Sophie Poirier is “in love” with the Le Signal building in Soulac

Empty of its inhabitants and condemned to destruction, Le Signal has been explored several times by Sophie Poirier. The building inspired the author from Bordeaux who reported in a book, “Le Signal”, real or imaginary stories of the inhabitants as well as the documented testimony of a disproportionate real estate project in the Trente Glorieuses. Third selection in our 2022 summer series “Pages à plage”.

Four floors, 76 apartments, on the front line, 200 meters from the sea and facing “a large beach of fine sand” with “direct access”. At the end of the 1960s, Le Signal showed its strengths in Soulac-sur-Mer and did not fail to attract 75 owners, quite well, even moderately, “convinced that the view of the sea every day is enough to make you happy.”.

From one year to another, the waves increased and approached its windows with an invincible sight. 4.5 meters per year according to specialists. The building is finally under threat, located on a sand dune that is in danger of collapsing.

In 2014, a decree of danger forced the residents to leave and permanently abandon the area. A six-year legal battle followed by the owners to get compensation. An agreement was reached. The Signal is now awaiting a scheduled 2022 breakdown.

complete the story

In the media, in dossiers and articles about coastal erosion and global warming, Le Signal has become an icon, a universal generic illustration. We remember its desperate silhouette, the confused rectangular mass of concrete, a fragile shoreline awkwardly hugging the dune. From the front, side, aerial view, low angle view. Close-up of graffiti on walls, broken windows, gutted doors, duct tape flapping in the wind, entry restrictions.

The news is true. It tells many episodes and twists under one news item, very sad like the others. It was crushed by the passing of the soul of the building, his experience, the unrest of those who lived in it for a long time, “the non-stop fun, from the beach to the apartments, to forget the sandalette, or the flower towel that we found. the next day, brought back by someone in the hall or at the foot of the stairs”.

To fill these gaps left without mercy through continuous information, to restore a certain reality, useless for some and important for others, like putting a face of a heard name, an author falls for it. “It is neither homely nor logical to fall in love with a building whose fate is about to disappear,” he wrote.

And yet the story must be completed, this story. And who better than Sophie Poirier to do it? Who better to tell Le Signal differently, in a book with a title that slaps the sea breeze: “Le Signal”, published by Inculte editions.


“Falled in love” with this beautiful building, Sophie Poirier fell in love from the first day, with a cast and crutches. He entered it for the first time in November 2014, after a video artist friend, Olivier.

“On the second floor, the door is open. The apartment is empty. At the back, in front of the window, two chairs were placed. As we expected.
We sat down. Each in our place. Quiet. The sight looked out to sea. It was not a building, but a boat. I was captivated. An aesthetic shock. Poetic. »

Supporting the evidence, a photo depicts this moment at the end of the book, in a series signed by Olivier Crouzel. The moment the two intruders caught the invitation, at the point of taking – “stealing” – a chair. They meet the owner of the apartment later, who is happy to meet these thieves, “a little fetishist poet”. Sophie Poirier and her partner met with other owners, especially a woman who was “shocked” to see the images inside the Signal on the videographer’s site. But the sincerity of the approach eliminates misunderstandings, new exchanges are woven:

“He sent me photos of his cat, sitting on a stool, in front of the window facing the sea. He stayed there for hours, he told me, hypnotized by the waves, nothing moving and lazy, and happy, like cats. in the sun. And he laughed because he jumped, he wrote, in the path of seagulls. »

“Crazy Poem”

So, until 2019, Sophie Poirier visited the building. He collects every memory, every sign of life, every encounter and reports it in words, in writing, sometimes his own, sometimes the exiles. The reader trembles, amazed, by the fragments of joy experienced at this end of the Médoc and by the many documented details of a coastal program that promises nine buildings.

The author is alive and always Le Signal with the obsession of a passionate love. It occupied his thoughts and haunted him until this trip to Greece, where another abandoned building reminded him of the one that “crystallized” inside him. “The White Beach hotel is superimposed on the Signal. »

For five years, he regularly visited Le Signal and saw it transformed through the intervention of asbestos removal technicians. Sophie Poirier was surprised to see the building, which had become a skeleton, “still able, after all the suffering, to offer this crazy poetry, to invent this new landscape, in the sea of ​​transparency , almost in symbiosis”.

Books where the hero is a building are rare. It is also rare that those who dig into the many subtleties of a subject that the news is without doubt, lapidary and without mercy. We know the story ends badly, and we are in no rush to turn the pages. We read them. Sometimes we raise our heads to imagine the scene, these curtains coming out from the half-open windows to lick the facade, these sunsets from the end of the world, the sound of the waves that hit the beach. Listen to the roar of the sea and show that it has the last word, the last memory, the one that tries to erase many others and that the author wants to save in this very sensitive book.

Subscribe or offer a subscription to allow Rue89 Bordeaux to expand its writing

Leave a Comment