The auction at the port of Royan, an ancient story

Caught with a line or captured with a net, sole, lean and bass finish their race Quai des Sabliers at port of Royan. Here stands the fish market, more commonly called shouted from Royan, auction place frequented by wholesalers and fishmongers. They come there to stock up on goods seized offshore and freshly unloaded at the port. In the auction room, the "cries" of yesteryear have died down. The lapping of computer keys and the red light of electronic displays have replaced them.


At the shouted, do not enter whoever wants. Only professionals, buyers or sellers, duly approved by the veterinary services have the right to participate. This very selective regulation makes it a place apart, almost secret. Here, the law of the market, in the most literal sense of the term, does its work according to the arrivals of seafood.

The first auction of the station takes place in 1875. . At the time, these frenzied auctions on good food took place under the vaults of the marina. In the hubbub and turmoil of the trade, the shops of Royan sometimes prepare and cook the products taken off or near the coast in order to serve them directly to consumers of the vintage.


A century later, the activity was transferred to the outpost of the port, Quai des Sabliers. A specific building was erected according to the modernist plans of the local architect Marc Quentin. On this technical platform, an average volume of 700 to 1 tons of fish. About thirty boats, gillnetters and trollers depart weekly. On the one hand, some will trap sole or bass in their trammels for some. The others renew their artillery of hooks every day, which they immerse to bluff the carnivorous species: rays, meager, and other sea bream.

The silence of the sea at the Royan auction

Back at the port, the fishermen unload their cargo Quai des Sabliers. They then pass it to the sorter in order to facilitate the constitution of future batches to be placed on the market. The machine receives so-called flat or pleuronectiform fish, such as turbot and brill. Special treatment is reserved for the soles. A grader specific allows them to be ordered according to their size. The mechanism even distinguishes up to six categories of different sizes! The goods are then stored in a containment chamber. There, in contact with a curtain of permanently vaporized cold water, the "flesh" of the fish is better preserved than with ice.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are sale days proper. The lots circulate in bins in front of buyers. They bid in silence from a button connected to a computer system. Prices are displayed and scroll overhead on digital screens. This ritual, much more discreet and hushed than before, is only the visible part of a huge iceberg. At least 70% of transactions are now done at the same time via the internet, by merchants who operate remotely and do not travel to Charente-Maritime.

A quality approach for line fish

Remember that Royan, the fish sold at the auction is reputed to be more expensive than elsewhere. According to local tradition, professionals in the sector rely on noble species. Based on fishing and conservation standards established by strict specifications, they prioritize quality on volume. This therefore drives up prices when demand is high. This approach takes the form of placing a numbered pin on the products. He represents a guarantee of their traceability when they are placed on the market. These measures are now famous for the line bass marketed in Royan. But meager, sea bream (grey and royal), whiting or common sar are also three species referenced under the brand “Signed Poitou-Charentes”.

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