Isigny sur Mer is a small town in Normandy situated 25 minutes from Omaha Beach. This town is famous around the world for its industrial dairy history.
The harbor of Isigny sur Mer
(source : http://www.cartesfrance.fr/carte-france-ville/14342_Isigny-sur-Mer.html)
At first, the name of the town was simply Isigny. The origin of Isigny's name dates back before the Norman conquest of England. William the Conqueror (1028 to 1087) had a military commander named "d’Isigny." After 1924 it was renamed Isigny-sur-Mer.
(source : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/ES_11943_-_ISIGNY-SUR-MER_-_La_Place_Gambetta.JPG)
During the 19th century, many dairy factories were built, particularly by the Dupont d’Isigny family. They created the world-famous Isigny caramels. Mister Dupont began in 1889 with a butter factory; In 1894, he created a dairy company called “Dupont d’Isigny.” Fortunately for Dupont, an employee named Ernest Fleutot made an unrivaled caramel recipe.
The caramels are still made today with milk and sour cream from Isigny.
The company is now situated in the town of Carentan, where the Dupont D’Isigny factory makes their famed caramels and an assortment of soft and hard candies. Today, the company exports their treats to more than 40 countries around the world.
An array of caramels made by Dupont d’Isigny
(source : http://dupontdisigny.com/lentreprise/services/)
In the Normandy region, the Normand cows produce high-quality milk perfect for the production of butter, cheeses, and cream.
The Normandy cow
(source : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normande)
A cooperative was created at Isigny sur Mer in 1932, the milk producers brought their milk and it was processed at the factory. There is the same cooperative in Sainte Mere Eglise, created in 1909, which also produced the same range of products.
Old picture of the cooperative
(source : http://www.isigny-ste-mere.com/la-cooperative/l-histoire-d-isigny-sainte-mere/)
The two cooperative decided to merge in 1980 and a big dairy factory named “Isigny Sainte Mere” was built. Renown around the world, they mainly produce cheeses, like the delicious “Camembert”, butter and cream. The cooperative make caramels but the production is realized in a small factory situated in Isigny also called “Caramels d’Isigny”
Camembert cheese made by Isigny Ste Mère
(source : www.isigny-ste-mere.com/)
Caramels made by “Caramels d’Isigny”
(source : https://www.caramels-isigny.com/)
During World War II, Isigny sur Mer was occupied by the Germans; it was more than 60% destroyed by two bombardments on 8 June 1944. The town was an important allied objective and it was liberated on June 9th 1944 by the American soldiers of the 747th Tank battalion with the 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. This division landed at Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944 and suffered a lot of casualties.
This sign was inaugurated on June 4th, 2004 for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
One last funny and interesting fact about Isigny is the origin of Walt Disney's name. The name Disney comes from the title of "Lords of Isigny" awarded in 1066 by William the Conqueror to Robert and Hugues Suhard, to thank them for helping him to conquer England that year. In the following century, "d'Isigny" definitely became "Disney" in England. Walt Disney had his roots in Ireland in the 19th century. Very attached to France, his main source of inspiration, Walt Disney knew the origin of his name because he did research on the subject in the 1950s.
Walt Disney drawing the most famous mouse in the world “Mickey Mouse”
The two lions of the Norman crest were on the first amusement park opened near Los Angeles. If Walt Disney never came to Isigny, he knew Normandy. In 1918, at the age of 17, he landed in Cherbourg to become a paramedic in the army at the end of the First World War. The castle of the Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland Paris is inspired by the silhouette of the Mont Saint-Michel.
On December 14th 2016 a stele was inaugurated in Isigny