Caudebec-en-Caux is located on the right bank of the Seine, roughly halfway by land between Le Havre and Rouen. Contrary to what its name indicates, it is not located in the Pays-de-Caux.
Caudebec-en-Caux, the pearl of the Val de Seine
Caudebec-en-Caux was so named in the 19th century by the French administration to avoid any confusion with Caudebec-les-Elbeuf, a town bordering Elbeuf, both much further upstream on the banks of the Seine, but still in the Seine-Maritime.
Since the Pays de Caux plateau does not include the Seine Valley, this appellation is therefore geographically incorrect.
The first traces of the appellation of the two Caudebec dates back to roughly the same period, that is to say the end of the 10th century. However, these two localities already existed under different names at the time of the Romans, both located on the main Roman communication routes. However, in the current state of archaeological research, a site next to the current Caudebec-en-Caux has produced remains of material dating back to the Gauls as well as the foundations of buildings from the time. This is not the case, for the moment, for Caudebec-les-Elbeuf.
It was after the French Revolution that the first censuses took place at regular intervals. At that time, the two towns had a population varying between 2 and 3,000 people. Today, Caudebec-en-Caux sees its population remained stable below 3,000 inhabitants while its colleague has definitely exceeded 9,000 inhabitants after the Second World War.
The nickname of Pearl of the Val de Seine was attributed to the Municipality by its population itself, to oppose it once again to another pearl of Seine-Maritime, the Pearl of the Val de Saâne, or the Castle of Imbleville, north of Seine-Maritime, on the edge of this small coastal river which bathes its moats.
Caudebec-en-Caux, bygone commercial port
Until François I's decision to create the port of Le Havre ex nihilo, initially for military purposes, there was no port in the Bay of Seine capable of accommodating seagoing ships. The only port that pre-existed was Honfleur's fishing port, subject to tidal constraints and very regularly struggling with siltation problems.
The ships which supplied Rouen and / then Paris thus went up to Caudebec-en-Caux, if necessary with the help of teams of horses on the tracks for this purpose. The birth of the port of Le Havre, backing onto the fishing port of Harfleur, will definitely put an end to this river relay towards Paris, whatever the nature of the goods. Concerning fish, from the 13th century, the progressive but strict supervision of the rules of packaging and the conditions of sale of this product, will cause the rise in power of the fishing ports of Dieppe (Seine-Maritime - Normandy) and Granville ( Manche - Normandie) and will take over in terms of supplying the Capital with "seafood": it is the extension of the Chasse-Marées network, these dilligences of the seafood products, the beginnings of the logistic organizations that allow distances to be erased.
Photomontage : © Tours-in-Normandy.fr
On the maps above and below, the following ports have been omitted, not that their role was minimal, but because the object of this article is to demonstrate the mechanics of supplying the Capital from the main ports and the importance of the Normandy Region in this mechanism, since it is located between the Île de France and its seafront.
Manche : Pirou, Carteret, Dielette, Barfleur, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue,
Calvados : Grandcamp-Maisy, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Ouistreham, Trouville,
Seine-Maritime : Leure, Harfleur, Le Treport.
Yesterday like today, the transport network and especially its quality is vital to deliver fresh products on time. If today 34 hours on average can make people smile, yesterday to achieve this feat with horses had a whole new meaning. Horses for pulling "competition carts" like pulling barges on rivers and rivers from towpaths.
While in the Middle Ages the norm was to travel on horseback between 97 and 120 km per day, supplying Paris with seafood was problematic because geographically outside this range. Unable to act on the state of the roads at that time the State and its Administrations endeavored to reduce the constraints which weighed on transport. A special customs regime is then created, the packaging of the goods is strictly supervised and the "road checks" on this goods disappear. While traveling 150 to 170 km per day was at the time the prerogative of the Royal Stable, quite quickly connecting the ports of Dieppe or Le Treport to the Capital is done on a stable basis of 34 hours, which little by little becomes the standard for fresh fish. The time between unloading at the dock and selling to the customer is limited: 4.5 days maximum in summer ; 5.5 days in winter due to the state of the roads.
Caudebec-en-Caux, port supplying to Paris till foundation of Le Havre in 1517.