The Granville Bay Whelk, which is from the Cotentin area of Normandy, was registered as a protected geographic indication (PGI) by the European Commission earlier this year, becoming the first new French agricultural product registered in 2019.
The whelk is a gastropod mollusk fished in the Granville Bay, to the west of the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy. This coastal zone stretches from Goury Point in the north to Champeux Point in the south, and includes an area on the ground for landing the whelks in 45 coastal communities.
The PGI Granville Bay Whelk is a mollusk of the species Buccinum undatum that particularly likes cold seas. It finds the perfect conditions for its development in the Granville Bay, particularly through the lack of muddy, stilt-filled depths, which contributes to the value of the product.
The whelk is fished in traps, a technique called gentle because it allows for collecting the mollusks in a stress-free way, as they are pulled out of the sea while still alive and intact. Once on board, they are sorted, rinsed and stored in crates called “grêles.” In order to preserve resources, the smallest whelks are thrown directly back into the sea to continue growing.
This mollusk is characterized by its tender texture and it salty taste, with flavors of the sea and hazelnut. Its shell is often white-ish, but can vary from greenish white to dark brown due to the presence of micro-algae on its surface.