Mémoire de Soye : The castle, the garden, the bunker and the prefabulous prefabs


Launch of the UK 100 on the 11th of July with Mickael Sendra (right) and the mayor of Ploemeur, Ronan Loas

At the end of tiny road, after another one of those roundabouts, lays a spectacular garden, then an abandoned castle, then a huge German bunker, then the Orangerie and finally, what I am really impatient to visit: the Mémoire de Soye two “baraques”, the French one – the 534-10 – and the American one -the famous UK100 we also had in the UK (about 8,000 were imported from America in 1946) -.


I am amazed by all the work Mémoire de Soye has put in the dismantling of the prefabs, their re-assembling on a land which used to count 286 of them till 1991 when the last ones were pulled down! Then they transformed the 2 prefabs into wonderful cosy and cute museums, trying hard and succeeding in finding the right pieces of furniture, the memorabilia etc…


In the UK 100, Mémoire de Soye has chosen to exhibit my photos of Britain prefabs and I feel very honoured my portraits of UK prefab dwellers have found such a wonderful temporary place to stay!


There is nice and gently wave of people coming to discover the “baraques” as we say in France and the other treasures of Soye. The garden is simply amazing. Martine, in charge of it, gives us a passionate tour of its rows of allotments. Eric, also from Mémoire de Soye, tells me more about the castle, which was built by a ship-owner from the Compagnie des Indes between 1784 and 1786.


He also mentions “La Jegado”, a cook who in 1841 poisoned two of the children who lived in the house. Spooky… She actually was a serial killer and might be one of the most prolific in the world!

Conference by Elisabeth Chauvin and Pierre Gencey about the reconstruction of Le Havre

At the Orangerie, the most interesting talk about Le Havre and its post-war reconstruction is taking place. The traffic on the road from Rennes – French people traditionally going on holiday the weekend of the 14 Juillet! – makes me miss the beginning by Elisabeth Chauvin, but I arrive in time to get a good insight of designer René Gabriel’s work, a talk given by expert Pierre Gencey. The atmosphere at the conference is “bon enfant” like the whole event. People hang around and don’t seem to want to leave… Certainly thanks to Ginette’s buvette, naturally baptised Chez Ginette !


The wonderful Ginette herself!
The wonderful Ginette herself!

It’s the passion of Mémoire de Soye’s president Mickael Sendra and of its members that make the project – la cité de l’habitat provisoire – so successful and friendly. And I can’t wait for the new addition to be assembled: a Canadian prefab! A new “Cité Provisoire” is definitely re-taking place where it originally stood! Long life to the new temporary prefab town of Mémoire de Soye.

Pierre Gencey’s excellent blog:


A nice doc about the UK 100 launch by Christophe Hoyet:


Thank you to Eric Daniel for sharing his photos

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