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La Turballe (Municipality, Loire-Atlantique, France)

Last modified: 2021-12-21 by ivan sache
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Flag of La Turballe - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 May 2021

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Presentation of La Turballe

The municipality of La Turballe (4,580 inhabitants in 2018; 1,853 ha) is located 20 km north-west of Saint-Nazaire and 10 km north-west of Guérande.

La Turballe was granted municipal status in 1865, but its history dates back to 854.
In 1810, François-Joseph Colin, a canning industrialist from Nantes, started to buy sardines in La Turballe. Around 1830, "tinsmiths" settled for a few weeks between Pen Bron and La Turballe. François Deffes inaugurated around in 1837 the first permanent cannery, established on the port; he was followed in 1841 by the Pellier brothers. In 1870, there were seven canneries in La Turballe. The number of fishing boats increased from 35 in 1823 to 120 in 1877, while population increased from 219 in 1836 to 2,221 in 1876.
Most canning workers were women. Sardines dropped into brine had the head cut off, were then dried on wire meshes and eventually transferred in wooden boxes or tin cans, with oil, pepper and lime. Sardines not used for cannery were offered for sale in a place called Le Butoir; the bell that announced the opening of the sales is still kept in the local fishery museum. Public sales were subsequently suppressed for the sake of hygiene.
Canning industry declined in La Turballe after two disastrous fishing campaigns in 1900 and 1912; no longer competitive, most canneries closed after the Second World War. The last one, Gravier, ended production in 1987.

The end of canning industry did not prevent the development of fishing in La Turballe. In 2012, 8,800 ton of anchovy and 1,200 t of sardine were fished by ships registered in La Turballe, mostly small boats and bigger trawlers fishing by pairs in summer time. Sardine schools thriving in spring in the Bay of Biscay move northwards to Brittany between May and September. The auction market of La Turballe involves 116 fishers and 58 buyers, who send sardines by refrigerator trucks to canneries located in Quiberon and Douarnenez.
The Sardine Festival is celebrated in La Turballe every year in mid-July.
[Ouest France, 4 August 2013]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 22 May 2021

Flag of La Turballe

The flag of La Turballe (photo, photo) is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Azure four sardines argent fesswise a chief argent five ermine spots sable".

Olivier Touzeau, 21 May 2021