all pictures courtesy of Michel Craipeau (Flickr dec 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 atrraction that is very special.
An old quarter of the town, named l´île penotte (the penotte island) is dotted with wall decorations executed as mosaic.
Life and works
When Danielle 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 neighnourhood of l´îsle penotte has been decorated with Danielle´s colourful shell frescoes.
The local authorities are sympathetic to this creative variety of urban renewal and they agree that many of the street name signs and other public utilities are 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.
* Dan Aubin's personal website (in french), 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
* On Daily Motion a video showing the decorations
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 apr 2009, revised feb 2015
La dame aux coquillages
Quartier l´îsle penotte
Les Sables d´Olonne, dept Vendée, region Pays de la Loire, France