The city of Cancale was founded in the sixth century by Saint-Méen, an evangelical monk from Wales who had come to convert Armorica (the part of Gaul that went from the Seine to the Loire, and which included the Brittany peninsula). The name appeared first as "Cancavene", from the Breton "cove" (conq) and "river" (aven). Such rivers would dry over time, making Cancale into a seafarer's territory. Fishermen built houses along the Houle harbour, which has functioned since at least 1032. Every day in the small port, sailors would deliver loads of oysters before setting back out to sea, fishing again before delivering their cargo all the way up the coastline to the big cities of London and Paris. La Houle grew significantly in the middle of the nineteenth century. Winters saw the Terre-Neuvas (fishermen) fill the shores. Construction sites abounded, and it wasn't long before a beautiful sailboat saw the light of day: the Bisquine.
Cancale has always been renowned for the quality of its flat, wild, European oysters, and more recently, for its cupped, farmed, Pacific oysters. Oyster farming is still one of the main economic activities. Yet ocean conservation has been an issue from as far back in time as Louis the Sixteenth, in 1787. In order to avoid exhausting the stocks, the king decreed that oysters could only be collected at Easter, for a period of fifteen days. Just imagine, two hundred bisquines all setting forth at the same time, at the signal of the coast guards! A caravan it was indeed. The boats would deliver their cargo of fish directly into the port, and women sorted each heap at low tide.