You Shall Have A Fishy On A Little Dishy – Musée de l’Étang de Thau

18 Sep

As we all know, the French love their food and I, for one, have spent the past week sampling their gastronomic delights.  The English have a sentimental attachment to their pets, and while the French cherish their dogs, even taking them out to restaurants, most other animals are regarded as potential meals.  The Musée de l’Étang de Thau, in the charming fishing village of Bouzigues, demonstrates this in no uncertain terms.  An art gallery, museum and aquarium all rolled into one – it certainly is unique.

Musée de l’Étang de Thau, Bouzigues. Own photograph. 

The second largest lake in France, the Étang is a thriving shellfish industry with over 13,000 tonnes of oysters and 3,000 tonnes of mussels farmed annually.  Their current photography exhibition, Femmes d’Étang, focuses on the women of the Étang showing that they can work as well as the men.  The feminist in me rose to the surface and I thought this was great.  Originally, the men were responsible for the manual labour ‘with their arms’ but the women wanted to share in the work believing they were just as capable (if not more so).

Femmes d’Étang at Musée de l’Étang de Thau. Own photograph.

Over the years, women have become more and more involved in the life of the Étang, often adapting established systems to create more efficient and convivial practices.  The photographs successfully capture the hard work that goes on here and the principal involvement of these great women, who seem to thoroughly enjoy it.

Femmes d’Étang at Musée de l’Étang de Thau. Own photograph.

But, the highlight of the museum, which has to be seen to be believed, is the aquarium where fish from the Étang swim around their tanks accompanied by plaques with local recipes and serving suggestions.  I kid you not.  I’d heard about this museum for a number of years but always thought I was having my leg pulled.

Sole and Daurade. Own photograph.

No, you’ve got to hand it to the French – they’re certainly spiced up an otherwise fairly mundane aquarium.  And, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that looking at those oysters in their tanks did make me look forward to my lunch.

Oysters and Mussels. Own photograph.

Femmes d’Étang is at the Musée de l’Étang de Thau until 31st December 2011, http://www.bouzigues.fr/musee/francais/etang-thau.html.

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