Last modified: 2005-02-19 by ivan sache
Keywords: yvelines | elancourt | fleurs-de-lys: 2 (yellow) | discs: 3 (white) | chevron (yellow) | cross (red) | order of the temple |
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by Arnaud Leroy
The city of Elancourt (22,635 inhabitants) is a part of the ville nouvelle of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, located near Versailles, south-west of Paris. The mayor of Elancourt recently announced that Elancourt would leave the ville nouvelle as soon as possible, which caused a big fuss, petitions etc.. The mayor is a locally prominent member of the governing party UMP, which officially supports the villes nouvelles and other kinds of municipal associations. The mayor already contributed to the fame of Elancourt in 1998, when he sued for "trademark infringement" the owner of an Internet domain name including the word Elancourt. After a two year battle, the Court of Cassation definitively nonsuited the plaintiff. The alleged infringer was a member of the municipal opposition.
The oldest known form of the name Elancourt is Aglini Curtis (IXth century), which probably meant Aglin's enclosed farm. The name of the place evolved as Ainlecurtis (1003), Herencurtem (1144), Erancourt (1206), Elsencourt (1249), Elencuria (1250), Ellencourt (1472), and Elancourt (fixed in 1757).
The most important event in the histroy of Elancourt was the foundation of the commanderie de la Villedieu by Gui II de Chevreuse in 1180. A commanderie was a benefice allocated to certain military knight orders, and by extension the place corresponding to the benefice, led by a commandeur. Gui donated the commanderie de la Villedieu to the Knights Templars. La Villedieu was indeed a fortified estate located on the St. James' pilgrimage road, where pilgrims could spend the night in safety. La Villedieu increased in size and wealth due to several donations by local lords in the XIIth-XVth centuries. After the eradication of the Templars by Philippe le Bel, the commanderie was ceded to the Hospitalers of Louviers-Vaumion. The estate was trashed during the Hundred Years' War and progressively abandoned. In 1474, it was ceded to the St. John of Latran's Hospital in Paris and transformed into a farm. In the XIXth century, the farm became a distillery. The remaining buildings of la Villedieu were restored in 1971-1978 and are used today as a cultural center for art exhibitions, concerts, workshops etc..
The park France Miniature is of more recent creation in Elancourt. The France Miniature shows more than 150 of the most famous French monuments reduced on a 1/30 scale. The models are realized with great care and reproduce the monuments in great details. They are placed on a giant "map" of France, which is decorated with miniturized trees and crossed by miniaturized trains. Access to the park goes through the Alps (9 m high) and the center of the map is materialized by a 10 m high Eiffel tower. The models have acquired a patina with age, which makes them strikingly true to the real ones.
Ivan Sache, 10 April 2004
The municipal flag of Elancourt is horizontally divided blue-green with the municipal arms placed near the flag hoist.
Arnaud Leroy, 10 April 2004
Since Elancourt has no known historical coat of arms, the municipality launched a contest in 1973. There were five proposals, all shown on the municipal website.
The awarded proposal can be blazoned as:
Vert a chevron or an escutcheon party argent and sable a cross coupee gules chief azure three bezants 2+1 flanked by two fleur-de-lys or.
Green stands for the countryside; the yellow chevron stands for the roads; the escutcheon stands for the Templars; the three bezants on blue was the coat of arms of Saint-Germain-des-Prés abbey in Paris, the bezants representing the Byzantine currency used during the Crusades; the two fleur-de-lys represent the kingdom and the royal abbey of Saint-Denis.
Ivan Sache, 10 April 2004