Touraine - from then until now!

This blog is an attempt to show some of the vast history of Man's prescence in the Southern Touraine.... from first footfall to the present....
especially in and around le Grand Pressigny area.... with special emphasis on life at and around le Moulin de la Forge.
There will also be occasional entries about time before man was here and when the area was at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Vide-etang at Le Louroux

To Le Louroux yesterday morning (via a deviation that took us twice as far as the normal route). Traffic was re-routed one way through the village to allow parking on one side of the road between Le Louroux and Manthelan. Traffic control was in the hands of a series of young ladies in yellow high-visibility jackets. The lake is emptied every two years to maintain the quality of the environment and to regulate fish stocks. There were huge queues for the fish and a TV outside broadcast team interviewed the enthusiastic buyers about their favourite recipes.

We were entertained by a troupe of wandering minstrels....
Do you know this one?
No! You play it and I'll improvise...

Meanwhile a hardy team of pisciculteurs from the Brenne in waders and waterproofs worked from the exposed lakebed and a small flat-topped aluminium barge with an outboard motor.

The net was laid carefully on the top of the barge, concertina folded so that it could be paid out again behind the boat to enclose the next catch.

Two or three men worked on the shore while the boat worked in a curve laying out the net. It stopped a few metres from the shore and one man waded out to pull the net in and close the loop. 

Starting to pay the net out.

 Having been carefully laid out on the barge.... The net is now carefully fed back off.
Begining to turn back to shore
Return run

The full circle
Ends are secured....
....and the net is slowly and carefully drawn in.
The net is almost small enough for the fishermen....

They peg the sides of the net higher than the waterline so that none shall escape!

But one tries.... but is heading the wrong way!

When only a small patch of water was left inside the net, the men pegged the net in place with metal stakes and started scooping out the fish with hand-nets into boxes.

Handling a large pike [left of picture] and filling a box [right of frame]

Excess net is already being paid back out, ready to be loaded. Meanwhile, yet more fish is loaded into boxes.

Struggling with a heavy net full of fish is tricky work... and it is inevitable that some escape...
but only back into the circle!

Meanwhile, a young man came to the fish traps behind the dam with a triangular net to fill his bait box with tiddlers.

Apart from the outboard motor and the metal barge, this scene has been played out for at least nine centuries. The lake is probably in a natural basin in mostly flat countryside, but it is by no means natural. The monks of the Benedictine Prieuré of Le Louroux re-routed and straightened streams, deepened the lake and built dams, so they could have fish on a Friday. Some of the fish sellers dressed in rusty brown robes to celebrate the historical links. I'm sure Brother Cadfael never wore trainers though, or went to collect bait on a motor bike.

There is more on the vide-etang at Le Louroux by Susan and Simon at Days on the Claise and there is more about the exhibition of fabulous macro photographs of insects by David Greyo on his Blog

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