GUERANDE, France (Reuters) - In the salt marshes of north-west France, Franch Durot, a rake in his hand and a hat to keep off the baking sun, is following in a time-honoured tradition, harvesting salt from the sea by hand.
It is a craft that has been practised at Guerande, in the French region of Brittany, for hundreds of years and has made the salt that comes from here into a delicacy that commands high prices around the world.
The low-lying marshes have been criss-crossed with a grid of earth mounds that creates a network of rectangular lagoons. Sea water from the Atlantic is flushed into the lagoons through ditches, then allowed to evaporate.
When the salt in the water reaches the right concentration, it forms into snowflake-like crystals which the workers rake out of the water into small white heaps and load into wheelbarrows. They then move onto the next lagoon and repeat the process.
Durot, who has been doing the job for 23 years, said the high temperatures this month meant more work, as the evaporating water yields more salt.
“This year, in 2020, we’re seeing really good productivity,” he said on a break from raking up salt. “We’re facing a peak of heat at the moment.”
Reporting by Yann Tessier, Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones
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