Glaces et crèmes glacées Pompon sur les planches de la plage de Deauville depuis 1919
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From the Rio-Pas to Deauville

It is in 1919 that begins the story of Glaces Pompon in Deauville. Even if the expression "to begin" is not really true because it seems that a DIEGO family, of Spanish origin, already practised this activity on the coast before 1919. As for the term "Glaces Pompon " indicating the brand, its origin has not to date been established. Except that several mobile ice-cream makers of this time also used this name, in Honfleur for example.

Those in Deauville were three brothers and a sister, Joseph, Manuel, Fernand and Maria ORTIZ. Originating from a region of the North of Spain, in the Cantabriques mountains, called the Rio-Pas, coming from a poor family, they immigrate in France one after another, uniting to try to survive in this country where misery forced them. In Spain, up to the age of 13 years, Manuel guarded cows and sheep. A day of 1908, a man passing in the village took him over the border to make him sell "pleasures". Later, Manuel will become a lumberjack, then will work in Evreux at RUIZ, an ice-cream maker. At the same time, one of their cousins, Luis ORTIZ, also arrives in France in the same conditions and, after many adventures, will set up in Saint-Dizier. This is another story of ice-cream makers, but how similar...

June 19, 1919

In June, 1919, Fernand and Manuel meet in Deauville, having learnt that a certain DIEGO, of Spanish origin, is selling a fleet of seven ice-floats and a chestnut-heating machine. The business is done for 7.000 francs of the time. The sale of the first ices by the four ORTIZ begins exactly on June 19, 1919. The following season two other floats will be bought from a brother of DIEGO who lived in Saint Valéry en Caux in the Seine Inférieure.

The dispersal of the group of four

In 1921, the season continues without Joseph who leaves the group for a while. Then Manuel and Maria set up as greengrocers in Vimoutiers. Fernand will continue alone, sometimes with Joseph until 1927, before seting up in Lisieux where he continues his activity. There he meets Alice whom he will marry. For a while Fernand and Alice will abandon ice-creams because, in 1928, the Basilica of Lisieux is built. Many Italian workers work on this immense construction site. So, Rue du Moulin in Tan, Fernand and Alice open a restaurant where will live some of these Italian workers. In 1932, Fernand resumes his itinerant salesman's activity. Lisieux's " Glaces ORTIZ " with their handcarts and ice floats, are still present on Place Thiers and at the festivities of the villages around Lisieux. At one of these festivities appears, for the first time, the famous power-driven delivery tricycle Juéry (the firm Juéry in Paris, had specialized in the manufacture of the pousse-pousse used as a human driven taxi in Indochina, then a French colony. Later, it will diversify its activity to become manufacturer of delivery tricycles for the ice-cream peddlers).

Ortiz ice-creams are delicious

The quality of ice-creams ORTIZ makes the reputation of the brand in the Pays d'Auge. Joseph, the eldest, had the reputation of a fabulous ice-cream maker and had known how to pass on his knowledge to his brothers. A float or a delivery tricycle with the sign ORTIZ was enough for an immediate queue of impatient customers to form. The ORTIZ firm will develop its own activity in Lisieux and will later become, under the impulse of Raymond ORTIZ, an important firm in frozen foods. But generations of Lexoviens (Lisieux's inhabitants) will remember the float with the sign ORTIZ that stayed so many years on Place Thiers.

An old Vimonasterian family

When she comes across Manuel ORTIZ in Vimoutiers in 1921, Esther DOYENNEL is a beautiful blonde young lady, the most beautiful lady of Vimoutiers as it is said. She is the third of a family of 11 children of Louis DOYENNEL and Marie BRICOTE. Born on the 2nd August 1900, in the Hamlet of the Calvary near Vimoutiers, she descends through her father from an old farming family whose traces one finds in the local archives of the Orne since 1629; all her ancestors since the 17th century, and probably before, lived in the Hamlet of the Calvary, at the top of the Côte de la Bergerie in Vimoutiers. In the 11th century, the monks of the Abbey of Jumièges, the owners of a farm in Vimoutiers, donate it to the Deanship of this town (the Deanship grouping several parishes under the authority of a Dean). One can think that there lies the origin of the name DOYENNEL, that is the persons who were attached or were rented to this farm. Louis, the father of Esther, is an only son. He could have hoped to inherit the large farm of his father François, situated in the top of the Côte de la Bergerie. But in 1892, Marie LEHOUX, mother of Louis, dies at the age of 52. After a widowhood of 9 years, François remarries in 1901 with Rosalie HOUEL, widow THOUIN. Mutual incompatibilities between Marie BRICOTE and her father-in-law François deprive Louis DOYENNEL, at François' death in 1903, of the inheritance which will be passed on largely to the François' second wife. Louis will receive only two small houses situated Rue des Près Gateaux in Vimoutiers. The DOYENNELs are then driven to become caretakers in various farms of Vimoutiers's neighborhood, at the DUHAMELs then in the village of Les Maris. The family, which lives meagerly, is devote and very conformist. To this day, the DOYENNELs remember the extreme rigour of Grandmother Marie BRICOTE, whose miserliness was proverbial. Simone, one of the girls will enter a convent of the Nuns of the order of St Clare in Alençon where she will remain cloistered up to her death in 1940; Esther, the most alert, finds a job with Doctor DENTU, the mayor of Vimoutiers, the future senator of the Orne. Raymond at 13 years becomes a pupil carpenter at GOUTTIER.

Esther and Manuel meet

While shopping for the DENTUs, Esther, in 1921 , will come across this Spanish immigrant, Manuel ORTIZ, who has just opened a greengrocer's shop in Rue du Moulin in Vimoutiers. Esther has many would-be husbands, but it is for this beautiful Spaniard that her heart starts beating. They marry end of 1922, to the great displeasure of her parents who will absolutely not accept such a union. No member or friend of the DOYENNEL family will attend the ceremony, excepted Anne-Marie, daughter of Doctor DENTU, as the traditional wedding photo reveals.

Street of Moulin

For Manuel ORTIZ the life is hard in Vimoutiers. The presence of this Spanish immigrant who sets up his own business, causes a certain hostility from certain storekeepers of the Rue du Moulin who launch a real campaign to discredit him. Further, the DOYENNEL family put the young couple in quarantine. Raymond, Esther's younger brother visits them secretly. As a result, shortly after the marriage, the coalition family-storekeepers forces them to leave Vimoutiers. They settle in the Pas de Calais, in Lens. Manuel works in the mine winters and will continue to sell ice-creams summers. Later, young Raymond will follow them there, working too in the mine and selling ice-creams which he learns to make from Manuel.

From Len's mine to the beach

In 1927, Esther's health declining, they return to Normandy where, pursuing the same objective, Manuel finds his two brothers, Fernand and Joseph, who continue to sell ices in Deauville and Lisieux. Meanwhile, two children were born in Lens, Jeanine and Manuella. This same year, Fernand ORTIZ sells the ice-cream firm to Manuel and Esther who settle down in the same place, in a backyard 12 Rue Thiers in Deauville. Raymond DOYENNEL, there also, will accompany them as aide during the season 1928, before joining "La Coloniale" regiment. Later, during his holidays, one day arriving from Saigon or Shanghai, another time from Nagasaki or Nankin, Raymond will sell Glaces Pompon ice-creams in Deauville.

The rue Thiers in Deauville

To live and work in this backyard, Manuel, brave and imaginative man, will build on the floor, with fireproof bricks and some cement, an oven with coke intended to heat the milk necessary for making ice-cream. This ice-cream is made in a small "girthed turbine" of 10 liters, called sorbetière and is made by turning by hand. Later will come the crank which puts in movement a mechanism of cogs set against each other, like the differential of a motor back deck. A brilliant invention. In the center of this turbine, a wooden drummer, similar to that of a churn with butter, turns in the opposite direction. Manuel and Esther sell these ice-creams, on the bridge between Deauville and Trouville and in front of Deauville's bus station, with wooden floats on small cartwheels which they push using two stretchers. The ice-cream keeps very well, even in great heat, because the steel - called carafe - which contains the delicious product, is situated in a big wooden tub in which one placed ice cubes and salt, "girthed" by two or three sacks of jute, previously apple sacks. At the time, one does not know any other method to protect from heat. One does not know the cornet, one serves the ice in cardboard boxes and eat it with a small palette (a flat piece of cardboard). One is far from rich because the season of ice-creams is short on the coast. Even when the season was good, it is necessary to live through the winter without making any ice-cream as fashion has not yet come round to eating ice-creams all year long. The refrigerator and the freezer are not yet part of household's furniture. So winters one sells warm chestnuts. To live in this backyard shed which is absolutely not designed for comfort, Manuel will fix it up, using wooden slats, pieces of vegetable trays and some wrapping paper. In this backyard shed of Rue Thiers will be born one of their nieces whose first cradle was a melon-tray converted in an unexpected way. Some years later, in 1930 , having put aside a few savings, Manuel and Esther will set up in a farm in Saint Gatien des Bois where they will stay until 1958. They will give up the business to Suzanne and André Laurent who have also two small girls, Andrée and Micheline. Suzanne was Esther's sister. The business did not go out of the family.

The Ortiz meet the Ortiz

One sometimes wonders about the links between the ORTIZ of Glaces Pompon, and the ORTIZ, founders of the group ORTIZ-MIKO in Saint-Dizier. The group ORTIZ-MIKO has for origin Luis ORTIZ, born like his cousins Manuel, Fernand, Joseph and Maria in the same region of Spain. Luis arrives in France in 1905 in the same conditions as Manuel in 1908. One finds traces of him selling pleasures in Nancy in 1911, as a worker in a glass factory in Clichy in 1913, odd job man in 1918 in Rochefort, and mobile ice-cream salesman in the area of Saint Dizier in the 20s. But their ice-cream businesses developed at the same time without any particular links. Luis and his wife Mercedes had 5 sons, Louis, Joseph, Jean, Vidal and André. This last one, to escape the work conscription imposed by the Germans during the war, jumps from the train in Dijon and finds refuge in Saint Gatien des Bois where he meets Jeanine, Manuel's daughter. It is there that they marry in 1945. So, Jeanine ORTIZ, by marrying André ORTIZ, enters what will become the ORTIZ-MIKO group which, in the time, has not the national and international dimension which we know of it today. (refer to Jean GARRIGUES's work " MIKO LE GOUT DE L'ENTRACTE ", published by Editions du MAY).

The Laurent period

André LAURENT and Suzanne DOYENNEL had married in Vimoutiers in 1923. LAURENT, it was a common name in the area. But André had had to present to Suzanne's mother his military record to prove that he was not a foreigner. Once was enough ! Thus all the family could go heads high to the wedding ceremony. But this was counting without the father, Louis DOYENNEL. Vindictive as none, he refused stubbornly to show up because his wife had forced him to miss the marriage of their daughter Esther. And so much later, the children and the grandchildren looking at the photos of the marriage, will look vainly where was the grandfather. No, he was not on the photo as he did not go to the marriage.

Taking over from Manuel and Esther, André and Suzanne begin their first season in 1931. They will keep the backyard of Rue Thiers, but will live in Trouville, Rue d'Alger. The summer season over, they sell fish using bicycles with trailors and, later , with a Citroën B2.

1938 will be their last season. Temporarily as one will see. Raymond DOYENNEL, brother of Suzanne, decides to leave "la coloniale" and buys back the ice-cream business. Having followed Manuel to Lens in 1927, he already knew the profession.

After the war

Begun in 1939, but immediately stopped by the war, the Liberation sees an important expansion of Glaces Pompon on Deauville and Trouville. France breathes,comes back to life. During summer months, thousands of holiday-makers come to the coast, by train, bicycle, tandem, coach, bus. It is the beginning of the great fashion of mopeds, the first models of which are simply bicycles or tandems on which one adapted a small engine, spluttering and smoking under the weight of camping equipment. Then come the first motor scooters by Peugeot and Lambretta, soon replaced by the famous Vespa's.

Trouville and Deauville yes yesterday

The Pont des Belges between Trouville and Deauville is wooden and was not yet rebuilt and made ugly by the two concrete pillars. The Place Morny has not yet its water sprays, the Hôtel Fresnay, former German commandanture, became again a villa, the boys school will see itself completed by a second floor, the orphanage of the Avenue de la République directed by the Dominican Sisters welcomes more than 100 children. Canon GERMAIN replaced Father LAINE who died in 1949. Every evening, before nightfall, the local lamplighter MAILLET goes through the streets of the city to switch on the lampposts one by one. Nobody dares to venture Rue du Gaz, fearing a hail of pebbles. The local communist party, then lead by a grocer called ROCHEREUIL, is in full view, and organizes celebrations and meetings that fill the village hall Avenue de la République. The workers of Trouville and Deauville take the train every morning to go to rebuild Lisieux, bombarded by the allies in 1944.

Deauville had still its image of a spa town with its many villas of baroque style where the rich Parisians came to spend their holidays, taking with them their home personnel. The workers on paid leave - 15 days a year since 1936 - were next to fabulously rich Americans driving sparkling Cadillacs, Buicks, Chevrolets. Many streets was not yet tarred; in 1950, at Trouville's casino, on a single night, King Farouk lost 32 millions in the roulette; the Aga-Khan and Begum lunched in the restaurant La Régence in Trouville; one discovered Coca-Cola and candy floss; at night, young people danced the be-bop; on the beach, one found from time to time explosive devices forgotten since the war; one served dogs their soup in German helmets, remnants of a hasty departure.

Place of buses

In Trouville, on the Place des Cars, left of the casino, come daily loads of day holiday-makers who come " to see the sea and dip your toes in". They do not come from very far these holiday-makers : from the Orne, some from Calvados, the Eure, the Sarthe, the Mayenne and the Manche. From the farms, many of them see the sea for the first time and, at the same time, discover " ice-creams ". After the picnic which they brought along in a basket and which they unpacked on the beach (cider, patés, rillettes, apples, without forgetting the small bottle of alcohol), they are going to try ice-cream, that is ice-creams by Glaces Pompon. The first reaction: "Isn't it cold "! The children ask for second helpings, 15 francs the small portion, 25 francs the big one. Ice-cream is then served in small aluminum pots with wooden teaspoons. One did not lick the ice-cream, one put it in the mouth in small quantities by means of this spatula. A plain farmer who artlessly had wanted to gulp down just like that the ice-cream almost choked so much the cold surprised him. As he was hot-headed, he reacted violently against the salesman. It almost turned nasty . Let us say that the ice-cold ice-cream expelled nearly hit the salesman's head. A fight was only just avoided.

When one still spoke patois

However surprising it can appear today, some of these day holiday-makers met on the Place des Cars sometimes spoke a dialect difficul to understand for Trouvillais. Often, it was necessary to make them repeat what they wished. The "hussards de la République" had not eradicated our ancestral dialect, still so very alive in our beautiful Normandy.

The expansion of Pompon

Full expansion for Glaces Pompon in these years. Certain days in summer one counted up to 17 employees, with selling points in the following places on Trouville and Deauville: - Place des Cars, 2; La Poissonnerie, 1; Le Pont, 1; Les Planches, Deauville, 4; in front of Rochereuil's, 1; Place du Golf, 1; Bénerville, 1; Passage du Tour of France to Pont-Lévêque, 3; Deauville race course, 2.

A right-of-use fairly common.

These places of sale had an indistinct origin. Probably created by custom since World War I, they acquire in the course of time a commercial value, then are introduced in the municipal rulings which officialize a practice which initially had no legal base. In this way, by a letter of May 16, 1947, Mr ROUSSEAU, Deputee Mayor, taking the advice of the Commission of the Baths, authorizes Robert DOYENNEL to occupy a place on the beach. License renewed in 1949 then confirmed by the visa of the Police on March 11 of the same year. On April 4, 1949, Mr ROUSSEAU had also authorized Mr Louis COBO to sell ice-creams in replacement of Mrs Louis BAUR, on the beach at the end of Rue Hoche and at Deauville's bus station. On May 12, 1951, these two places were sold by Mr COBO to Robert DOYENNEL. Right-of-use, one of the constituent elements of Law, but also constituent of patrimonial values.

The mystery of the oak car

Robert DOYENNEL (who had been called Raymond since his childhood), had bought the business from his sister Suzanne in 1939. She, as has already been mentioned, had acquired if from Manuel ORTIZ. Hard worker, Raymond begins to restore several "wooden" cars, purchases delivery tricycles with pedals, then a power-driven Juery delivery tricycle. But the queen of cars, the one that holiday-makers photograph, is the famous "oak car", a real object of art sculpted in one piece, and dressed in heavy columns of twined brass. It had been acquired by Manuel and Fernand ORTIZ in 1919 with DIEGO. The real origin was never able to be determined.

The first floats in iron

In 1950, he buys his first float in iron and with tyres. (Until then, all ice-cream floats were wooden, equipped with stretchers allowing to push them). One will call it the "new float". In 1951, he buys a second iron float equipped with it's own light and a battery. A float which has style. It was still equipped with stretchers but could be also towed by a motorcar. This last acquisition marks a change because one is no longer behind the cart to serve, but one climbs inside through a small door, into a place fitted for the salesman. From this place one looks down on the customers. These two prestigious floats are attributed to the saleswomen who hold the best places in Deauville where, 40 years later, the last one was still in service in the care of Andrée RUFIN, niece of Raymond DOYENNEL and Manuel ORTIZ. This float, thousands of tourists photographed it. From Vladivostok to the Cap of Good Hope one is certain to find photos of it.

The reckless team

At the time, all ice-cream carts are still pushed by hand. The DOYENNELs do not know caravan-type coupling, moreover no one has a car. So, every day, it is like a parade going to and fro at the beginning and the end of the day through Trouville-Deauville where one can see people in white jackets pushing these ice-cream carts with huge copper-coloured or silver-coned lids. The furthest selling points are covered by ice carts with pedals. Sometimes the facetious employees, to the great displeasure of the boss, raced their carts or pushed them on two wheels, risking breaking the wheels or at least damaging them. This provided work for the company LUCAS, in charge of repairs. Once, this jolly troop roped up several carts and got them to be pulled by the motorised float. On the hill called Rue du Golf, it was a disaster. All that was left of one cart was some wood and metal debris ; and for its driver, cuts and bruises. Plus of course a tremendous shouting match with the boss. Luckily, the motorised float was intact, and so was its plucky driver, René MARIE.

The end of the small cardboard pots

Using the ice-cream cornet was another innovation. The simple cornet, and the "formidable", that is the cornet with two scoops on which, as a present for regular customers, one sometimes added a third. But the cornet introduced another change: it killed the boring counting of the small aluminium pots which one distributed daily for every selling point. This counting was the job reserved for children. It was not easy to count these hundreds of small pots. Whereas cornets were distributed by whole boxes of 250 pieces. Jobs lost to progress.... Cornets come to Glaces Pompon in 1949 or 1950. It was a first journey by train to Paris, by steam engine indeed, to meet, Impasse de la Roquette, near the then prison for women, now destroyed, a manufacturer of the leading cornets "La Bastille" made by the CATCIAPIS family. This Impasse de la Roquette where one could smell fresh cornets, has also disappeared, gobbled up by new buildings. However, by tradition, one used the no less famous cornets "La Basquaise ", made by the firm Gommez in Montreuil-sous-Bois.

The buzzing hive

In these years, from the Easter holidays onwards, the house in Impasse Florian de Kergolay in Deauville, is a buzzing hive. From 5 o'clock in the morning turbines begin churning. Then the mysterious alchemy begins which, from milk, fresh cream, eggs and concentrates of fruit, ends up in ice cream.

Partial revalations of a secret

In a turbine of steel iron containing 100 to 150 litres, churning in a tub filled with crushed ice pulled by an electric engine and a conveyor belt with pulleys, one poured a mixture of 50 to 70 litres of milk, eggs, cream and concentrates of fruit. (The idea of adding water would have been considered as sacrilege). By the effects of the centrifugal force, this mixture had at

natural tendency to rise and then freeze with the cold, staying at the top of the turbine which was churning at great speed. With a long wooden elm spatula made specially, the operator, using the leverage of the edge of the turbine, unstuck the mixture to knock it downwards. The smooth ice-cream so appreciated by the holiday-makers formed after 20 to 30 minutes. One emptied the contents of the turbine into steel "decanters"‚ containing 10 to 15 litres, then one began again with another flavour: vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, pistachio nut. The ice-cream should not be either too hard or too soft. Everything rested in the care and the know-how of the operator. (In fact, one said the commis). When the result was not right, there was a row with the boss.

Before electricity

Before the electric turbine, one used a Bernard gas engine. Too noisy, it was replaced in 1949 by an electric engine, the use of which in a very wet environment caused some safety problems. Before the gas engine, one simply made the ice in the hand, that is by turning a small turbine of 10 litres called "ice-cream maker" by means of a crank, activated by some grease. Certainly, the quantities made ‚were less important, but the principle was the same.

Salt to make ice-creams

It is well known that it was recommended to use important quantities of salt which one mixed with the crushed ice. Salt to make ice-cream ? Indeed, the crushed ice stemming from the industrial ice factory in Trouville produced a temperature of about minus 5 degrees centigrade. Mixing this crushed ice with salt knocked down the temperature to minus 15 degrees and to stabilise it for so several hours, even by warm time.

The end of an era

In autumn, 1952, for health reasons, Raymond DOYENNEL stops his activity and gives up his business to the same who had sold it to him : Suzanne and André LAURENT, that is his sister and his brother-in-law. The deal is done for a sum of 120.000 FF, including 100.000 FF for the material. Glaces Pompon did not go out of the family. In November, 1952, the DOYENNELs leave Deauville to settle down in the Orne, near Vimoutiers, where Esther DOYENNEL and Manuel ORTIZ had met and married in 1922. An era ends, another begins. But before we turn the page, let us quote the main employees who worked so hard between 1939 and 1952 for Glaces Pompon : Jean-Pierre GODFROY, Gilberte GODFROY, Andrée FEUILLET, Francis FEUILLET, Maurice GODFROY, Michel GODFROY, Auguste HERICHER, André HERICHER, Madeleine JULIEN, Jacques LESPERANCE, René MARIE, Jacky MARIE, Jacqueline SURVILLE, Roger SURVILLE, Michel SURVILLE, Jean TIBOULIC, Berthe MARAIS.

The crushed ice came from Trouville's ice factory, Route de Touques which, at the time, made in a industrial way "chunks" of ice delivered in rectangles of 120 cms x 20 x 20. With a hammer, one smashed these chunks so as to squash them into the 10 to 12 centimetres space between the wooden casket and the metallic ice-cream containers full of ice-cream. The deliveries of ice-chunks, in the 1940s, were done by a van that's originality was that it was electric. Already ...

The Laurent-Rufin period

Having become again owners of Glaces Pompon, Suzanne and André LAURENT, together with their daughters Andrée and Micheline and their sons-in-law Roger and Jacques, begin their first season at Easter 1953. They live in the house of the Impasse Florian de Kergolay in Deauville and are going to register the longest active period of Glaces Pompon in Deauville, that is 40 years. From 1953 till 1974, the parents own the business. In 1974, they give it to their daughter Andrée who will continue her activity until 1993. Meanwhile, at the instigation of Saint-Dizier's ORTIZ family, the fashion of the Eskimoes considerably developed. In Deauville, from 1956 , one will see appearing on ice-floats and ice-carts the famous abbreviation "MIKO" which will live alongside the brand "Glaces Pompon ". Impasse Florian de Kergolay, the family continues to make its own ice cream. The other ORTIZ family, through their Cabourg agent, supplies the MIKO Eskimoes.

A small dollop

Andrée RUFIN and her sister came across many children liking ice-cream. When, too small in front of the car, they raised themselves on tiptoe to ask, eyes full of envy : "a small dollop of vanilla please Madam ". They were 8 or 10 years old in 1953. Years passed; one summer they returned having got married, told their wives that since their childhood they came every day to buy their ice-cream from this same cart, from this same place. And to tell the many stories, like for example, the big tears which poured when, by clumsiness, the so desired, hardly enjoyed small dollop, fell in the sand...

Two generations

They became bank employees, directors of a computer department, long-courier pilots, journalists with Le Monde or with Ouest-France, Calvados producers. Leading their family, they took their children to the sea front to the ice-carts. Some became grandfathers and took their grandchildren. Time passed, wrinkles appeared. But it looks like the time has no grip on the floats and carts of Glaces Pompon. Certainly, times changed, competition considerably increased. The new technologies allowed the development of a multitude of selling points where the ice-cream is made automatically in small machines placed at the bakers, the grocers and other food stores. The freezer which has found its way into every home now allows sampling at home, at any time of the day and of the year, of the ice-cream bought in hypermarkets. One does not stop progress. This creates new habits, generates new consuming behaviour.

Andrée RUFIN decided that the 1993 season would be the last one. She took a well deserved retirement. All of a sudden, there was a big empty space on the beaches of Deauville...

As for the ORTIZ-MIKO group, late 1993 it was sold to UNILEVER and BSN for 1,9 billion FF (roughly 300 million euros). Its turnover was then 5,4 billion FF (about 850 million euros) and the group employed 6.000 people.