Louis Renault, the French Henry Ford

Chausey Islands, May 25 2017

Very few people visit this tiny archipelago huddled between Normandy and Brittany, 30 kms north the Mont Saint Michel, in the bay with the second highest tides in the world after Lundy Bay in Canada. But still, it is a jewel that beats in authenticity all the sun inondated tropical islands of the southern seas. The main island, state property only at its southern top, is a mile long and shelters a lighthouse, a small fort a church and a few fishermen’s houses. The rest of the archipelago is owned by a few families who jealously keep it genuine and tidy despite the tourists strolling along the island every day in summer, coming from mainland by ferry boats.

In 1921 the mighty automobile mogul Louis Renault discovered the place, fell in love -who would not- and decided to build here his den. But a billionaire den is not a shack. Look at the Vanderbildt, Steve Gates, Donald Trump’s multimillion dollars estates. Thank God, Louis Renault was more of a Henry Ford than a Donald Trump: no fluff, no thrills , no glitz, frugal, workaholic, asocial, obsessed by motors and mechanics, he built on the ruins of the the old medieval castle a discreet , almost gloomy castle hidden by trees and bushes. 200 workers distracted from the Renault factories did the job in 3 years – no abuse of corporate assets in those days -…

Louis Renault found there a den to forget his huge  responsiblities, until his death in September 1944 tortured and assassinated in the hands of communist resistants who wanted to punish him, without fair trial, for having let his factory manufacture tanks and trucks for the German army during the Occupation.

An American B17 was shot down on June 8 , 1944, 2 days after DDay,  above mainland Normandy, and crashed on the archipelago , killing 4 in the crew  and 2 cows of the unique farm of the island. In the 50 ‘s children still played on a large chunk of its wing rotting on a small beach…

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