Saint-Agnan-en-Vercors

Plaque commémorative

Marie-Jeanne Bordat's first husband died in a shipwreck at the beginning of the Great War. The owner of a small merry-go-round, she worked country fairs. At 22, she married again, to Jules Bordat, who was gassed in the war. As his health required a stay in mountain air, in 1934 they decided to settle at the Col de Rousset. They bought an old train-car from the local train authorities, had rubber tires installed, and dragged it up to the resort at Col de Rousset, and turned it into a bar. They later expanded into a smalle chalet, where they could take in inn guests. At the same time, Jules Bordat collected medicinal plants that they sold to an... Read more

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Address : Station du Col de Rousset, sur le muret de l'hôtel, en face de l'aire de jeux , 26420 Saint-Agnan-en-Vercors
GPS Coordinates : 44.839644 , 5.405728
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Themes and resources
Themes
  • Commemorative plaque
  • Maquis
  • Civil resistance
  • Persecution
  • Drome
Complete description of site

Marie-Jeanne Bordat's first husband died in a shipwreck at the beginning of the Great War. The owner of a small merry-go-round, she worked country fairs. At 22, she married again, to Jules Bordat, who was gassed in the war. As his health required a stay in mountain air, in 1934 they decided to settle at the Col de Rousset. They bought an old train-car from the local train authorities, had rubber tires installed, and dragged it up to the resort at Col de Rousset, and turned it into a bar. They later expanded into a smalle chalet, where they could take in inn guests. At the same time, Jules Bordat collected medicinal plants that they sold to an herbalist in Romans.

The war broke out out in 1939 and the maquis moved into the Vercors starting in 1943. Young men arrived in waves, especially after the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. In a matter of a few days, where there had been 400 resistants, there were nearly 4000. It was hard to get food enough for the maquis. Food was found in neighboring farms and more rarely in enemy reserves or local factories.

Marie-Jeanne Bordat became "Granny Bordat" for the maquis, feeding them and putting them up for days, sometimes for months, before they went off to the hillls. As she knew the local farmers, she went round the farms to collect milk, butter and animals. But as local production was limited, she went further afield as well, and was able to make pot-au-feu with potatoes and sometimes bought a lamb that she then carried on her back up to the resort. It is said that her dog Loulette acted as the liaison agent between her and the maquis chiefs. Maybe that's part of the legend!

In the winter of 1943, at the request of the local chiefs, she went to Romans to find twenty pairs of shoes for recruits who had only sandals. Robert Pissère, the quarter-master of the FTPF (Franc-Tireurs et Partisans - one of several resistance organizations) around Die, and who would on July 14, 1944 be appointe subPrefect in Die, lent her his car to take them back to the resort. Near Romeyer, the Gestapo pulled the car over, but in a quick search, failed to find the shoes, hidden in a wicker basket full of laundry that she claimed she was taking to a sick old lady. Another misadventure further on forced her to conceal the shoes in a manure heap in a stable, where the maquis came to get them later.

She also acted as a sentinel, always wary of strangers so as to avoid any intrusions or enemies sniffing out the maquis. She always denied knowing anything about them.

On April 16, 1944, five busloads of Milices and Military Reserve Groups from Lyon burned the chalet and the railroad car. They tortured Marie-Jeanne Bordat to find out where the maquis were, and after among other things dragging her along the road decided to take her to Vassieux where the held her for three weeks. Granny Bordat and her husband were presented to a court that sentenced them to death. They were finally pardoned thanks to the intervention of Abbey Gagnol and Doctor Guérin, but their torments continued. They were beaten and thrown into some bushes while the pharmacist Doucin, the postman Ezingeard and the farmer Paul Mally were shot. Granny Bordat stayed a couple of weeks with Mme Eynard in Vassieux afterwards.

Despite these setbacks, the Bordats continued to provide for the maquis to the extent of their abilities. On July 21, 1944, the house where she was staying in Vassieux was burned with many others. With a bullet wound in the shin, it took her five days to get to Saint-Julien-en-Quint. 

In 1958, she was awarded the Military Medal as well as other decorations at various times: the Croix de Guerre with one palm-leaf, citation of the order of the nation, the Cross of Volunteer Resistance fighter and the Combat card.

Her house was  rebuilt after the war, with a few rooms added. She took up again her role as hostess of a tourist stop in a growing resort and ran a small post-card and souvenir stand till she was over 80. Jules Bordat passed away in March 1953, Marie-Jeanne in 1976.

Source: Musée de la résistance en ligne

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