Last modified: 2011-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: ain | versonnex | cross: saltire (yellow) | scallops: 4 (yellow) | shells: 4 (yellow) |
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Flag of Versonnex - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 20 April 2006
The municipality of Versonnex (2,068 inhabitants in 2008; 589 ha) is located in the Pays de Gex, a small region limited by the border with Switzerland, the Jura mountains and river Rhône in the south.
The Pays de Gex, once a tiny principality depending on Savoy, was incorporated in 1601 to the Kingdom of France.
The French philosopher and writer Voltaire (1694-1778) settled in the manor of Les Délices, near Geneva in 1755. He had there less problems with censorship than in France but some his plays were not really enjoyed by the Genevans. In 1758, he bought the domain of Ferney, in France but on the border with Switzerland, so that he could move from one country to the other very easily. Voltaire increased the village of Ferney and founded there an hospital, a school and clock-making workshop. For 18 years, he stayed there with a brilliant court. The village was later renmaed Ferney-Voltaire.
Geographically, Pays de Gex is part of the basin of Geneva and completely isolated from the rest of France. Accordingly, most of the trade was made with Geneva and not France. Voltaire obtained from King Louis XVI a franchise on tobacco and salt imported from Switzerland to the Pays de Gex. In 1815, the franchise was extended to all Swiss products. The 1815 treaties were superseded in 1919 by the Treaties of Versailles, in which the new tax system was not explicitely stated. France unilaterally suppressed the franchise, which was reestablished in 1932 by the International Court of The Hague upon Swiss request. The zone franche system is granted only to the locals but is applicable to all foreign products.
Due to its neighborhood with Switzerland and the dramatic increase in the cost of living in Switzerland compared to France, the population of Versonnex increased from 159 inhabitants in 1968 to slightly more than 2,000 now. A loop of the CERN (European Nuclear Research Center) particle accelerator is located in the territory of Versonnex.
Ivan Sache, 20 April 2006
The flag of Versonnex, as hoisted on the town hall, is blue, quartered by a yellow saltire with a yellow scallop in each quarter.
The flag is a banner of the municipal coat of arms, D'azur au sautoir d'or cantonné de quatre coquilles du même ("Azure a saltire or cantonned with four scallops of the same").
ND & Ivan Sache, 20 April 2006