Please consider the following passage from Le Comte de Monte-Christo, first volume, chapter V, around line 52:

Déjà couraient autour de la table les saucissons d’Arles à la chair brune et au fumet accentué, les langoustes à la cuirasse éblouissante, les prayres à la coquille rosée, les oursins, qui semblent des châtaignes entourées de leur enveloppe piquante, les clovisses, qui ont la prétention de remplacer avec supériorité, pour les gourmets du Midi, les huîtres du Nord ; enfin tous ces hors-d’œuvre délicats que la vague roule sur sa rive sablonneuse, et que les pêcheurs reconnaissants désignent sous le nom générique de fruits de mer.

Some kind of seafood is called "prayres" here (in bold). None of my dictionaries explains this word, and google takes it for English. What does this mean exactly? Can you translate the name of this animal in scientific/modern language? I am pretty sure this term of A. Dumas is outdated, or maybe an expression typically from Marseille in the 19th century and used by seamen.

1 Answer 1


"Prayre" may be an old spelling form (and not used anymore) for "Praire". You can see what it looks like on the French wikipedia article here: fr.wikipedia

The related English article refers to this as "Venus verrucosa":the warty venus. Ref: en.wikipedia

  • Thanks, Kevin. If you check the etymology of "praire" in the wiktionnaire, it says that this word comes indeed from "prêtre" in Occitan. I can associate the latter with Marseille. Feb 14, 2019 at 13:19

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