Unlocking Concarneau's heritage image
Concarneau’s municipal web-site paints a picture of a seaside town focussing on its historical
heritage of sardine canning and tuna fishing. No literary connections are made. Only one
stakeholder's web-site, the Hôtel Grands Voyageurs offers any literary history; in their case a brief
mention of the stay in Concarneau made by Gustave Flaubert in 1847 (Grands Voyageurs 2014).
However, Georges Simenon, the author of the Maigret detective novels stayed in the town and set
two of his novels here. The novel explored here is his Maigret police fiction, The Yellow Dog, re-
issued in 2014 in the UK. The built heritage in the French town of Concarneau mentioned in the
Maigret novel is easy to access. For example, the ruin of the granite fort out at Cabellou Point is
free to enter, has an interpretation panel and is secure for the public to visit safely. Whilst no
mention of Maigret is made on the interpretation panel, the good condition and accessibility of the
monument make it ideal for the literary visitor and cultural tourist. The town is home to five
bookshops, unusual for a community with a population of just 21 000. Two of the case participants
(Will 2014) and (Glen 2014) note that in only one bookshop is there any trace of Simenon's novel,
copies of the French paperback version are displayed. Neither the tourist information office nor the
heritage centre display or sell The Yellow Dog. No souvenirs associated with the novel are on sale.
This small seaside town in the west of Brittany provides a research opportunity for investigating
ways of unlocking the intangible cultural heritage in urban spaces accessible to visitors and local
citizens alike. The field research laboratory at Plymouth University: Journey, Place, Narrative aims
to bridge the gap between purely theoretical knowledge by developing practical tools for the
creation of cultural artefacts or by providing access to intangible cultural heritage.
Methodology of the case study
Using approaches from Caughey (2006) to uncover consumers' imaginative practices this study was
designed around the reading of the novel, The Yellow Dog and culminated in two researcher-led
field visits to the town of Concarneau. A more engaged relationship between the project and the 6
respondents was required to maintain commitment over a six-month period. To solve this
engagement issue, a new methodology was introduced, called participant autoethnography,
suggested in earlier research by Coghlan & Filo (2013) and by Ren, Pritchard & Morgan (2010).
The study uses a practice that Coghlan & Filo (2013) call constant comparison method. Their
practice of autoethnography, is closely linked to grounded theory, see also Tavory & Timmermans