22 June 23 June 2024

Place de la Mairie, Mauzé sur le Mignon

This festival takes place on 4th Sunday in June since a prefectural decree of 1842 asking the municipality of Mauze-sur-le-Mignon to commemorate the memory of the country's child René Caillie, explorer who was the first European to return from Timbuktu in Mali in 1827 with valuable data for science, particularly for the Geographical Society.

The date

  • June 22 and 23, 2024

René Caillié celebrations in Mauze-sur-le-Mignon

Who is René Caillié?

Bernard d'Agesci Museum in Niort

Born in Mauze-sur-le-Mignon in 1799, this son of a convict enlisted at the age of 17 as servant aboard the Loire flute which sets course for Africa and whose admiral frigate is A jellyfish. Devastated by fever, he is repatriated to Lorient. In 1824, he returned to Senegal where he lived for a year with the Braknas, a Moorish tribe, and learned Arabic. In 1827, without guarantor or protector, he traveled the Fouta-Djallon, mountainous massif of Guinea. To be accepted into the caravan, he claims to have been born in Egypt, to have been kidnapped then raised in France, to have followed his master to Senegal who freed him and to want to return to his native country via Timbuktu, mysterious desert city, which he reached on April 20, hidden under bags at the bottom of a canoe. An ethnobotanist before his time, he accounts for everything while hiding behind a bush to write on tiny pages hidden in his Koran. Back in France, he is honored and receives 10.000 francs promised to first European traveler to return alive from Timbuktu, a secret city on the edge of the desert, known before him only through vague fanciful stories! The child of Mauzé, celebrated since 1842, is celebrated every year in June. Its name is given to a street, a bridge and the college.

The genesis of the “René Caillié Festivals”

En 1840, the Statistical Society of Deux-Sèvres plans to erect a bronze bust to the glory of René Caillie. Built by Suc, it was inaugurated on June 26, 1842, four years after his death, near his birthplace (n°145 Grand'Rue), on the old Pont de la Teinture (today Pont R. Curd). Following its popular impact, on July 23, by prefectural decree, a ballad assembly was established on the 4th Sunday of June: the Caillié Festival was born!

Pascale Gautier

In 1938, the centenary year of his death, the elevation ofa memorial is projected. The competition was launched in 1939 by the René Caillié regional committee. In 1941, the contract was signed with Vinet. During the Occupation, the sculpted stones of the base were stored in separate parts in the castle park; the statue was subsequently made in the artist's La Rochelle workshop. The monumental sculpture was finally built in 1949.

In 1942,  the comic strip René Caillié or the triumph of the will is published in the À la Française collection. 1999 will be the Year of René Caillié. In order to give greater visibility to the bicentenary of his birth, the literary prize for travel writing was created. Over the years, he has earned a certain reputation among publishers. 

Pascale Gautier

Since 2017, have been exhibited in the municipal council room of the town hall two large photographs of his house in Timbuktu taken in 1922 by the Méhariste officer and explorer Louis Audouin-Dubreuil during the first crossing of the Sahara (Touggourt-Timbuktu) in half-tracks by the Raid Citroën. These photos were restored thanks to the community heritage fund of Niort Agglo. For the record, an error appeared on the sign placed above the door of the house. It indicates 1800 as the year of birth even though the famous Mauzéen was born a year before!


Program under development!

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