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Roanne (Municipality, Loire, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-30 by ivan sache
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Ceremonial flag of Roanne - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 16 March 2021

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Presentation of Roanne

The municipality of Roanne (30,004 inhabitants in 2018; 1,610 ha) is located 80 km north of Saint-Étienne and 100 km north-west of Lyon.

Roanne was known to the Gallo-Romans as Rodumna. The town was at a strategic point, the head of navigation on the Loire, below its narrow gorges. Its importance declined with the collapse of long-distance trade after the fourth century.
In the twelfth century, the site passed to the count of Forez, under whose care it began to recover. An overland route led to Lyon and the Rhône, thus Roanne developed as a transshipping point between Paris and the Mediterranean in early modern France. The renewed navigation on the Loire encouraged the export of local products — wines, ceramics, textiles — and after 1785, coal from Saint-Étienne.
Roanne was one of the first towns served by railroad in 1833. The opening of the canal from Roanne to Digoin (1838) placed the town in the forefront of the French Industrial Revolution.
In 1917 the arsenal was established at Roanne, and from 1940 a new industry developed, producing rayon and other new fibers.

Olivier Touzeau, 16 March 2021

Ceremonial flag of Roanne

The ceremonial flag of Roanne (video) is the French national flag, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, "Per pale argent a fess gules and azure" and the words "Ville de Roanne" in golden letters.

The original arms of Roanne, "Azure a crescent argent" are featured in the armorial (La description des villes et villages de France) redacted in 1669 by Father Pierre de La Planche, priest and librarian at the Paris Oratoire.
[Herald Dick Magazine, 22 April 2012]

The Légion d'Honneur was subsequently added to the arms as a tribute to the heroic behavior of the town in March 1814.
After the seizure of Lyon and Saint-Étienne, the Austrian troops heading to Clermont-Ferrand attacked Roanne on 23 March 1814. They were repelled by the 40 defenders of the bridge over river Loire, who were equipped with cannons. Encouraged by this success, the national guards of Roanne attacked a unit of Hungarian dragoons stationed a few kilometers away in Saint-Symphorien-de-Lay, against the recommendation of mayor François Populle (1777-1846; mayor from 1808 to 1815); the guards, led by commandant Faure, a veteran of the Revolution wars, defeated the Hungarians in the early morning. Upset, the Austrian General Hardegg came the next morning to Roanne with 10,000 men and asked the mayor to deliver the partisans responsible of the attack, threatening to have the town looted. The courageous mayor answered that the partisans had already left the town, and that would the town be offered to looting for two hours, he would sound the tocsin for two hours, calling 20,000 armed farmers from the neighborhood to defend Roanne. Mostly interested in protecting the wooden bridge over the Loire, which the partisans had planned to destroy, Hardegg withdrew.
Heading to Elba island, Napoleon spent a night in Roanne, where he was related the heroic behavior of the town's inhabitants. He reportedly said "This town deserves the cross [of the Légion d'Honneur". However, the first French towns awarded with the Légion d'Honneur on 22 May 1815, during the Cent-Jours, were Chalon-sur-Saône, Tournus and Saint-Jean-de-Losne, all located in Burgundy. The Légion d'Honneur was awarded to Roanne only on 7 May 1864 by Napoleon III, upon request of Victor Fialin (1808-1872), Duke of Persigny and founder of the Société historique et archéologique de la Diana.
[Herald Dick Magazine, 22 April 2012]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 16 March 2021

Chorale Basket Roanne


Flag of Chorale Roanne - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 March 2019

The municipality of Roanne (35,507 inhabitants in 2013; 1,610 ha) is located 80 km north-west of Lyon and 80 km north of Saint-Étienne. A stronghold of hosiery manufacture and trade, Roanne has been famous since the 1950s for its basketball team, which often challenged teams with a much bigger budget and representing much bigger towns.

The basketball club of Roanne (website) is named for the choir (chorale) established in 1932 by Élie Vieux and other school teachers of the Mulsant borough of the town. There were very few professional choirs at the time, therefore the boy's chorale of Roanne soon get national fame. In 1936, after the boy's voice had changed, the choir was soon disbanded but transformed into a bicycle section. Not popular, the section was succeeded the next year by a basketball club named Groupe Sportif de la Chorale Mulsant. Henri Rhodamel, the club's founder, would chair it for the next 40 years.
The Chorale joined the National Division (First League) in 1953. On 28 February 1959, the club won the final of the French championship, defeating its local rival, ASVEL (Villeurbanne), 67-52. Roanne won a second national title in 2007, defeating Nancy (81-74) in the final played on 2 June, in spite of its modest budget (14th out of 18 clubs).

The emblematic player of the club, and namesake of its arena, is André Vacheresse (1927-2000), player from 1942 to 1962, manager from 1977 to 1978, and coach from 1978 to 1980. Vacheresse played 70 games with the French national team, winning three medals in the European Basketball Championship (1949: silver; 1951 and 1953, bronze).
Alain Gilles (1946-2014; aka Monsieur Basket; obituary, Le Midi Libre, 18 November 2014), also born in Roanne, played for the Chorale from 1962 to 1965. He then moved to ASVEL, where he would play until 1986, winning eight national titles. Gilles played 159 games with the French national team from 1962 to 1977.

The club's official flag (photo) is dark blue with the club's emblem in the center and two horizontal lighter blue stripes at top and bottom.


Flag of Roanne 37 - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 February 2016

The flag of Roanne 1937, the supporter's club of the Chorale, is horizontally divided blue-black-blue with a white fimbriation between the stripes (photo).

Ivan Sache, 23 March 2019