History of Saint Michel-Chef-Chef

Let you tell the story of Saint Michel-Chef-Chef, from its origins to the present day.
Il été une fois Saint Michel-Chef-Chef, Plage et Rochers de Comberge
History of Saint Michel

The presence of man has been attested to since ancient times on our coast. The prehistoric excavations at La Roussellerie and Gohaud bear witness to this (remains of pottery in particular).

It is difficult to follow the history of Saint-Michel over the centuries. The documents remain rather discreet. Its origin, around the 9th century, could be an almshouse or a leper colony.  

Around 1104-1113, a piece of land, called Cheveché, seems to have belonged to the Lords of Retz. In 1275, we see Girard II Chabot calling himself "lord of the parish of St Michel de Chevescier" and this is the first mention we have of the church of Saint-Michel.
In 1413, Saint-Michel was exchanged with Guy de Laval, who was none other than the father of Gilles de Retz, a famous companion of Joan of Arc, Marshal of France, but also famous, after Joan's death, for the fear he caused in the Pays de Retz by his crimes against children and the practice of witchcraft which ruined him. After Joan of Arc's death, he retired to his lands and spent his immense fortune. Saint-Michel was part of the debacle and was ceded, on 10 June 1435, to Jean de Malestroit, bishop of Nantes, who had long coveted it. Gilles de Retz was condemned to be hanged and then burned (only in part) in Nantes in 1440.  

In 1448, Saint-Michel was returned to the Sires de Retz, to Marie, daughter of Gilles de Retz. Marie died in 1457 and Saint-Michel passed into the hands of René (Gilles de Retz's brother). René had only one daughter Jeanne who had no children, which caused a succession crisis that lasted 46 years. The estate of the last Duke of Retz became a "feudal estate", in particular the fiefs of Saint-Michel, Sainte-Marie and La Plaine. 

The deed is dated 22 March 1782. Thus, one of the most beautiful estates in France, whose family history had been maintained for 800 years, disappeared.  

On the eve of the revolution, Saint-Michel was a parish of 800 inhabitants, which had a certain amount of well-cultivated land and some meadows. However, the moors dominated and yet the soil of these moors seemed to deserve the care of the farmers. The inhabitants of Saint-Michel are almost all sailors and fishermen. Saint-Michel was already, at the time, a place of passage, as is shown in the cahier de doléances dated 3 April 1789: "that the opening and maintenance of the main roads should no longer be at our expense, but that the expenditure should be made by the Public Treasury, since they are useful to all".  

In 1843, Saint-Michel had only about fifty houses grouped around the church and the cemetery.  
  • Il été une fois Saint Michel-Chef-Chef, la plage
  • Il été une fois Saint Michel-Chef-Chef, La Grande Rue
  • Il été une fois Saint Michel-Chef-Chef, Route de la Source
History of Tharon-plage 

It was in 1895 that the chalets began to be built on the beach. In 1902, three friends, Boismain, Du Chatelier and Guillou, signed a deed of purchase in joint ownership of a property located between the Calais and the Tharon, with a surface area of 120 hectares, including 21 hectares of vines. These friends decided to subdivide the land to sell "Les Sables" and called on Mr Chevrier, a draughtsman in Nantes (hence the name of our avenue Ernest Chevrier).

In 1910, 188 lots were sold. Buyers came from Nantes, the Pays de Retz, and later from the Angers region. Thus was born Tharon-Plage, the "Pearl of the Côte de Jade".

From the past of Saint Michel-Chef-Chef, there remain a few mills, without their wings, well maintained and a few bourgeois houses (Chanteloup, Beaulieu, La Doucinetterie), as well as a tower, avenue du Vieux-Tharon, a vestige of the seigniorial castle of the "Michel".
  • Il été une fois Tharon-plage, Vue panoramique
  • Il été une fois Tharon-plage, Escalier descendant sur la plage de sable fin
  • Blason de la ville de Saint Michel Chef Chef
  • Blason de la ville de Saint Michel Chef Chef/Tharon
Coat of arms and municipal coat of arms 

Saint Michel: "Gules with ten bezants of gold posed 4, 3, 2 and 1, ford is Malestroit, with the chief of azure supported of gold".

Comments: Creation of the clerks of Vannier in 1703 for the parish of Saint-Michel-du-Chevèchier (chief gules for Saint-Michel and chief sustained by a second for the rank of chevèchier). M. de Maupeou had the ten golden bezants added in memory of Malestroit (whose arms were Gules with nine golden bezants, 3, 3 and 3.).

Tharon-Plage: "Argent on a saltire of vair between four stars gules and charged in abyss with a ringlet gules".

Comments: Arms of the Michel family, nobles of Tharon