Michel Izoird, from La Pointe Courte (Sète) was once an "odd-job" fisherman on the Etang de Thau, but like everyone else, he had to go into retirement.
He had been a jouster as well, but without going to excess, as he always favoured his role as a shield collector. He also picked up the jousters who fell in the water, and that left him little time for jousting personally. He was the logistical support during the tournaments as once a jouster fell in the water, it was necessary to replace him quickly to balance the weight of the barques. Michel was well-regarded in this field.
As a jouster, from time to time, Izoird caused an upset by throwing several heavyweights into the water while he was only of medium weight. Therefore, yes he jousted, but there isn't a lot of information about it.
Following an illness, although he completely stopped jousting, he didn't stop being a shield collector. Then, unable to put out the effort, he looked for another way to fill his now free time.
In 2007/2008, inspired by the painter Pierre François, a painter from Sète, he started to paint. And naturally, he turned towards what he loved the most, the jousts.
"The clothes pins (which are the basis of his works) are always what I look at as an aspect of a man. When in doubt, I started with half the figurine." Then he started to progressively make whole forms and "since I invent, I create my people. I am having fun."
For the 2016 Saint Louis tournament, Izoird is preparing some small shields that can be pinned to one's chest. The 33 shields that he has made this year he has offered to the female directors of the event. He himself wore two of them (one red and one blue) during the Saint Louis luncheon that took place at the Pointe-Courte.
"When I have some free time, I work on this or that part of my figurines and all that is done by hand, with the cutter and the scraper, but no other machine."
For next year, he is even envisaging the construction of two tournament barques, the red and the blue, complete with jousters buttressed and ready for combat.
Izoird presented his last creation, one with 4 traditional musicians of which one is a woman drummer, to the young female tambour player during this same meal. Michel Izoird doesn't sell anything: he only offers.
Izoird likes to work below his home in front of his cabin at the left of the Pointe-Courte but sometimes he hears a pigeon cooing and he knows that he is expected at home for a hand of cards. He can never resist this call and so he goes home to play two or three hands. Then he goes back to making his figurines.
Ensconced in front of his workbench, he is already preparing for the next season.
Jean-Marc Roger / Janet L. Clark