Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
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Flag of Le Chesnay, two variants - Images by Ivan Sache, 4 November 2009 - coat of arms by Didier Dudal
The municipality of Le Chesnay (30,227 inhabitants on 1 January 2009; 424 ha), closely bordering Versailles (some streets have one side in Le Chesnay and the other in Versailles) is located 15 km west of Paris.
Le Chesnay was once "a place planted with oaks". The old names of the
village refer to the oak either by its Latin name, quercus (Quercetum), or by its Gaul name, cassanus (Canoilum,
1122; Cheneum, Chesnetum, 13th century). In modern French, a place
planted with oaks is a chênaie, from chêne, the oak; the Gaul root is also dominating the Latin root in French toponymy.
In the 12th century, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés abbey, located in the middle of the pastures (prés) then surrounding Paris, granted a part of its domain in Le Chesnay to the Canons of the Saint-Benoît abbey, also located in Paris, provided they would build a church there. Nearly suppressed by the Hundred Years' War and epidemics, the village, inhabited by a few lumberjacks and farmers leaving in clearings, was very remotely ran by the Saint-Germain-des-Prés abbey.
In the middle of the 17th century, the building of the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV caused the reestablishment of the parish and the increase of the village. Pierre Le Pelletier des Touches, Councillor of the King, and Charles Maignard, lord of Bernières, successively owned the Castle of Le Chesnay. Other nobles built manors close to the park of Versailles; the Castle of Parc Aubert is said to have been designed by Mansart and Le Nôtre, Louis XIV's architect and landscape designer, respectively. Louis XIV eventually purchased the domain of Le Chesnay, which was settled by officers, guards, seamen, gardeners and servants employed in Versailles.
On 1 July 1815, Le Chesnay and the neighbouring municipality of
Rocquencourt were the place of the last battle fought by Napoléon's Grande Armée.
In 1870, the village had 600 inhabitants, mostly farmers and cattle- breeders living in the lower part of the municipality ("plain"). In 1910, the upper part of the municipality ("plateau") developed around the new St. Anthony church. Urbanization and industrialization started after the First World War, with the population of the town climbing from 4,000 in 1920 to 9,000 in 1953. The lower and upper villages were eventually merged into a single, urbanized entity.
On 4 November 1969, the shopping centre of Parly 2, the first of that size (150 shops) in France, was inaugurated in Le Chesnay. The name of the centre is meaningless; the municipality of Paris opposed to the proposed name of Paris 2, which was promptly changed to Parly 2, maybe inspired by the neighbouring town of Marly-le-Roi. Today stretching over 90,000 sq. m, the 250 shops of Parly 2 are visited by 20 millions each year. The centre is surrounded by the Le Chesnay-Trianon condominium, the biggest in Europe, with 18,000 inhabitants. Once owned by Norwich Union, Parly 2 is owned today by Unibail-Rodamco, the number one of the commercial real-estate in Europe, also the owner of most shopping centres located near Paris.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 4 November 2009
The flag of Le Chesnay is green with the municipal coat of arms in the
middle. The flag was widely used outdoors until the 1990s, often flown
together with the flag of the German twinned town of Heppenheim
The flag must still be used in rare occasions, since it appears on a photo, in a non-specified context, in the municipal gazette Évènements, No. 204, January 2009.
The special issue of Évènements dedicated to the new municipal library / theater, June 2009, shows a photo of the flag flying in front of the former Fenwick factory, that is before 2000. On this flag, the coat of arms is surmonted by a blue cartouche bearing the name of the municipality in white capital letters.
The municipal coat of arms of Le Chesnay is De gueules au chène arraché d'or chargé au cœur d'un écusson d'azur et la bande d'argent chargée de trois quintefeuilles de gueules ("Gules an oak eradicated or bearing an escutcheon azure a bend argent three cinquefoils gules").
The oak is canting for the name of the municipality. The escutcheon represents the arms of the Maignard de Bernières family.
According to François-Alexandre Aubert de La Chesnaye des Bois' Dictionnaire de la noblesse, contenant les généalogies, l'histoire et la chronologie des familles nobles de France, Volume 9 (1775), the Maignard de Bernières family stems back to Richard Maignard, Governor of Vernon (Normandy) in 1447. His son, Guillaume Maignard (d. 1514), Councillor at the Parliament of Rouen, was the first lord of Bernières in the family. Five generations later, Charles III (1612-1662), the owner of the Castle of Le Chesnay, was Councillor at the Parliament of Paris and State Councillor. His son Louis-Charles (d. 1710) was erected Marquis of Bernières in 1678.
Ivan Sache, 4 November 2009