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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this website is here.

Mid October, 1954, Le Marais Saint-Paul:

Reference number for this case: 16-Sep-54-Le Marais Saint-Paul. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In the Abbeville issue of the regional newspaper Le Courrier Picard, on page 4 for October 16, 1954, there was a really silly article about a local observation. Ignoring poor jokes by journalists, I can sum it up like this:

A young butcher boy had come to tell at the newspaper's office that a woman from Abbeville had seen a saucer in the sky over the Ponthieu, above the Saint-Paul marsh.

After replying that the woman should bring the saucer to them, the journalists decided to go to her house, that is to say at Madame Bonnard's, a 79 1/2 year old widow, at the Marais Saint-Paul.

They found her in her little house, in an alley just passable and delimited by tall grass.

The newspaper said that her rare neighbors envied her for having seen a saucer, while the youngest people scoffed at her a bit, but that she "defends herself with an ardor which should convince, apparently the most pessimistic." She explained to them that there are people who say that she is crazy, but that she is not.

She explained that while she was lying alone at home, she had seen a round saucer, in the shape of a basin, majestic, "like a bowl flying in the air, all lit up with a vertical rod", with red and white bulbs, "lit everywhere, from bottom to top, from top to bottom"; the journalists then suggested that it was a parade saucer, "with improved lights, like lanterns for a Martian's July 14th."

The thing had advanced slowly, without noise, there was no engine, and the spectacle was very beautiful.

The saucer was not very far from her, above the Marais Saint-Paul, between La Portelette and the Faubourg Rouvroy, going in the direction of the sea; she sais she cannot really judge its height. She said she had seen planes during the last two wars but had never seen anything like this.

The journalists asking her if she could have had hallucinations, she protested: "I have never had a fad, sir! I can see clearly and I can hear well. It was as I tell you."

She retorted that since they are journalists, it was up to them to inform on the matter, to determine what it was, and where it came from, then obtaining as an answer:

- Okay, madam... We're going to call the sky!

Unfortunately, the sky did not respond and, to make matters worse, the operator on duty did not want to put us in communication with the planet Mars, for the sentimental reason that we were born under the sign of Aquarius.

Thus, in Abbeville, the mystery of flying saucers remains unresolved!

The ufological treatment of the case thereafter will not be better:

In the 2000s, a US website listing UFO sightings indicated that on September 16, 1954 in Le Marais Saint Pol, France, "an unidentified object was sighted, but with appearance and behavior that most likely would have a conventional explanation. One object was observed."

The source was said to be Jacques Vallée's computer catalog.

Reports:

[Ref. cpd1:] "LE COURRIER PICARD" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

AN OCTOGENARY FROM THE MARAIS SAINT-PAUL
saw a flying saucer
of a new model pass

We had to - by the way - talk about it yesterday! While we regretted (almost) that our city and its district had not yet had the "good fortune" to record the appearance of a flying saucer, a young butcher boy came to declare to the Office of our newspaper, that an Abbeville female resident had seen - with her own eyes seen - a saucer in the sky of the Ponthieu, above the Marais Saint-Paul.

We almost didn't take it seriously!

- Go tell the eyewitness to come and see us and bring us the saucer, we replied!

But, thinking about it, we went to the address indicated: at Mme Vve Bonnard's, 79 1/2 years old, at the Marais Saint-Paul.

An investigation is an investigation! Here's what ours gave:

A FLYING BASIN...

In a small house, in an alley just walkable and bounded by tall grass, we find Mrs widow Bonnard that her rare neighbors envy because... "she saw a flying saucer!" (The era of privileges is not abolished...)

The younger kids joke around a little; but she defends herself with an ardor which should convince, it seemsm the most pessimistic.

- What is it? she tells us. Do you know that there are people who say that I am mad... gosh! but these people are crazy!...

So, madam, did you see this flying saucer?

- As I see you... It was round, in the shape of a bowl... Lit everywhere, from bottom to top, from top to bottom...

- A parade saucer, we think, with improved lights, like the lanterns of a Martian July 14.

But hush. Let's listen....

- Yes sir, and the saucer was advancing slowly, slowly, silently. No engine, nothing. How beautiful it was, how beautiful it was.

- And where did it go, this saucer?

There, Sir... not far away... It was so beautiful that I can't say. It passed over the Marais Saint-Paul, at a height that I cannot locate well, between the Portelette and the Faubourg Rouvroy, in the direction of the sea... Yes, I even made this reflection, that it was heading towards the sea. I remember it very well. I was in bed, and I saw it pass majestically, with red and white luminous bulbs... I was alone at home, but there must have been others who saw it.

- No news in this direction, as far as we are concerned...

- That's odd! my kids had gone to town and they haven't seen it either. If they had been there, they would have called. But when they got back, I told them about it and told them that I did see a flying saucer before I died...

What is not - let's be serious - a matter of laughing!

"BASINATING" STORY?"

Without playing Saint-Thomas, we are perplexed. But the saucer lady continues:

- It was beautiful, very beautiful! More beautiful than an airplane. It was like a basin flying in the air, all lit up with a vertical rod...

- A kind of chandelier then?

- If you want! But I can't believe there was someone inside, as they say. It is true after all, that on planes, when you don't know what it is, who could say that there is someone in it?

This is a point of absolute truth!

- You know, continues our interlocutor, these are not things to joke about. Ones does not make up a "canard" (sic). I have already seen planes during the last two wars, but I have never seen rhis...

- You don't think you've been hallucinated, as can happen to everyone?

The lady brandishes her cane and explodes (almost):

- I have never had a fad, sir! I can see clearly and I can hear well. It was like I tell you. And you who are journalists, you must know how a flying saucer is made!

So here, we admit humbly, but without shame, that we have never seen one... but patience!

- It's a thing, continues Ms., like I've never seen before. But it was beautiful, it was beautiful.

It must have been beautiful, because she only repeats this....

And you will only have to inform yourself, she tells us, as we leave her, where it came from ...

- Okay, madam... We're going to call the sky!

Unfortunately, the sky did not respond and, to make matters worse, the operator on duty did not want to put us in communication with the planet Mars, for the sentimental reason that we were born under the sign of Aquarius.

Thus, in Abbeville, the mystery of flying saucers remains unresolved!

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on 16 September 1954 in Le Marais Saint Pol, France, "An unidentified object was sighted, but with appearance and behavior that most likely would have a conventional explanation. One object was observed."

The source is indicated as "Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073)."

[Ref. ubk1:] "UFO-DATENBANK":

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19540916 16.09.1954 Le Marais St Pol France NL

Explanations:

"Le Marais St Pol" does not exist in France as far as I kow. It this is not the subway station Saint-Paul in the Marais district in Paris, then, it may be:

There is a report of an absence of strangeness, therefore, this was likely a misinterpretation. The information is obviously totally insufficient and I found no other source sor far to confirm this observation.

Update on February 18, 2020:

Having found the newspaper article [cpd1] which is obviously the primary source for this case, I was able to clarify certain things:

It was not "Marais-Saint-Pol" but "Le Marais Saint-Paul", which is currently a district of Abbeville in the Somme department.

The date "September 16, 1954" given by [ubk1] as coming from the Vallée catalog cannot be the right one. The case appeared in the newspaper on October 16, 1954, the case is not dated there but had obviously just occurred.

Regarding what was seen:

If an ordinary explanation is needed, there is only one that could be correct in my opinion: a Chinese lantern.

The journalists, too busy to show their fatuity, just missed it, when they wondered wether it was a kind of chandelier for a Martian 14 of July (French National Day)...

Chinese lanterns were not unknown then, especially in the North of France, and these journalists should have known.

This explanation is obviously not to be taken as certain, it is just relatively plausible.

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Le Marais-Saint-Pol, Le Marais Saint-Paul, Abbeville, Nord, Bonnard, night, silent, lamp, luminous, rod, vertical, bulb, red, white, slow

Sources:

[----] indicates sources which I have not yet checked.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross June 16, 2009 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross January 29, 2017 Addition [ubk1].
1.2 Patrick Gross September 13, 2019 Addition of the Summary.
1.3 Patrick Gross February 18, 2020 Addition [cpd1]. Case date chaged from September 16, 1954, to mid October 1954. Place changed from Marais-Saint-Pol to Le Marais-Saint-Paul. In the Summary, addition of what appears above "In the 2000's...". In the Explanations, addition of the part "Update of February 18, 2020."

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This page was last updated on February 18, 2020.