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Loire-Atlantique (Department, France)

Last modified: 2005-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: loire-atlantique | pays de la loire | brittany | general council |
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[CG Loire-Atlantique]

Flag of the General Council of Loire-Atlantique - Image by Jaume Ollé

See also:

Administrative data

Code: 44
Region: Pays de la Loire
Traditional provinces: Bretagne (traditional Breton province of Nantes, traditional districts of Pays de Retz and Pays de Brière)
Bordering departments: Ille-et-Vilaine, Maine-et-Loire, Morbihan, Vendée

Area: 6,815 km2
Population (1995): 1,089,400 inhabitants

Préfecture: Nantes
Sous-préfectures: Ancenis, Châteaubriand, Saint-Nazaire
Subdivisions: 4 arrondissements, 59 cantons, 221 communes.

The department is named after the river Loire (1,020 km) and the Atlantic Ocean.
Until 3 September 1957, the department was named Loire-Inférieure (Lower-Loire); it was then renamed Loire-Atlantique (Atlantic-Loire) to avoid the negative connotations of Inférieure (lower or inferior).

Use of the Breton flag by the General Council

The General Council of Loire-Atlantique has a specific flag, but the newly elected President of the General Council, Patrick Mareschal, has decided to hoist the traditional flag of Brittany on the building of the General Council.

The hoisting of the flag is a political statement. Since the creation of the French regions by the French State in 1941, the department of Loire-Atlantique is incorporated to the region of Pays de la Loire, whereas most of the department historically belongs to Brittany. There is a fairly strong movement asking for the "reunification" of Brittany and the incorporation of Loire-Atlantique to the region Brittany, which would be more or less equivalent to the historical Duchy of Brittany, whose capital city was Nantes, with the Duke's castle, and not Rennes, the current capital city of the region Brittany.
The main association lobbying for the "reunification" is called Bretagne Réunie (formerly CUAB, Comité pour l'Unité Administrative de la Bretagne), and its first president was Patrick Mareschal. The lobbyists claim that France refuses the "reunification" because it could be a first step towards independence of Brittany. It is clear that the region Pays de la Loire would not accept easily to cede one department and its regional capital city.

The wish of "reunification" is expressed in some flags, such as some variants of the municipal flag of Nantes with the Breton black cross, the Brigade Loire supporters' flag with a black stripe recalling Brittany and flags with the black cross used by cultural associations in Nantes.
The supporters of "reunification" would also change the logotype-flag of the Regional Council of Brittany by adding a fifth coloured stripe on the map to symbolize the fifth department, Loire-Atlantique. The CUAB released a car sticker showing such a flag. The Breton nationalists call the four-stripe flag the four-suppository flag.

Sources: (by courtesy of Pascal Vagnat)

Ivan Sache, 18 May 2004