The Artists

Amiens Maison Jules Verne - Somme Tourisme

The colours of the Bay are a source of inspiration for contemporary artists.

Alfred Manessier (1911-1993)
There is no need to introduce Alfred Manessier who, with Jean Baziane and Jean Le Moal among others, was one of the masters of the New School of Paris from 1941.

For the 100th anniversary of his birth, Picardy pays tribute to the great painter of the Baie de Somme.

The novelist Jules Vernes inspired by the Picardy Coast
Jules Vernes has an intimate relationship with the Baie de Somme and the port of Le Crotoy. This relationship can be found in “L’Ile mystérieuse” (1874-75). Indeed, the description of Lincoln Island corresponds to the Picardy coast. Union Bay is a carbon copy of the Baie de Somme. Granite-House, the home of the shipwrecked, corresponds to the location of Le Crotoy.
In his “Géographie illustrée de la France et de ses colonies”, the writer describes the town as “a charming little seaport, situated on an advanced peninsula in the Bay of the Somme, which has preserved some remains of its fortified enclosure, and the ruins of the castle where Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was imprisoned by the English in 1431”.
It was during his sea trips from Le Crotoy that the writer developed his extraordinary novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He wrote it in his villa, on his boat or on the beach. We find all his ardour in his words to his friend Hetzel. “Ah, my dear friend, what a book if I have succeeded! How I found good things at sea while sailing on the Saint-Michel!”

Colette in Crotoy
“Would this gentle country, flat and fair, be less simple than I thought at first? I discovered strange customs: one fishes there by car, one hunts there by boat […] Strange, for those who do not know that the game ventures above the bay and crosses it, from Hourdel to Crotoy, from Crotoy to Saint-Valery; strange, for those who have not climbed into one of these wide-wheeled carts, which take the fishermen all along the twenty-five kilometres of the beach, to meet the sea…
[…] the sun can set quietly beyond the Baie de Somme, a humid and flat desert where the sea, in retreating, has left oblong lakes, round puddles, ruddy canals where the horizontal rays bathe… The dune is mauve, with a rare hair of bluish grass, oases of delicate bindweed, whose umbrella-skirt veined with pink is torn by the wind as soon as it blooms…
The sand thistles, in azure sheet metal, mingle with the ox-stop, which stings with a thorn so short that one is not wary of it. Poor, hard flora, which hardly fades and braves the wind and the salty wave […].
However, here and there, the criste-marine, fat, juicy, acidulous, lively and tender flesh of these snow-pale dunes, greens up […].
The Baie de Somme, still wet, glimmers darkly against an Egyptian sky, raspberry, turquoise and green ash. The sea has gone so far away that it may never come back? Yes, it will come back, treacherous and furtive as I know it here. We never think of her. You read on the sand, you play, you sleep, facing the sky, until a cold tongue, insinuated between your toes, tears a nervous cry from you: the sea is there, all flat, it has covered its twenty kilometres of beach with the silent speed of a serpent. Before you know it, it has wet the book, blackened the white skirt, drowned the croquet set and the tennis court. Five more minutes, and there she is, beating the wall of the terrace, with a soft and rapid flac-flac, with the submissive and contented movement of a dog wagging her tail…
A black bird shoots out of the sunset, an arrow launched by the dying sun. It passes over my head with a crunch of taut silk and changes, against the dark east, into a snow gull… “.
Colette, “En baie de Somme”, “Partie de pêche”, Les Vrilles de la vigne, Romans, récits, souvenirs (1900-1919), Robert Laffont, Collection “Bouquins”, I, pp. 673-674.

Victor Hugo was inspired by his stay in Saint Valéry sur Somme
Victor Hugo was inspired by his stay in July 1836 in Saint Valéry sur Somme to write the lines of Oceano Nox poem, published in 1840 in the collection Les Rayons et les Ombres. This poem was born following a storm on the Picardy coast. In contrast to the Romantics, Victor Hugo opens a reflection on the fate of the shipwrecked.

First stanza:
O how many sailors, how many captains
Who left joyfully for distant races,
In this dreary horizon have vanished!
How many have disappeared, hard and sad fortune!
In a bottomless sea, on a moonless night,
Under the blind ocean forever buried!
Last stanza:
Where are they, the sunken sailors in the black nights?
O waves, that you know gloomy stories!
Deep waves dreaded by kneeling mothers!
You tell them to yourselves as you ride the tides,
And that’s what gives you those desperate voices
That you have in the evening when you come to us!


Première strophe :
Ô combien de marins, combien de capitaines
Qui sont partis joyeux pour des courses lointaines,
Dans ce morne horizon se sont évanouis !
Combien ont disparu, dure et triste fortune !
Dans une mer sans fond, par une nuit sans lune,
Sous l’aveugle océan à jamais enfouis !
Dernière strophe :
Où sont-ils, les marins sombrés dans les nuits noires ?
O flots, que vous savez de lugubres histoires !
Flots profonds redoutés des mères à genoux !
Vous vous les racontez en montant les marées,
Et c’est ce qui vous fait ces voix désespérées
Que vous avez le soir quand vous venez vers nous !