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Saint-Galmier (Municipality, Loire, France)

Last modified: 2020-01-21 by ivan sache
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Flag of Saint-Galmier, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 31 May 2019

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Presentation of Saint-Galmier

The municipality of Saint-Galmier (5,707 inhabitants in 2016; 1,947 ha; municipal website) is located 25 km north of Saint-Étienne and 25 km east of Montbrison.

Saint-Galmier was already a renown spa in the Roman times, then called Vicus Audiaticus; the town had several baths, which were used from the middle of the 2nd century to the 4th century.
In the Upper Middle Ages, Saint-Galmier was a chastelleny part of the County of Forez. The counts often visited the castle: Guido I (111), William the Bearded (1118), and Raynald, who chartered the village in 1265. Around 1280, the village spread out of the fortified area, which included the castle, the lord's manor, the cemetery and the parish church. The town developed as a place of trade, located at the junction of two main axes, connecting Velay to Lyonnais and Auvergne to Dauphiné, respectively. Several mills were built on the left bank of river Coise.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, Saint-Galmier was the residence of the Counts of Forez.
In 1360, the town, which had spread on the southern slope of the hill, was surrounded by a wall of 1,200 m in length and 7 m in height, defended by towers and gates. In the 17th century, the fortifications were revamped, round towers being substituted to the original square towers. The wall was progressively suppressed, leaving only the southern gate, once known as Hospital Gate, today Saint-Étienne Gate.
Joanna of Bourbon, the wife of Count Guido VII, often stayed in Saint-Galmier, where she gave birth to her sons. The count let build for her de Teillères manor, located on the other bank of the Coise, served by the two-arched Gavé bridge (1381). After Guido's death in 1382, Forez was incorporated into the Duchy of Bourbon by Louis II, whose wife Anne-Dauphine, daughter of Joanna of Forez and granddaughter of Joanna of Bourbon , was the heiress of Forez. Anne-Dauphine died in 1416, which ended the Gilded Age of Saint-Galmier.
In the aftermath of the incorporation of Bourbonnais to France in 1533, king Francis I, who allegedly visited the town on 22 May 1536, confirmed the town's privileges.

The name of the town is a tribute to Waldomar, a virtuous locksmith born in the town; ordained sub-deacon at the St. Just abbey in Lyon by Archbishop Tetricus, Waldomar died in 650. His name was subsequently altered to Baldomar and Galmier.
During the French evolution, the town was renamed to Fontfortville, for its fontaine forte (strong fountain).

The Saint-Galmier source of mineral water was already known in the 16th century as Fontfort. In 1778, Richard Martin de Laprade, member of the Academy of Sciences and Louis XIV's Ordinary Councillor, highlighted in a treatise the "aperitif, digestive and exhilarating virtues" of the water. In 1837, Auguste Saturnin Badoit, aged 36, was granted the concession of the Fontfort source. He industrialized the production, being the first seller of bottled water. Relying on advertising. Badoit developed a dense network of retailers (pharmacies, grocery stores, hotels), progressively increasing its coverage to Lyon, Paris and the south of France. To limit competition, Badoit purchased several sources and sold their water under his name. the founder died in 1858, being succeeded by his widow and his son; at the time, the family company marketed 1,5 Million bottles per year. Labels were substituted in 1874 to seals to identify the bottles, while a dedicated glass factory was established in1883 in Veauche.
With its healing properties recognized by the Academy of Medicine, the Badoit water was mostly sold in pharmacies until 1950. The initiation of sales in general stores boosted the production, which reached 37 million bottles in 1958.
Badoit was overtaken in 1965 by Évian SA, which increased the production to 57 million bottled per year. After the purchase of Évian by BSN - subsequently, Danone -, water was sold in PVC bottles, while glass bottles were dedicated to restaurants. In the 1980s, Badoit diversified its products, developing smaller bottles (33 cl;, including water flavored with mint or lemon) and reduced the size of the standard bottle from 1.25 l to 1 l. The company subsequently introduced a wide array of new formats (50 cl and 75 cl) and flavored water (lemon-lime, raspberry-green apple, mango-lemon...).
As of today, Badoit sells 300 million bottles per year, covering 13% of the French market of sparkling water and exporting to 110 countries. The naturally-sparkling water is harvested at a depth of 100m; its constant temperature is 16 C.

Ivan Sache, 31 May 2019

Flag of Saint-Galmier

The flag of Saint-Galmier (photo, photo, photo, photo) is white with the municipal logo.
The former flag of Saint-Galmier (photo), already in use in 1999, has the graphic part of the logo without the motto, "la ville qui pétille!" (the sparkling city). Different fonts have been in use.

The logo features the town's skyline. Atop the hill, the parish church was erected on the site of the former castle. The old keep was used as the bell tower until the revamping of the facade in 1899. Building from 1420 to 1471, the church was looted around 1570 during the Wars of Religion. The choir's stained-glass windows was designed by Alexandre Mauvernay (1810-1898), a friend and disciple of the famous painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Mauvernay established his workshop in Saint-Galmier in 1839, where he was assisted by his son, Barthélemy, who would succeed him. After Barthélemy's death in 1909, his sisters maintained the production until 1917.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 31 May 2019