Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chapelle des Mariniers

Lucie and I continued our wanderings down the 'Chemin des mariniers' in search of the chapel. Until recently the Lot River was navigable by boat and by barge. Bigger boats still cruise the river downstream from Cajarc where a series of locks helps them maneuver through shallow places. Up river from about Cadrieu, the river's flow is controlled and only smaller boats (little motor boats for fishermen) are allowed. In the 16th century when this chapel was built, barges plied the riverways moving goods and raw materials up and down the river. Bargemen were called 'mariniers' in French and their jobs could be quite hazardous. The river's flow was not controlled; flooding, bad weather and risky landings all contributed to the dangers bargemen faced.
I'll give you the link to the whole story in French here. If I'm translating it correctly...and there's no assurance of that; the whole painful process of translation could fill up a blog post of its own!....the story is a young woman, engaged to a marinier, prayed to Sainte Marguerite for his safe return. There's also something about a magician and maybe a spell. Her fiancee was safely delivered to her, they got married and lived happily ever after. According to the legend, young engaged couples now come to the chapel to pray to Ste. Marguerite for the success of their marriage, throwing coins in front of the chapel doors to get her attention (or something like that!).
We didn't see any coins.
She's a pretty little saint. I like the way she's looking up...for divine help, perhaps?
Lucie and I sat on a bench outside the doors soaking up the sunshine. I closed my eyes and tried to visualize what this pretty spot must have looked like in the 16th century. None of the little potagers would have been here; the road would have been a dirt path. I think the river bank might have been rocky, muddy and treacherous, maybe even littered with the detrius of using the river for commercial and agricultural purposes. No one would have worried about keeping it clean and pristine for pleasure boaters and waterskiers. I can imagine, though, how thankful the young couple must have been for Ste. Marguerite's intervention!
Here's an old photo of the chapel which by looking at the dress must have been taken around the turn of the century/early 1900's.


  1. I'm so glad to see the inside of the chapel and know the story. I never tried to go in, but I must confess most of the times I was passing it I was on the boat and couldn't get off. It is so pretty and dainty inside. Great shots!

  2. Plying the river was certainly a dangerous trade. Christian Signol, who writes a lot of novels about SW France, wrote a trilogy about a famely of bateliers. Lovely chapel and I love the delicate cross on the roof.