Last modified: 2017-03-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Ramatuelle - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 20 February 2017
The municipality of Ramatuelle (2,111 inhabitants in 2014; 3,560 ha; municipal website) is mostly renowned for the Pampelonne beach, "one of the most famous beaches on the Earth". Of 4.5 km in length and 27 ha in area, the sandy beach welcomes in summertime between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors by day. While the first vacation houses were built close to the beach in 1927, commercial exploitation of the area started after the Second World War with the establishment of camping parks. In the early 1950s, the first huts were erected, illegally, on the seashore; one-year, renewable concessions were granted by the State to regularize the situation. The scenic environment attracted several artists; movies were shot here, while a part of the beach was transformed into an open-air sculpture museum.
Granted the concession of the beach for the first time in 1974, the municipality of Ramatuelle preserved it from urbanization by setting a strict management scheme. Parking places were built in the hinterland, access to the beach being permitted only to pedestrians on paths drawn through the vineyards. Pastures and cane groves were maintained, grazed in spring by sheep. The increased popularity of the beach prompted the municipality to adopt in 2003 a new management scheme, aimed at exploiting the beach in a sustainable manner. On 13 November 2012, the State Council registered the Pampelonne beach and its surroundings as a "remarkable natural area".
Wine-growing was initiated in Ramatuelle by Greek colonists, c. 600 BC. The present-day's vineyards (750 ha) are part of the "Côtes de Provence" designation, officially recognized in 1946 and granted in 1877 the status of protected designation of origin. The vineyards are exploited by five private domains and the cooperative cellar Les Celliers des Vignerons de Ramatuelle, inaugurated on 22 April 1957.
Château Camarat, built between 1906 and 1912 by British owners, was purchased in 1926 by Léon Volterra (1888-1949), the successful manager of famous music halls and theatres in Paris (Olympia, 1916-1918; Casino de Paris, 1917-1929; Théâtre de Paris, 1918-1948; Eden, 1921-1923; Théâtre Marigny, 1925-1946; Lido, 1936-1946) and renamed Château Volterra. Elected Mayor of the neighbouring town of Saint-Tropez in 1935, Léon Volterra transferred to his wife, Simone Volterra (1898-1989), the management of the vineyard and of the theatres. After the divorce of the couple in 1946, Simone Volterra kept the Château, where she retired in 1963 and lived until her death. Abandoned for the next ten years, the domain was purchased in 1990 by a Canadian group, which restore the Château, replanted the vineyard (6 ha) and modernized the cellar.
The Volterra organized in Ramatuelle luxurious festivals; among their familiar guests were the actor Raimu (1883-1943), the singer Joséphine Baker (1906-1975), and the writers Colette (1873-1954) and Jean Cocteau (1889-1963).
The actor Gérard Philipe (1922-1959), famous for his performances at the Avignon Festival, used to spend summer vacation in Ramatuelle, in the family house of his wife, Anne Philipe (1917-1990). Gérard and Anne Philipe are buried in the cemetery of Ramatuelle,
Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 27 February 2017
The flag of Ramatuelle (photo, photo, Town Hall) is white with the municipal coat of arms. "COMMUNE / DE / RAMATUELLE" is written in black capital letters beneath the shield.
The arms of Ramatuelle are "Argent a tree eradicated vert surmounted by a star of the same".
According to Louis de Bresc (Armorial des communes de Provence [bjs94]), the arms, registered in the Armorial Général (I, 192; II, 1248) are derived from the arms of the Audibert lineage, lords of Ramatuelle from 1689 to the French Revolution.
On the Armorial Général, however, the star is represented gules, not vert (image).
Dictionnaire de la noblesse (Vol. 1, 1790) gives the arms of the Audibert de Ramatuelle as "Argent an oak interlaced vert fructed of the same a bordure serrated gules a chief of the same a heart or surrounded by two stars of he same."
The Audibert family was ennobled in 1529, as "d'Audibert"; in 1705, Le Bret, King's Intendent of Provence, confirmed the title and increased it as "d'Audibert de Ramatuelle".
François d'Audibert de Ramatuelle was the 9th lord of Ramatuelle. He was Councillor at the Parliament of Aix and, subsequently, Secretary General of the Banque de France in Paris.
His brother, Thomas d'Audibert de Ramatuelle (1750-1794), aka l'Abbé d'Audibert de Ramatuelle, was a noted botanist. Born in Aix-en-Provence in the family town house, located, by a mere coincidence, close to the birth place of another famous naturalist, Michel Adanson (1727-1806), Thomas d'Audibert studied theology in Paris, where he served, as a parish priest, at the St. Sulpice church. He soon became a familiar of the most famous botanists of the time, such as Thouin, Lamarck, and the Jussieu family. Enlisted in La Pérouse's expedition, he preferred to go back to Aix, where he was appointed canon. Thomas d'Audibert set there a tree nursery in order to establish a method of identification of trees and shrubs at any growth stage. The French Revolution prevented the completion of this project; refusing the civil constitution of the church, he fled in 1971 to Paris, where he expected to hid more easily than in Aix. Arrested and jailed, he died on 26 June 1794, after having fallen down from the jail's roof during an attempt of escape.
Most of Thomas d'Audibert's original papers, records and collections were lost or scattered in different places. His work is known by his correspondence with other botanists of the time, such as Louis Gérard, author of Flora Galloprovincialis, and secondary citations. His only published work is the first description and naming of the garden chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum x grandiflorum Ramat., which had been imported from China to Marseilles in 1789 by Captain Blancard (Description de la camomille à grandes fleurs, Journal d'histoire naturelle, 2: 234-256 (1792)).
[H. Boyer de Fonscolombe (1819) Notice historique sur l'Abbé de Ramatuelle. Mémoires de la Société des amis des sciences, des lettres, de l'agriculture et des arts, établie à Aix, département des Bouches-du-Rhâne 1:118-123; H. Duval & A. Reynier (1911) Vie et travaux de l'Abbé d'Audibert de Ramatuelle, botaniste provençal (1750-1794). Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France, 58:3, 312-319]
Thomas' younger brother, Joseph d'Audibert de Ramatuelle (1759-1840), was a naval officer. He served on the César, involved in the battle of Grenada, fought on 6 July 1779 during the War of American Independence. Appointed Captain in 1793 but soon struck off the register, he emigrated and published in 1802 Cours élémentaire de tactique navale, dedicated to Bonaparte. In 1806, he enrolled in Joseph Bonaparte's navy in Naples. Reincorporated in 1814 in the French Navy, he retired in 1824 with the rank of Rear Admiral.
[Histoire de Guerre]
Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 27 February 2017