February 14, 2011

Alexis le Breton, Seigneurie de la mare au poivre/Country manor of the peppered pond


this picture from the le Breton family album, 
as published on the weblog of Jean-Michel Chesné
published here with friendly permission 


North of the city of Vannes, in the department of Morbihan, France, the area Landes de Lanvaux comprises nice pastured and wooded countryside, with villages, chapels, castles, woods, megalithes older than the egyptian pyramids…..and…..an untill now rather undiscovered secret…. the domain of the peppered pond…. 

Life and works 

This domain is a creation of Alexis le Breton (1929-2009), who by profession was a farmer. He owned a plot land of some five hectares and when he became retired, around 1986, he began developing this plot, both horticultural and artistic.

Le Breton planted some 200 trees of all varieties, he digged a pond, constructed  a small chapel, a mill, a bar to meet friends, and he made sculptures to beautify the forested landscape of the domain.


this picture and the next one courtesy 
of Michel and Roger Leroux 

Alexis le Breton had no training in sculpting what so ever. He just began. Every morning he was engaged in making creations from stone or wood, done in a naïve style and based upon biblical stories, daily life, politics, actual happenings and universal themes like love. 

Le Breton can be characterised by his witty verbal humour. He liked playing with words. So, as the locality where the domain is situated is named  Mare au sel (Salted pond), he liked to call the pond he had digged himself Mare au poivre (Peppered pond).

He coined the expression Ici on entend gazouiller les elephants  ("Here one can hear the elephants chirping", an expression that has been used as subtitle for the Rémy Ricordeau movie, 2011 about french outsider environments ). In this way many of the sculptures have titles or captions with witty, critical or poetic remarks.

It must be a nice, rewarding excursion to walk along the almost 200 sculptures, which currently are carefully positioned along a trail of some two kilometers which meanders through the domain's wooded landscape.


During his life, the creative work of le Breton hasn't got much public attention and it remained virtually unnoticed. Before 2010 the internet had no references to it. 

A group of friends has become active

In the spring of 2010 however the association Les Amis de la mare au poivre, presided by Marie-Thérèse Pasco, the daughter of Alexis le Breton, begun promoting the site.

Plans have been made to introduce the site to the general public and to make parking and picnick facilities.

Local newspapers and french writers about outsider art published articles about the domain.

Some documentation 
* article in a regional newspaper (in french) 
* weblog of Jean-Michel Chesné (text by Michel Leroux) (in french) 
* post in the weblog of Bruno Montpied (in french) 
* the site appears in  the movie Bricoleurs de Paradis
* series of pictures in Sophie Lepetit's weblog (june 2012); the text of this post has been translated into english and published in my collection of texts about outsider environments. Take a look! 

first published feb 2011, revised jun 2012, dec 2014

Alexis Le Breton 
Seigneurie de la mare au poivre 
Route de Bignan 56390 
Locqueltas, Brittany, France
can be visited saturdays/sundays 14/18 hrs,

1 comment:

  1. Am adding to the list of places to see... am going to need many months I think to see everything you are sharing with us here ! Don't know when I'll have the time. Maybe when retired...
    :-)

    ReplyDelete