This unusual statue, “ le matelot ” (the seaman), stands atop a roof in the centre of the seaside resort of Lacanau-Océan, welcoming visi...

Le Matelot: an open-arm welcome to Lacanau-Océan

This unusual statue, “le matelot” (the seaman), stands atop a roof in the centre of the seaside resort of Lacanau-Océan, welcoming visitors to the town. Although the figure that can currently be seen was positioned there in 2006, the story goes further back…

The work is a modern-day take on a statue which was placed there by Jean-Émile Lacaze, the first owner of the accompanying villa which was one of the first to be built in the town upon its creation in 1906. Indeed, Lacanau-Océan is a relatively young town, founded as the result of the extension beyond the inland town of Lacanau of the railway line from Bordeaux (loyal readers will be familiar with the subject, as the route is now a popular cycle path).
The original statue as featured on a postcard promoting
the restaurant business which later took over the building.
The same view today.
Lacaze’s villa was adjacent to the railway station. When alighting from trains, the station building was on passengers’ right while Lacaze’s matelot statue could be seen over to the left. The jovial
A train arriving at
the station and (bottom)
Les Bains Lacaze
as seen from the beach
figure was a particularly popular sight among children after what for many was an arduous three-hour journey from Bordeaux. It meant they had well and truly arrived at the seaside!

The villa was later converted into a restaurant, known aptly enough as “Le Matelot”. In the meantime, Jean-Émile Lacaze had become a respected figure around town, founding “Les Bains Lacaze” in 1908. This seawater thalassotherapy establishment on the seafront made a substantial contribution to the development of the resort, particularly during its 1930s heyday.

Returning to our villa, the original statue disappeared from view during the wartime years in the 1940s and the rooftop remained bare for many years. But as Lacanau-Océan prepared to celebrate its centenary in 2006, the association of home-owners in the town raised money to reinstate the once-familiar figure. They commissioned local artist Frédéric Hauselmann to produce the new life-like statue, which was unveiled by mayor Jean-Michel David on July 9th of that centenary year. 
Tarmac where the railway lines used to be!
The seaman’s open arms have once again become a fixture on the town’s skyline, and while the railway station may be no more, the warm rooftop welcome remains!

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