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Loire-Atlantique (Department, France)

Last modified: 2022-03-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: loire-atlantique |
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Flag of Loire-Atlantique - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 14 April 2019

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Administrative data

Code: 44
Region: Pays de la Loire
Traditional province: Bretagne (traditional Breton Province of Nantes, traditional Districts of Pays de Retz and Pays de Brière)
Bordering departments: Ille-et-Vilaine, Maine-et-Loire, Morbihan, Vendée

Area: 6,815 km2
Population (2016): 1,380,852 inhabitants

Préfecture: Nantes
Sous-préfectures: Châteaubriant, Saint-Nazaire
Subdivisions: 3 arrondissements, 31 cantons, 208 municipalities.

The department is named after river Loire (1,020 km) and the Atlantic Ocean.
Formerly known as Loire-Inférieure (Lower Loire), the department was renamed to Loire-Atlantique on 3 September 1957.

Ivan Sache, 14 April 2019

Flag of Loire-Atlantique

The flag used by the Departmental Council (photo), is white with the logo, which was modified in 2012. The only word kept on the flag are “Loire atlantique”; this allowed the flag not to be changed in 2015 when Regional Councils were renamed to Deaprtmental Councils.

Olivier Touzeau, 14 April 2019

Flag of the former General Council


Flag of the former General Council, 2005-2015 - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 14 April 2019

In 2005, the political majority in the General Council changed and the General Council subsequently adopted a new logo and flag.
The flag (photo, photo) hoisted over the building of the General Council at Nantes, was green with the Council's logo
The logo was made of a blue panel charged with "la" in green stylized cursive letters, "LOIRE / ATLANTIQUE" in white letters and "Département solidaire" in green letters. A smaller, green panel placed below is charged with "Conseil général" in white letters.
"la", made of the initials of the department, already appeared on the former logo of the General Council. Blue symbolizes the Atlantic Ocean and the rivers, while green symbolizes the natural environment.


Former flag of the General Council - Image by Ivan Sache, 30 September 2009

The former flag of the General Council was white with the Counil's former logo, made of a green square charged with "la" in blue letters, flanked by "LOIRE / ATLANTIQUE" (top) and "CONSEIL GÉNÉRAL" (bottom) in blue letters.

Ivan Sache, 30 September 2009

Use of the Breton flag by the General Council

The newly elected President of the General Council, Patrick Mareschal, has decided to hoist the traditional flag of Brittany on the building of the General Council [Ouest France, 30 April 2004].

The hoisting of the flag is a political statement. Since the creation of the French regions by the French State in 1941, the department of Loire-Atlantique is incorporated to the region of Pays de la Loire, whereas most of the department historically belongs to Brittany. There is a fairly strong movement asking for the "reunification" of Brittany and the incorporation of Loire-Atlantique to the region Brittany, which would be more or less equivalent to the historical Duchy of Brittany, whose capital was Nantes, with the Duke's castle, and not Rennes, the current capital of the region Brittany.
The main association lobbying for the "reunification" is called Bretagne Réunie (formerly CUAB, Comité pour l'Unité Administrative de la Bretagne); its first president was Patrick Mareschal. The lobbyists claim that France refuses the "reunification" because it could be a first step towards independence of Brittany. It is clear that the region Pays de la Loire would not easily accept to cede one department and its regional capital.

The wish of "reunification" is expressed in some flags, such as some variants of the municipal flag of Nantes with the Breton black cross, the Brigade Loire supporters' flag with a black stripe recalling Brittany and flags with the black cross used by cultural associations in Nantes.
The supporters of "reunification" would also change the logotype-flag of the Regional Council of Brittany by adding a fifth coloured stripe on the map to symbolize the fifth department, Loire-Atlantique. The CUAB released a car sticker showing such a flag. The Breton nationalists call the four-stripe flag the four-suppository flag.

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 18 May 2004



Flag of Brière - Image by Raphaël Vinet, 10 November 2002

Brière (presentation), aka Grande Brière (19,000 ha), is the second largest marshy area in France after the Camargue.
The marsh is a mosaic of channels (curées), shallow ponds (piardes and copis), reeds, meadows liable to flooding, and hillocks. The inhabitants of the region (Briérons) lived mostly from hunting, fishing and cattle-breeding; they built traditional reed-roofed houses (some 3,000 of them are still standing, which is the highest concentration for such houses in France) and extracted peat, the only source of fuel available to them.
With time, several Briérons were hired as workers in the industries of the region of Saint-Nazaire. Cattle-breeding declined, while reeds were no longer cut. Several ponds were dried up, while hunting and fishing became leisure activities.
The Regional Natural Park of Brière (website) was established on 16 October 1970.

The marsh of Grande Brière Mottière (6,850 ha) has been jointly owned by the inhabitants of 21 municipalities since 1461, when collective property was granted by the Duke of Brittany Francis II. Today, each municipality appoints a representative at the commission solely in charge of the management of the marsh.

The flag of Brière (photo, photo, photo) is quartered by a black cross outlined in yellow, 1. and 4. A green field charged with a yellow duck, 2. and 3. A white field charged with eight black ermine spots (3 + 2 + 3).
The flag is based on a fresco made in the 1940s by René-Yves Creston to decorate the Triskell pub in Rennes. The painter represented 13 Breton flags, each hold by a character dressed in the matching local costume. Creston portrayed his relatives and represented himself as the holder of the Brière flag, which appears to have been created by the painter.
Long forgotten, the design was re-discovered in 2001 by Jean-Michel Mahé, a founding member of the CREDIB (Centre de Recherche et Diffusion de l'Identité Bretonne), an association founded in 2001 in Saint-Nazaire. The flag was modernized, using the model of ermine spots designed by Raphaël Vinet. The CREDIB ordered in 2002 the manufacturing of 100 copies of the flag.
[D. Kervella & M. Bodlore-Penlaez, Guide des drapeaux bretons et celtes, 2008; Communication by Hubert Chémereau, President of CREBID, 2004]

The noted painter and ethnologist René-Yves Creston (in Breton, Reun Kreston; 1898-1964; biography), born in Saint-Nazaire, was one of the founders of the Breton cultural movement Ar Seiz Breur (The Seven Brothers), which he led from 1923 to 1947. He was one of the main designers of the Breton pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition held in 1937, a milestone in the international recognition of the Breton cultural identity. Ar Seiz Breur is also credited the renewal of the Breton architecture and design; André Batillat (1901-1965), another of the historical "seven brothers", combined the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and of C. R. Macintosh's Glasgow School.
Creston, hired by the Commandant Charcot as his official painter, illustrated the 1933 campaign of the Pourquoi-Pas ? in Greenland. Appointed in 1936 official painter of the Navy, he chaired the Arctic Department of the Musée de l'Homme. In August 1940, Creston joined the anti-German Resistance network established in Musée de l'Homme; he set up a clandestine group in Saint-Nazaire, which contributed to the preparation of the British raid on Saint-Nazaire (28 March 1942) known as "Chariot Operation". Deemed disloyal to the French State, Creston was excluded from the register of the painters of the Navy by the Vichy regime.

Ivan Sache, 25 June 2013