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Binic (Municipality, Côtes-d'Armor, France)


Last modified: 2007-02-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: cotes-d'armor | binic | ermines (black) | fishes: 2 (white) |
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[Former flag of Binic]         [Flag of Binic]

Flags of Binic - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 13 March 2004

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Presentation of Binic

The small port of Binic (Breton, Binig; 3,200 inhabitants) is located on the part of the northern coast of Brittany called côte du Goëlo, on the western bank of the bay of Saint-Brieuc.
The name of the city most probably comes from pen (Breton, head) and ic, the name of a small river. Binic would therefore mean "the mouth of river Ic".

Neolithic remains have been found in Binic, for instance the menhir (erected stone) called la Chaise de Saint Gilles (St. Giles' Chair) and other megalithic monuments whose stones were used in the XIXth century to rebuild the quays of the port. Binic was later a Celtic, then Roman fortified camp (oppidum).
In the Middle Ages, the village, then called La Ville de Binic, had only 20 houses and was a part of the parish of Etables-sur-Mer.
Binic was granted the municipal status in 1821 only, due to the lobbying efforts by the shipowner François Le Saulnier de Saint-Jouan, a cousin of the famous corsair Surcouf (1773-1827) from Saint-Malo. Le Saulnier was the first elected Mayor of Binic, who had then 1,611 inhabitants.

In 1845, Binic was the most important French port for the so-called Grande Pêche. The fishers from Binic, along with the Basque fishers, were among the first ones to go fishing on the Newfoundland banks. A ship from Binic called La Catherine was seen near Newfoundland in 1523. The fishers from Binic invented a method called bénicasser la morue, now lost: it might have been either a method of conservation of fished cod or a system of distribution of fished cods among the ships. Anyway, there were in 1845 37 ships registered in Binic, hiring 1,800 seaman. The average yearly traffic in the port was 150-160 ships, requiring 600 on-shore workers. Accordingly, there were also 37 pubs in the village.
The fishing campaign to Newfoundland involved three-masters called terre-neuvas, after the French name of Newfoundland, Terre-Neuve. The ships left Binic in April for a six-month campaign. Each ship had a crew of 25-36, including the novices, aged 12. At the end of the XIXth century, the three-masters were replaced by schooners and Newfoundland was abandoned for Iceland, the fishing season being February to August. There were still 18 schooners registered in Binic in 1895, but only five of them in 1913.

Binic was progressively transformed in a nice sea resort, but fishing activity was maintained, especially scallop fishing, the main fishing activity in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc. Since 1992, this activity is mostly located in the neighbouring port of Saint-Quay-Portrieux, where a new port and a modern auction room were built.

The most famous native of Binic is Captain François Rioual. He started his career as a novice and was appointed in 1897, aged 26, captain of the big three-master Belem for her second transatlantic journey Nantes-Montevideo-Belem.
The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980), founder of genetic epistemiology, started his long scientific career as a malacologist (shell specialist). He spent his summer vacation in Brittany in 1909. Since there was a n epidemic of typhoid fever in Saint-Brieuc, he had to stay in Binic where he collected a lot of shells. The result of the collect was presented to the Société Neuchâteloise des Sciences Naturelles on 23 February 1911, under the title Les Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles des environs de Binic (Près de Saint-Brieuc, Côtes-du-Nord, Bretagne).

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 13 March 2004

Flags of Binic

The municipal flag mostly used in Binic is horizontally divided blue-green (following the design of the departmental flag of Côtes-d'Armor) with BiniC written in white in the middle.

Pascal Vagnat, 13 March 2004

Philippe Rault (Les drapeaux bretons de 1198 à nos jours) [rau98] shows for Binic a banner of the municipal arms, blue with two white fishes and a chief of ermine.
Brian Timms gives the English blazon for the arms as "Azure two fish fesswise in pale argent a chief ermine".

Ivan Sache, 13 March 2004