Sea side

Luc over time

la DouvetteWhile it is impossible to say when men came for the first time to settle on the land here, there are quite a few finds dating from the Neolithic. These show how some 5,000 years ago, a human population lived in the area, which has been occupied ever since.
This population settled along the Douvette, then a large stream, and near a forest that extended where the coastline now lies. We have the evidence of a menhir very likely dating from that time. All that remains of this standing stone is the base, which is kept in Luc and is the property of the Société Préhistorique Française.

The Celtic (or Gallic) period is indicated by the very name "Luc", lucus in Latin, suggesting the presence of a sacred grove. We do in fact see the remains of a forest, now under water, on the town's western boundary. There seems to have been a religious centre at the time comprising Lion, Luc and Douvres.

menhirThe name "point du jour" (daybreak) likely comes from the Latin, meaning a mill that the Gauls installed along a stream running along Luc's east side. Notice how the stream that worked the mill became an underground river, with fresh water now reappearing about 1km out to sea.

The Gallo-Roman period has left numerous signs that the area was then heavily populated and very busy. In addition to the main road from Bayeux to Rouen (passing through Reviers and Douvres) there was a military communications line taking in Bernières, Langrune, Luc, Lion etc. Many Roman remains have in fact been discovered in all the neighbouring towns, most notably the remains of a kiln dating from the Gallo-Roman period for firing pottery and tiles, in the cliffs between Luc and Lion.

SarcophageAll this Roman civilisation is still present in the area, despite the devastation of the Alemanni invasion in the 3rd century. Some Merovingian sarcophagi were discovered in 1936, near the Town Hall Park; they were part of a Gallo-Roman burial ground. Two of them are kept in the Town Hall Park. Up until the late 8th century, the population were mostly Romans and Gauls, but Charlemagne, conquering and evangelising Saxony, deported part of the population to the Ouistreham and Bayeux area; which is why the whole region was then called Saxo Litus (Saxon coast), and the names of some neighbouring towns (Ouistreham, Plumetot) evidence their Saxon origins.

Then came the Norman invasions in c. 1096; we note the presence at Luc of one THOROLD and another Viking noble TURSTIN who donated land to Caen Abbey; the village of Luc then belonging to the Abbey of St Stephen (Saint Etienne).

Later on, Douvres canton was laid waste during the Hundred Years War. The existing fortified castles were destroyed, including the one at Luc (where there is still a place called Le Château).

le The area seems to have recovered quickly out of the ruins, and in the early Renaissance, a number of manors and castles in the new style were built at Luc, Bernières and Lion

Protestantism put in a brief appearance, but an important one at Luc, which was one of the parishes forced to open a Protestant graveyard. This cemetery was set up midway between the village and the sea-front. Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the spot was nicknamed "le Petit Enfer" (Little Hell).
le In 1561, the garrison at Caen Castle, which had a Protestant governor, launched an expedition against Douvres to destroy the sanctuary, where the miraculous statue of the Virgin was venerated. Tradition has it that it was smashed on the beach at Luc (at La Brèche Moulin) and thrown into the sea. A local inhabitant reportedly salvaged a few fragments and a piece was embedded in the church wall in Luc. As the church was destroyed in the late 19th century, we have no way of knowing for sure.

The reign of Henri IV restored calm, and there was a feeling of well-being until the Revolution.

While there was little counter-revolutionary activity in the canton, the coast was a centre for ferrying emigrants to England and for the Chouans to reach their foreign contacts.

Les baigneursAfter the Restoration, in around 1820, Luc stood out as the oldest of the Côte de Nacre seaside resorts. With its 2,000 inhabitants, Luc was the most heavily populated area on the Calvados coastline. The beach was a haunt of Parisian high society, who rubbed shoulders with English families, aristocrats, generals and members of parliament. You might come across the Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Mademoiselle de Talleyrand, or Monsieur de Chateaubriand. In 1831, the British dandy Lord Brummel came for a picnic…

Les bisquinesThroughout the 19th century, the area was still mostly farmland, growing cereals and vegetables; the produce was shipped to Caen, and also to Le Havre, from the beach, in small flat-bottomed smacks called bisquines.
The ship-owners' homes date from this time, some of them topped with a belvedere from which to survey the boats arriving or sailing.

More recent was the construction of the railway line from Caen to Courseulles. The project was launched in 1863 under the name "Railway line from Caen to the Sea", and was opened in Luc in 1875. This line facilitated communications, producing opportunities for farming and also enabling all the coastal villages to develop into seaside resorts.

Notice a "minor" event of great significance: on January 15th 1887, a sixty-foot whale was washed ashore at Brèche Moulin. Since 1936 its duly preserved remains have enabled the reconstructed skeleton of this whale to go on public display, thereby contributing to enhance the town's reputation.

Affiche Luc sur merLocated in the "prohibited zone" during the last war, Luc was selected by the British for a commando operation led by Lieutenant Gordon Hemming on September 28th 1941, when two of the commando's soldiers fell on our beach.
During the D-Day landings in June 1944, the town suffered some damage from the naval bombardment but, more than the heavy antitank defences on the beach, the rocks of Luc caused the Anglo-Canadian forces to come ashore further east (Riva-Bella) and further west (Langrune - Saint-Aubin).

Then came reconstruction and all the building work that made Luc-sur-Mer the town we know today.