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Les Mureaux (Municipality, Yvelines, France)

Last modified: 2019-04-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Les Mureaux, two versions - Images by Arnaud Leroy and Olivier Touzeau, respectively, 30 September 2006


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Presentation of Les Mureaux

The municipality of Les Mureaux (32,575 inhabitants in 2016; 1,199 ha; municipal website) is located 40 km west of Paris, on the left (southern) bank of river Seine.

Les Mureaux is named for Lower Latin "Mureli", meaning "a wall" (in French, mur or muraille); pronounced "Muriaux" in old French, the name later evolved to Mureaux, first documented in 1138. The Gallo-Roman town of Mureli was both a river port similar to Lutetia (Paris) and a fortified town protecting the bridge over the Seine. In the Middle Ages, Les Mureaux depends on Meulan, the town located across the Seine. Countess Agnès de Montfort built a church and an hospital (maladrerie).
The early Capetian kings enjoyed staying in Les Mureaux in their manor of Beauséjour and castle of Mâcherus. In the 17th century, the local lord built a castle in the middle of the wood of Bécheville. The last lord of Les Mureaux abandoned his privileges on 4 August 1789 and the first meeting of the new Municipal Council took place in a house of the village in 1792. The castle of Bécheville was purchased by Count Pierre Daru (1767-1829), Napoléon's State Minister and Peer of France, in 1811. The writer Stendhal (1783-1842) spent a few months in the castle, which probably inspired him for his famous novel Le Rouge et le Noir. Napoléon Daru, Pierre's son, succeeded his father and rebuilt completely the castle in the Second Empire style.

Until the middle of the 19th century, Les Mureaux was a small wine-growers' village. In 1843, the inauguration of the railway Paris-Rouen initiated the industrialization of the town, whose population soon doubled. The first "tourists" from Paris discovered the village and yachting on the Seine. The introduction of grape downy mildew in Europe in the 1870s and harsh weather conditions caused the suppression of the vineyards before the 20th century. In the 1880s, a lock and a barrage were built, causing the boost of river transport. The famous Cercle de la Voile de Paris built his club-house in Les Mureaux in 1893. Les Mureaux was the place of the yachting competitions for the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

The first aircraft manufacturers set up in Les Mureaux in 1902. The Pélabon factory was built in 1912; the Astra CM, powered by a Renault engine, was tried in Les Mureaux. An airfield was built in 1933, with a stretch of smooth waters for hydroplanes; the Lindberghs "landed" there with their famous Lockheed Sirius hydroplane. The town was severely damaged during the Second World War by bombings aiming at the plane factories. In the 1950s, the highway to Paris, already planned in 1941, was opened, facilitating the transport of workers to the factories. The Noratlas plane was launched in 1952. Following the inauguration of the Renault factory in 1954, the village of Les Mureaux morphed into a big town with high-rise estates, and specialized in space technology and industry. The first French artificial satellite was launched in 1965 using a launcher built in Les Mureaux. The first Ariane launcher was also built in Les Mureaux in 1979. From 1992 to 2003, the town was re-urbanized and several high-rise estates were demolished.

Les Mureaux is the birth town of the tragic actress Madeleine Roch (1883-1930), specialized in Victor Hugo's characters. In 1914, she was invited to inaugurate the monument dedicated to Victor Hugo in Guernesey by the sculptor Jean Boucher. The very same sculptor made the bust of Madeleine Roch kept in the Comédie Française theater in Paris.

Ivan Sache, 30 September 2006


Flags of Les Mureaux

The flag of Les Mureaux, as reported by the municipal administration, is white with the municipal coat of arms in the center, "Azure a fortified wall or masoned sable in the open gate on an anchor of the second a pair of wings a base wavy in chief three blackberries argent slipped and leaved also of the second".
The arms are twice canting, with the wall (mur) and the blackberries (mûres). The wave represents river Seine, whereas the wings and the anchor recall the- industrial history of Les Mureaux.

The commonly seen flag of Les Mureaux, for instance at the town hall, is white with the municipal logo, "green like the several spaces [in French, parks and gardens are called espaces verts] that embelish our town, blue like the sky and the Seine, yellow like the strength of the sun and the radiance of our youth."
The motto Notre ville a du talent means "Our town is talented".

Arnaud Leroy, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 30 September 2006


Yacht clubs

Yacht Club de l'Île-de-France

[Flag of YCIF]         [Burgee of YCIF]

Flag and burgee of the YCIF - Images by Ivan Sache, 13 June 2010

At the end of the 19th century, yachting was initiated in France in the valley of the Seine. France has more than 5,000 kms of coasts, but at that time these coasts were very far from Paris. Open-air cafés and dance halls called guinguettes flourished on the banks of the Seine and of the Marne, attracting a wide clientele. People from the upper-middle classes from Paris mixed with factory workers, artists and hoodlums. Swimming, rowing and boating were popular activities. Small shipyards were established on the river banks, in which new kinds of sailboats were built. Rapidly, famous naval architects like Gustave Caillebotte (also known as an Impressionist painter, an art patron and a distinguished yachtman), Chevreux, Tellier and Texier, launched their new ship models on the Seine.
Several sailboat owners lived in Chatou, downstream of Paris, where they founded in 1902 the Club Nautique de Chatou (CNC). They built a clubhouse on the Impressionists' Island, a small island where the Impressionist painters and their friends met in the Fournaise Inn (Maison Fournaise, now a museum and still an inn). The architect Texier designed in 1899 a dinghy called Immuable (Immutable), based on the model of the American Lark. The Immutable was renamed to Monotype de Chatou (Chatou One-design sailboat), nicknamed la Punaise (the Bug) because of its flat shape. The members of the CNC were funny guys and received the nickname of Chatouillards, based on Chatou and chatouiller, to tickle.
The CNC nearly extincted after the First World War, but its nine remaining members were able to maintain and promote yachting activity. In the late 1920s, it appears that the site of Chatou was too small for the club, and it was decided to move downstream to Meulan, where the yachting races of the 1900 and 1924 Olympic Games had taken place. Thanks to the generosity of club member Armand Esdars, 4 ha of land were purchased and a new clubhouse was inaugurated in 1929. In 1930, the members of the CNC decided to find a new boat since the Monotype of Chatou had became obsolete. They bought a license for the Shark boat from the shipyard of Abo (Finland). The Shark was renamed to Aile (Wing).
On 18 June 1939, the CNC was renamed to Yacht Club de l'Île-de-France. The YCIF, unfortunately located close to the airfield of Les Muraux, was bombed on 3 June 1940 by the Germans, who mistook it for a seaplane base. In 1944, the Americans made the same mistake.
The clubhouse was reconstructed but the YCIF faced a big crisis in 1964. Following Éric Tabarly's victory in the Transat race, most yachtmen were attracted by sea racing and abandoned inland waters. In the 1980s, Pierre Bogrand, who had introduced the Optimist boat in France, decided to restore the last Aile boats kept by the YCIF and to build new ones.

The flag of the YCIF ( photo) is white with a red horizontal stripe in the middle and two blue vertical stripes; the red stripe is twice higher than the blue ones. This flag was designed for the then CNC by the fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879-1944). One of the early and most famous members of the CNC, Poiret organized "descents" (descentes) of the Seine, during which the ladies and supply sailed on his personal barges Amour (Love), Délices (Delights) and Orgues (Organs).
The burgee (photo) of the YCIF is a triangular version of the club's flag, in 1:2 proportions, and with the red and blue stripes equal in size.

Ivan Sache, 13 June 2010


Aile Class

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Flag of Aile Class - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 September 2010

Aile Class (IAC, website) is a yachting association based in Les Mureaux. Its goals are the preservation of the heritage of the "Aile" sailboats, the support to the building of new "Aile" and the organization of "Aile" regatta.

Designed by the Finnish architect Iarl Linblöm, the "Aile" bulb-keel was introduced to France in 1936 by YCIF as an alternative to the "Star". The boat was renamed to "Aile" as a tribute to the famous seawoman Virginie ériot (1890-1932, nicknamed "Madame de la Mer" by the Indian poet Tagore), whose boats were all named "Aile" (Aile I to Aile VI; Petite Aile I and Petite Aile II; and Ailée II, on board of which she passed away in Arcachon).
Some 70 "Aile" sailed in 1939, of which only 55 survived the Second World War. The "Aile" was rediscovered in the 1990s by "classic" yachtmen.

The Tinkerbell, the first modern "Aile", built by the ACCF shipyard, was inaugurated in 2006. Photos taken during the inauguration of the boat show the flag of the Aile Classe as white with the "Aile" emblem, made of a blue wing (in French, aile) placed over a red ring. The same emblem appears on the sails of the "Aile" boat.

Ivan Sache, 18 September 2010