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Loire (Department, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-30 by ivan sache
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Flag of Loire - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 16 April 2019

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Administrative data

Code: 42
Region: Auvergne-Rhô-Alpes (Rhô-Alpes until 2014)
Traditional province: Lyonnais
Bordering departments: Allier, Ardèche, Isère, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Saône-et-Loire

Area: 4,781 km2
Population (2016): 761,997 inhabitants

Préfecture: Saint-Étienne
Sous-préfectures: Montbrison, Roanne
Subdivisions: 3 arrondissements, 21 cantons, 326 municipalities.

The department is named after river Loire (1,020 km).
The department was created in 1793, when the department of Rhône-et-Loire was divided into Rhône and Loire. Originally established at Feurs, its capital was transferred to Montbrison in 1795 and eventually to Saint-Étienne in 1855.

Ivan Sache, 12 April 2019

Flag of Loire

The services of the Departmental Council stated on 15 April 2019 that "the Department of Loire uses very few flags for its communication. The only site where there is one is the Saint-Galmier racetrack (photo)."
The flag is in proportions 11:15, blue with the Council's logo in white.

Unveiled on 2 April 2015, the logo "brings values to the territory while highlighting the dynamic of a department looking to the future".
The blue and green colors, and the drawing as well, allude to the department's topography. The rounded letters and curves of the word "Loire" evoke the hilly landscape composed by Mount Pilat [1,431 m], the Mounts of Forez [1,634 m], and the Mounts of Lyonnais [946 m]. They also evoke the waving of river Loire, the territory's throughfare. The typography, specially designed for the logo, confers to the department of Loire a unique character and a proper identity.
While blue represents river Loire, it also highlights seriousness, stability, and rigor, which are values conveyed by the department of Loire. Green is related to the natural environment that characterizes the territory. Green is also a reference to the preferred color of the inhabitants of the department, who are great fans of their football team*.
The sobriety of the typography and the use of small letters for the name "Loire" facilitate reading, whatever its arrangement. Its refined style, without unnecessary extra, provides durability to the logo, which is expected to last for years.
[Press release, 2 April 2015]

*The fame of the green football team is so big that its name needs not be explicitly named in the press release. The "Greens" are AS Saint-Étienne (ASSE), the club of the department's capital that reached the final of the Champions' League, being defeated (0-1) on 2 May 1976 by Bayern Munich at Hampden Park (Glasgow).
The 1975-1976 European epos of ASSE, in spite of its unfortunate, and, some say, unfair end, still gives goosebumps to anyone who went through it it. In the 1970s, the successes of the French national team and of Stade de Reims in the late 1950s were old history, not expected to repeat in a near future. The emergence of the Saint-Étienne team, based in a declining industrial town, and mostly composed of players trained in the club, fostered unprecedented popular fervor, probably not reproduced since then - keeping in mind that football, still a very popular sport, attracted a very limited TV coverage.
Coached by Robert "The Sphinx" Herbin, the team that played the final was composed of emblematic players, now in the informal Hall of Fame of French football: Ivan Ćurković (goalkeeper), Gérard Janvion, Pierre Repellini, Osvaldo Piazza and Christian Lopez (defenders), Dominique Bathenay, Patrick Revelli, Jean-Michel Larqué (captain) and Jacques Santini (midfielders), Hervé Revelli and Christian Sarramagna (wingers), and Dominique "The Green Angel" Rocheteau (winger, substitute). Christian Synaeghel, a main actor of epos, missed the final because of an injury. ASSE challenged Bayern Munich and his legends, among which Sepp Maier, "Kaiser" Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Gerd "Bomber" Müller, and Uli Hoeneß.
Everyone remembers the Bathenay and Santini's shots that hit the "square goalposts"; much less, however, remember the name of the German scorer, Franz "Bull" Roth, who was not the most charismatic and famous player of the team.
[Le Figaro, 9 May 2016]

The club has been using its emblematic green (jerseys) and white (trunks) color since the very beginning of the club, who was established in 1919 as the Amicale des employés de la société Casino (Friendly club of the employees of the Casino company).
Casino was founded by Geoffroy Guichard (1867-1940), the "caldron"'s namesake, a local grocer who opened his first shop in Saint-Étienne in 1898 in the former lyric casino of the town, which had been closed by the municipality for "moral indecency".
[Le Figaro, 13 January 2015]
Group Casino, involved in mass-retail, remained under the lead of the Guichard family until 2003, when Antoine Guichard (1926-2013), Geoffroy's grandson, had to cede the presidency of the board of directors to Jean-Claude Naouri.
Pierre Guichard (1906-1988), Geoffroy's son, presided the ASSE in 1927-1943, 1950-1952, and 1959-1961. When retiring, he appointed his successor, Roger "The Man with the Pipe" Rocher (1920-1997), the emblematic president of the club during its Gilded Age and fall (1961-1982).

Mickey 3D, a music band from Saint-Étienne, dedicated a song to Johnny Rep, the emblematic Dutch right winger who wore 131 times the green jersey (1979-1983; 44 goals), with Michel Platini. Dedicated to the "small green angels", the song mentions the "Caldron", the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium. At the end of the first live performance of the song in Saint-Étienne (video), the public, mostly young and born years after the green epos, spontaneously chanted the famous "Allez les verts" supporters' song. Although ASSE quickly declined and never reached the top again, the memory of the green epos is still alive.
A longer version of "Allez les Verts !" (original record was released short before the final, by the singer Monty (Jacques Bulostin; b. 1943). A long-time supporter of the Greens probably not motivated by money, Monty could not have expected his song, with extremely basic but so sincere, written in a hurry, musical score and lyrics, to become a memorable summer hit. On 20 April 2013, Monty was invited for a rehearsal (video) of "Allez les Verts !" in the Stade de France, where ASSE won the final of the FA Cup against Stade Rennais (1-0), this being the first national title claimed by the club since 1981.
More than four decades later, the supporters of the "Greens, considered as "France's most English public", have not forgotten the song (video).

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 20 April 2019

Flag of the former General Council of Loire


Flag of the former Genral Council of Loire - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 16 April 2019

The Saint-Galmier racetrack flew in April 2014 a white flag with the logo of the former General Council ()photo). The logo was made obsolete by the name change of both the local assembly (Conseil géneral to Conseil départemental) and the region (Rhône-Alpes to Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes).

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 20 April 2019

Banner of arms of Loire


Banner of arms of Loire - Image by Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 30 September 2009

The flags representing the departments of the former Region Rhône-Alpes were hoisted, together with the Region's flag, in front of the seat of the Regional Council at Charbonnières-les-Bains, near Lyon (photo, 12 February 2006).
The department of Loire is represented by a red flag with a yellow dolphin that is a banner of the arms assigned to Loire by Jacques Meurgey de Tupigny & Robert Louis in Marques symboliques des départements français, as "Gules a dolphin or". These arms belonged to the second House of the Counts of Forez, founded in 1173 by Guy I, a relative of the Dauphin of Viennois.
Forez, the ancient pagus forensis, named for the town of Feurs (and not for its forests), is now split between the departments of Loire and Haute-Loire.

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 30 September 2009