April 29, 2009

Danièle Arnaud-Aubin, La dame aux coquillages / The lady with the shells

all pictures courtesy of  Michel Craipeau 
(Flickr  December 2008).

Facing the Atlantic Ocean, les Sables d´Olonne is a community in the west of France. It has all the nice attractions of a French coastal holiday resort: sun, sea, beaches, promenades, restaurants... but it has one attraction that is very special.

An old quarter of the town, named l´île penotte (the penotte island) is dotted with wall decorations executed as mosaics.

Life and works

When Daniele Arnaud, also known as Dan, who was born in les Sables d´Olonne, settled in that neighbourhood, she got the idea to decorate the entrance of her house with a mosaic composed of shells.

From 1997 on this creative activity gradually was extended to other houses and streets in the neighbourhood and currently the entire neighborhood of l´îsle penotte has been decorated with Danielle's colorful shell frescoes.

The local authorities were sympathetic to this creative variety of urban renewal and they agreed that many of the street name signs and other public utilities were adorned too.

A good decision, since this quarter of the town has become a touristic attraction.

In 2013 the mayor of Les Sables d'Olonne awarded Danièle with the medal of the city, praising her for her artistic contribution to the town.

Some documentation
* Dan Aubin's personal website, with many pictures and an analytic description of the different kinds of creations she makes. This website has no biographical data, and neither could I find them elsewhere.
* A photostream by Michel Craipeau on Flickr
* A series of pictures (January 2011) of the decorations on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, here and here
* Article (September 2017) in regional journal Le reporter Sablais about a meeting to celebrate that twenty years earlier the application of shell decorations had started.

* On Daily Motion a video showing the decorations

* Video (March 2019) by France-3 TV (5'29", YouTube)

P.S. Gaston Chaissac in the museum of les Sables d'Olonne

If you happen to be in Les Sables d'Olonne, you might visit the Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix to see their collection of the well-known French self-taught painter Gaston Chaissac, a donation to the museum by his widow.

first published April 2009, last revised May 2021

Dan Arnaud-Aubin
La dame aux coquillages
Quartier l´îsle penotte
Les Sables d´Olonne, dept Vendée, region Pays de la Loire, France


  1. Hey Henk, you are really on a roll of great outsider sites now ! Keep them coming. I haven't been to the Sables d'Olonne, but may have to go take a look at this... adding to the list of places you have highlighted. Best, Owen

  2. Hey Owen, Sure, there are some more environments on the roll. I wish I could publish more pictures of Dan´s creations, because they are full of wonder, color and beauty, but I promised myself to have three pics in a post as a max.All the best, Henk

    1. Bonsoir, je tiens à vous remercier de votre parainage au concours du European award for lifelong passions.Je vais naturellement y participer. A bientôt peut-être si vous visitez l'ile Penotte.

  3. I recently discovered this artist here :

  4. Hi Henk, just wanted to let you know I just nominated your blog for a Kreative Blogger award, please see my post titled Kreativ Writing for details... your blog is great, I hope this will draw a little attention to it... take care, Owen