits salt harvesting areas on the French Atlantic Coast frequently and reports that artisanal salt harvesting is still very much alive.  He wrote about salt from Guérande and the Île de Ré here, and below he describes harvesting in another nearby area.  It is good to know that a younger generation is learning a craft so vital to our well being. Robert’s report:

“The saunier (salt harvester) in the poster, Yohan-Paul Eveno, mentioned that there were only three active sauniers nowadays in the salt marshes near the town of Les Sables d’Olonne, although there used to be a lot more.  It appears that the profession never completely died out, though, and one of the three is now in his eighties and has been a saunier all his life.  Yohan-Paul learned the tricks of the trade from the old salt, if that’s what we can call him.  He knows that in Guérande the profession is called “paludier”, but insists that everywhere else in France it’s “saunier”.  For the record, Les Sables d’Olonne is down the coast from Guérande, and up the coast from the Ile de Ré, both of which we’ve described before.”

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