12 June 2010

Victor Billaud and Royan, Charente-Maritime (17), France

Victor Billaud (1852-1936) was born in Saint-Julien-de l'Escap, near Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Charente-Maritime, and started his own weekly newspaper, La Chronique charentaise, in the town at the age of 22 in 1874. It contained articles on literature, poetry, and science. He abandoned the venture two years later, though, encouraged by Frédéric Garnier, the mayor of Royan, to settle in the town and run his own printing press.

There, he started printing Le Phare Littéraire, which had little success, but he soon established La nouvelle Gazette des Bains de Mer de Royan sur l'océan, which was very successful, particularly after the artist Barthélemy Gautier was recruited to draw for it. René, Billaud's elder son, took over the illustrations after Gautier's death in 1893. The paper became a mine of information on life in Royan.

He also founded several other papers, such as Le Royan, which his son Pierre later directed. But Billaud was also known for his postcards, his Guide du touriste (to Royan, of course), his photography, and also for his poetry. He remains one of the best known figures in Royan.

Billaud wrote a poem on each occasion of the unveiling of three public monuments in Royan: for the author and journalist Eugène Pelletan's statue in 1892, for Frédéric Garner's in 1907, and the above World War I memorial in 1921. Only the last has survived.

A street in Royan remembers both Victor Billaud and his son Pierre.
And Monique Chartier's Victor Billaud: Le Chantre de Royan (Vaux-sur-Mer: Bonne Anse, 2005) makes a very good job of remembering not only Victor Billaud, but also much of the history of Royan in general.


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog while conducting some research on 2 publications I have from V.Billaud.
Au Pays des Bounes Champagnes consists of 52 drawings by Gautier. The other, Chez La Guenuche, also by Gautier, consists of 52 as well. I have been unable to locate a date on these publications. If possible, please provide the approximate date and value, if any.
Thank You,

Dr Tony Shaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Tony Shaw said...

(Just noticed an unfortunate error of abbreviation in the previous post, so I've deleted and re-posted with correction.)

Two interesting books there, Christine, and in Saintongeais too.

The Bibliothèque nationale de France has this record for the first:

Gautier, Barthélemy / Au pays des bounes champagnes / Royan / Victor Billaud / 1887

Bookfinder only lists one of these, so out of 150 million books that's a rare copy, and is priced at £54.

The BNF's record of the other:

Gautier, Barthélemy / Chez la Guenuche / Royan / Victor Billaud / 1889

Bookfinder lists two copies of this, priced between about £130 and £150.

But that doesn't at all mean that either book is worth that - a book is only worth as much as it sells for, and the sellers are obviously just guessing about what they imagine they can make. Good luck if you try to sell, although unless you have a market for them, I'm afraid that I doubt that it's worth the effort.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

I must admit that Barthélemy Gautier looks very interesting though. This from Wikipédia:


And this from Sud Ouest about a Barthélemy Gautier evening in Pons a few months ago (May 2011):


There you go. I was regretting not visiting Pons after I found myself driving into it by mistake and later discovering that La tête en friche took place there, but now I find Barthélemy Gautier (1846-93) (hitherto unknown to me, I know) was born in and spent most of his life there. Merde.