French fishing girls…


In a French coastal town in Brittany, where I was recently, researching something completely unrelated to fishing or fishing girls, I often found myself thinking of Elemental’s  Meggie Tulloch and the herring girls of north-east Scotland.

I hadn’t known much about the rich fishing heritage of Concarneau, but when I went on a walking tour around the harbour and listened to the guide speak about the prominent role played by women and young girls in the fishing industry I began to experience a sense of déjà vu. In Concarneau, the focus was sardines rather than herring, and the girls worked in confiseries (canning factories) dotted around the port.



They wore aprons and Breton bonnets that were different to those worn by other women of the town, and when they were not preparing and packing sardines in oil, they were knitting, or cleaning fishing nets, while waiting for the return of the fleet. And praying that their men would not be lost at sea, pulled to the ocean floor by the weight of their wooden-soled leather seaboots.


Sounding familiar?

And then I discovered that the name of the oldest canning factory in Concarneau, established in 1893, is Maison Courtin. A French version of Curtin? I don’t know, but I’d like to think so.




Filed under Elemental

12 responses to “French fishing girls…

  1. Pat Nelson

    Interesting!!!! Maybe in another life!!!!!

  2. marlish glorie

    What a co-incidence, but maybe not so astonishing given how big the fishing industry was back then. The sea-boots are something else. Imagine wearing those? 🙂

  3. I do love this. I believe in resonances which are more than coincidences. How lovely. I hope you have many more fulfilling moments.

  4. Wonderful stuff, Amanda. As Barbara Trapido once said, real life is full of the kinds of coincidences you could never get away with in fiction.

    PS Do be sure to visit Mont St Michel while you are in the neighbourhood.

    • So true, Angela. And while I’m not a fan of coincidences in fiction, I love them in life!
      We will have to leave Mont St Michel for another time—another place for that ever-growing list…

  5. As a Bretonphile, recently in St. Malo where I took the ‘Marie-Laure’ walk, I really enjoyed this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s