The medieval French chasse-marée merchants originally catered to the demand for fresh fish in inland markets by carrying fish in pairs of baskets on pack ponies, as far as possible, overnight. However, the distance coverable before the fish deteriorated was limited.
Later, where the quality of the road permitted, the range might be extended by the use of charrettes (carts). When designed for this trade, with a minimum of weight put into their construction and provision for harnessing the four horses, these vehicles took the name of chasse-marée. As speed was essential, they were normally hauled by two pairs of horses rather than the single horse which is normal for a cart. The vehicle took the form of two wheels, of a diameter large enough to minimize the slowing effect of bumps in the road. On their axle was mounted an open rectangular frame within which were slung the baskets holding the fish, packed in seaweed. More baskets were stacked above. The teams of usually fairly small horses were worked hard and changed at posting stations in the same way as those of mail coaches.
The coast supplying Paris by road was originally, that which was nearest to its market, around Le Tréport and Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. At its most developed, it extended from Fécamp to Calais including such places as Dieppe, Boulogne-sur-Mer and Étaples.
Some horse lovers have been attracted to the idea of driving a version of the chasse-marée carts, as a recreation.
- The picture at bottom left on this web page shows some waiting for the marée Archived November 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. at a Norman fish quay in the early twentieth century. The top picture here shows one if full flight Archived November 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. when it could sustain 15 kilometres per hour from one posting station to the next.
- Compare the routes for mail coaches and chasse-marées in the bottom two sections of this web page. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- R&B Presse – equestrianism press agency. Archived February 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.