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L'Île-d'Olonne (Municipality, Vendée, France)

Last modified: 2020-01-25 by ivan sache
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Flags of L'Île-d'Olonne - Images by Jean-Emmanuel Brethomé and Olivier Touzeau, respectively, 4 December 2019

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Presentation of L'Île-d'Olonne

The municipality of L'Île-d'Olonne (2,699 inhabitants in 2016; 1,958 ha; municipal website) is located on the Atlantic coast, 10 km north of Les Sables-d'Olonne and just north of Olonne-sur-Mer.

L'Île-d'Olonne was originally established close to salterns ("salt marshes", therefore the name of "marshes' crystal" given to salt).
Salt work is recalled by the Salorge, a big building erected in the center of the village at the end of the First World War by a retailer from La Roche-sur-Yon to store salt. Requisitioned during the Second World War by the Germans and used as a horse stable, the building was owned after the liberation by the local salt cooperative to store salt in winter time. Several salterns were transformed into fish ponds filled with brackish water.

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

Flags of L'Île-d'Olonne

The flag of L'Île-d'Olonne (photo, photo, photo) is blue with a white decentered cross. The canton is charged with a white sailboat surmounted dexter and sinister by two white triangles.

naugurated on 8 July 2019, the flag was designed by Jean-Emmanuel Brethomé, a resident of L'Île-d'Olonne (presentation).
The flag was inspired by the arms of the town. The cross is a simplification of the grid representing the salterns in base of the arms. Blue represents the salterns while white represents salt. The ship, represented on the arms with a green hull and a red sail, was made white for the sake of homogeneity. The two white triangles represent salt heaps.
The new flag is used together with an older, yellow flag charged with the municipal emblem.

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

Saltern flags

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Saltern flags in L'Île-d'Olonne - Images by Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

Three salterns are still active in L'Île-d'Olonne. Marais Rivolia has been exploited since 1744 by the Raffin family (nine generations). Another two abandoned salterns, Salorge de la Vertonne - Marais aux Fèves and Marais des Avocettes were acquired in the early 21st century by the Communauté de Communes de l'Auzance et Vertonne, restored and conceded to two young salt workers.

A flag was traditionally hoisted on a 12-m high mast erected close to the Raffin salorge (a wooden hut used to store salt). This flag signaled the water management operations performed at the Gachère lock, which allows communication between the sea and the salterns.
A red flag indicates that the saltern "drinks".
A blue-white-red flag indicated that the saltern "dries up" under the sun.
A blue-white-blue flag indicates the monthly change of water content of the saltern.

Abandoned for decades, the flag system was re-established on 12 June 2014 by the Syndicate of the Gachère salterns, which groups the 600 owners of the salterns.
[Ouest-France, 14 June 2014; Patrimoine Vendéen]

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019