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Cordemais (Municipality, Loire-Atlantique, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-08 by ivan sache
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Flag of Cordemais - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 27 March 2021

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Presentation of Cordemais

The municipality of Cordemais (3,729 inhabitants in 2018; 3,715 ha; municipal website) is located halfway (40 km) of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, on the right (northern) bank of the estuary of river Loire.

Cordemais is sometimes identified with the Gallo-Roman river port of Corbilo (2nd century), without any evidence but its location in the lower valley of Loire. Mentioned for the first time in 1050 in the chartulary of the abbey of Redon, as Cordemes, Cordemais was most probably Cordius Mansius, a mansion ruled by a lord Cordius. A spurious etymology relates the name of the town to Latin Cor Maris, the Heart of the Sea, referring to its original location on a rocky peninsula surrounded by river Loire.
Whatever its etymology, Cordemais indeed thrived around a once very active river port. In the 11th century, the monks from Redon established in Cordemais the St. Nicholas priory and the port of the same name, required for the lucrative trade of salt. Nothing remains from this first port but its location, in the place known as Le Port, today located hundreds of meter away from the Loire. A second port was established in the second half of the 19th century in La Côte, on an arm of river Loire. Used by fishers and for the trade of grain, reeds and wood, the port of Cordemais was once very busy; increased in 1881, it soon silted up. The "new port" was established in 1923 in the middle of Nation Island; abandoned in the second half of the 20th century for safety reasons, it has been kept as a "relic port" of river Loire.
The present-day's port was established in the aftermath of the inauguration of the power station in 1970. Water thrown by the station would prevent silting up, which allowed the design of a new port, to be used by fishers and as a marina. The port was so successful that he had to be increased in 2008.

At the end of the Second World War, Cordemais was on the "frontline" between the French liberated territory and the Pocket of Saint-Nazaire, proclaimed on 11 June 1944 by Hitler as one of the pockets to be defended at any coast. In fall 1944, seven pockets were still hold be the Germans; Saint-Nazaire, due to the underwater base, was the most important of them.
The railway station of Cordemais, located in the no man's land between the pocket and liberated France, was the only passage between the two entities. From October 1944 to 26 April 1945, the Red Cross organized the evacuation of civilians from the pocket; some 200 inhabitants of Cordemais decided to stay in the village.
Germany capitulated on 7 May 1945, at 2:41. Not informed of the surrender, the German defenders of Cordemais refused the proposed cease-of-fire. On 8 May, at 13:30, three German officers met two American officers and another French in front of the Moisan house at Les Sables and signed the capitulation protocole on the "Capitulation Table" hastily built with planks offered by Francis Moisan. The official capitulation as proclaimed on 11 May at 10:00 in the Bouvron horse-track.
Kept at the Dobrée Museum in Nantes, the Capitulation Table was offered in July 1984 to the municipality of Cordemais by the General Council of Loire-Atlantique and is now shown in the Grand Blockhaus Museum in Batz-sur-Mer.

The first unit of the power station of Cordemais was inaugurated in December 1970 to fulfill the increasing demand in energy, which doubled every ten years. Three big stations (> 600 MW) were established in Porcheville (west of Paris, 1968), Le Havre (1969) and Cordemais (1970). The site of Cordemais was selected as located close to the demanding towns of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, close to the fuel refineries of Donges and Montoir-de-Bretagne, and close to the Loire, which would supply cooling water. The second and third units (700 MW) were inaugurated in late 1976 while the fourth and fifth units (600 MW), powered with coal, were inaugurated in December 1983 and October 1984, respectively.
Villa Cheminée (Chimney House), designed by Tatzu Nishi in the 1970s architectural style, was inaugurated on 10 June 2009 on the top of a 16-m high replica of a chimney of the power station.

Ivan Sache, 28 March 2021

Flag of Cordemais

The flag of Cordemais (photo, photo, photo) is white with the municipal logo.

The logo of Cordemais, design by the Graphic agency in partnership with the local schools, was inaugurated on 8 June 1990.
Green represents the countryside, the horse-track and the marshes that surround the town. Green represents the natural environment and leisure: fishing, horse races, sports, dance and music. Cordemais is green like relaxing.
Blue represents space and water that baths the port, with a flurry of small boats involved in glass eel fishing. Blue represents movement and dynamism. Cordemais is blue like living together.
Yellow is bright like the sun and the ideas that thrive in the business parks. Golden yellow represents the SMEs' success. Yellow is bright like children educated in the town's primary and secondary schools. Cordemais is yellow like energy produced locally and the inhabitants' own energy.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 28 March 2021