She’s one of those untiring kingpins of Saint-Même Heritage who gives guided tours of the village every Sunday. That’s why Evelyne wanted to know more about Laurence Carbonel to create this portrait !

The stone from Saint-Même-les-Carrières have been used in the Cordouan lighthouse and the Château Frontenac in Quebec

My life journey

I was born in 1944 in Saint-Même-les Carrières.
I spent some years teaching in Algeria then came back to France where I changed direction altogether. My husband and I spent several years in the Aisne where I finished my career as an accounts manager.

Destination Cognac -Evelyne Renelus
"alambiqué" portrait of Laurence Carbonel during a visit to the quarries at Saint Même les Carrières

When we retired, we came back to Saint-Même where I joined in community life.
Saint-Même-les-Carrières is situated in the north of the Aquitaine basin and on the edge of the middle valley of the Charente.
It’s an average-sized village, but in the Charente, 1,000 inhabitants is already substantial !

The quarries of Saint-Même are very significant. They’ve been extracting stone here for a thousand years, a face some 2km long, 600m wide and 90m deep; 50m are completely under water."

The quarries have been worked since the 8th century

Charentes Tourimse – Marie-Claire Chene
Cordouan lighthouse in the Gironde estuary, built from Saint Même les Carrières stone

The stone at Saint-Même was formed in the secondary era, dinosaur time, in the Cretaceous and especially the Turonian eras, in other words, 88 million years ago. Initially from the 8th and 9th centuries, it was worked as an open-air quarry, in scattered workings then in galleries from the 17th century. It was in the 19th century that the works reached their apogee thanks to new inventions: electricity, internal combustion engine and the railways. This stone played a very significant role in the second half of the 19th century when French vineyards were almost entirely destroyed by Phylloxera. Saint-Même is the only village in our are not to have seen a diminution in population since the men who no longer had any vines to work came to the quarries where we had 400 to 500 workers. The quarry closed in 1975.

Laurence Carbonel, visite guidée Saint Même les Carrières, portrait alambiqué
Destination Cognac – Evelyne Renelus

Laurence Carbonnel’s Chinese Portrait in 5 questions

If I were a monument,
I’d be a 6th century church with walls covered in mosaics in Ravenna, Italy.
If I were an object,
I’d be an Etruscan vase.
If I were a season,
I’d be autumn.
If I were a culinary speciality,
I’d be a dark chocolate cake decorated with spun sugar.
If I were a legend,
I’d be Odysseus, Ulysses and the cyclops.

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