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Vertou (Municipality, Loire-Atlantique, France)

Last modified: 2005-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: loire-atlantique | vertou | tree: yew | tree (green) | ermines: 2 (black) | ermines: 15 (black) | fleurs-de-lis: 2 (blue) | quadrille sevre-et-maine | grapes: 2 (green) |
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Presentation of Vertou

The city of Vertou is located in the south-western outskirts of Nantes.
The origin of the name of the city is probably Celtic, as Vertaw, or Latin, as Vertavum. The inhabitants of Vertou are called Vertaviens; the name of the city was often written Vrezou in the XVIIIth century.

Excavations made in the village of la Blandinnière have yielded a tomb with human bones and pottery fragments; other Prehistoric artefacts (arrowheads, bowls) have been found elsewhere in Vertou.
Around 600, the Bishop of Nantes asked St. Martin to found two abbeys in Vertou; the first one was located behind the today's presbytery and its XVIIIth century gate still stands, whereas the second one was located behind St. Peter's Cross. A legend says that Martin planted his pilgrim's staff on the site of today's cure; the staff took root, branched out and grew up as a big yew for centuries. The first parish church was built by St. Martin in 576; the building of a new, bigger church started in 840 but was never completed because of the Norsemen's invasions; a third church was consecrated in 945 and destroyed on 17 September 1793. The current church was built between 1875 and 1887.
From 1470 to 1650, the monks undertook large-scale work. They built the Chaussée aux Moines, a dam regulating the flow of the river Sèvre and allowing navigation, which dramatically contributed to the development of Vertou. In the XVIIth century, the regulation system was completed with locks; the main lock, still in use, was built by Pierre Desprez in 1755. Trade on the Sèvre was important in the XIXth century: in 1830, 1,639 ships carrying 13,082 tons of goods crossed the Chaussée aux Moines.

The writer François Rabelais (c. 1494-1553) visited the region of Vertou; he stayed in La Haye Fouassière, where he enjoyed the local fouaces (wheat pancakes baked in the ashes), and in Vertou, where he enjoyed the local green salads, blood sausage and wines. The white wine produced in Vertou belongs to Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 15 May 2005

Flags of Vertou seen in Morges (Switzerland)

[Flag of Vertou]     [Flag of Vertou]

Knatterfahne (left) and square flag (right) of Vertou - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 15 May 2005

Since 1957, Vertou is twinned with the Swiss city of Morges, where another excellent white wine is produced. The flag of Vertou has been seen in Morges by Nicolas Deprez, along with the municipal flag of Morges and the flag of the canton of Vaud. The three flags are in the Knatterfahne format, that is with a square part showing the arms of the entity and a vertical, bicolor tail (white and red for Morges, white and green for Vertou and Vaud). The flags were also seen in square format, following the Swiss use for municipal flags.

The coat of arms of Vertou was adopted by the Municipality in 1957 and registered as follows by the Commission of Civic Heraldry of the Department of Loire-Atlantique in 1972:

Chapitre Saint Martin : d'argent à un if arraché de sinople, chargé sur le fût d'une fleur de lys d'or, accosté à dextre d'une fleur de lys d'azur et d'une moucheture d'hermine et de sable posées l'une sur l'autre, et à senestre d'une moucheture d'hermine de sable et d'une fleur de lys d'azur, aussi l'une sur l'autre.

GASO gives a similar blason:

D'argent à l'if arraché de sinople ..., accompagné en chef à dextre et en pointe à senestre de deux fleurs de lys d'azur, en chef à senestre et en pointe à dextre de deux mouchetures d'hermine de sable.

In English (Timms):
Argent on the trunk of a yew tree eradicated vert a fleur de lys or dexter an ermine spot sable ensinged by a fleur de lis azure and sinister a fleur de lis also azure ensigned by an ermine sport also sable.

The yew recalls the legendary foundation of Vertou by St. Martin. For the Celts, the yew was a symbol of eternity and was often planted near cemetaries; several villages in Normandy, Brittany... still have a big yew near the cemetary, which indicates a very ancient Celtic origin. When it superseded paganism, Christianism reused the most popular symbols of the ancient religions.

Nicolas Deprez & Ivan Sache, 15 May 2005

Quadrille Sèvre-et-Maine

[Quadrille Sevre-et-Maine]

Flag of Quadrille Sèvre-et-Maine - Image by Raphaël Vinet, 9 November 2002

The Quadrille Sèvre-et-Maine is the Celtic Circle of the city of Vertou. A Celtic Circle is a cultural association promoting the Breton culture. The Vertou Circle was founded in 1973 as the Cercle Celtique Saint-Martin and later renamed Quadrille Sèvre-et-Maine, the Sèvre nantaise and the Maine being the two rivers which water Vertou. The Quadrille has about 80 members and is affiliated to the Kendalc'h, an association of Celtic Circles. The Kendalc'h organizes every year a contest with different categories. The Quadrille is currently ranked in the fourth category.

The Quadrille is specialized in the traditional dances of the Pays de Nantes and Upper (Eastern) Brittany. The dancers wear the traditional costume and headdress of Vertou. The Quadrille also takes part to street parades, during which the dancers and musiciens march behind the flag of the Quadrille.

This flag is based on the historical flag of the Duchy of Brittany, the Kroaz-Du (black cross on white). The canton is yellow, with in the middle the Vertou yew, said to have been planted by St. Martin. The yew is flanked by two green grapes, recalling the Vertou vineyard and two diagonal green waves recalling the rivers Sèvre and Maine. The three other cantons are charged with five ermine spots, which recall the ancient naval flags of Nantes and the 'five' Breton departments.

The flag was designed by Raphaël Vinet, who is also the regular standard bearer of the Quadrille.

Source: Quadrille website.

Ivan Sache, 9 November 2002