Last modified: 2005-04-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: yvelines | velizy-villacoublay | star (yellow) | letter: v (white) | quintefoils: 2 (yellow) | wheat | war cross |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Vélizy-Villacoubly (20,000 inhabitants) is a municipality of 20,000 inhabitants located south-west of Paris. The area of the municipality is 909 hectares, from which 313 belongs to the national forest of Meudon.
In the Middle Ages, the domains of Vélizy, Villacoublay and l'Ursine belonged to the Hôtel Dieu (General Hospital) of Paris. In 1695, King Louis XIV bought l'Ursine and Villacoublay to increase his hunting ground. Vélizy was incorporated into the royal hunting ground by Louis XVI.
In the XIXth century, Vélizy was trashed and burned two times by the Prussians, in 1815 - and then nicknamed Little Moscow - and in 1870-1871. At that time, Vélizy and the hamlet of Villacoublay had a population of 270. Vélizy-Villacoublay was one of the biggest grain-producing municipalities of the department (then called Seine-et-Oise), the production being divided among three big estates.
On 25 August 1885, the dirigeable La France landed in a field near Villacoublay. This event was the onset of aeronautics in Vélizy-Villacoublay. Louis Bréguet (1880-1955), a French aircraft manufacturer from a Swiss clockmakers' family, built his hangars in Villacoublay. Léon (1885-1918) and Robert (1886-1968) Morane founded with Saulnier the Morane-Saulnier company, which built its private airfield in Villacoublay in 1913. The company Nieuport, founded by Edouard Nieuport (1875-1911) and manufacturer of the biplane Nieuport 11 used during the First World War by the French Air Force, shared after the war another airfield with Bréguet. In 1911, the Air Force established its center for flight trials (centre d'essais en vol) in Villacoublay.
In the 1930s, the urbanization plan around Paris should have made of Vélizy-Villacoublay a modern city with 100,000 inhabitants. However, the Air Force and the aircraft manufacturers refused to leave and the plan was never realized. Private housing estates developed in the boroughs of le Clos and Vélizy-le-Bas (Lower Vélizy), a borough separated from the rest of the municipality by the forest of Meudon. A 'garden-estate' was built near the airfield for Bréguet's workers.
The Air Force base was occupied by the Germans from 1940 to 1944, and bombed six times by the allied forces. On 24 August 1943, bombs targeted to the Bréguet hangars fell on the boroughs of the Clos and the Village, killing 43 and injuring 106.
After the Second World War, Vélizy-Villacoublay was declared a 'disaster city' (ville sinistrée) and urban development zone (zone à urbaniser en priorité, ZUP) in 1958. In the 1960s, Robert Wagner, Mayor of the city from 1953 to 1988, proposed a new urbanization plan to the Minister of Construction. The urbanist Robert Auzelle and the architect Alain Gillot were appointed project managers of the Grand Ensemble, which was built from 1962 to 1967. Two new boroughs, Mozart and Louvois, were built from scratch on the western and eastern sides of the municipality, respectively. A business park was later opened in the eastern side around the shopping mail of Vélizy 2 - one of those huge regional shopping mails (centre commercial régional) built around Paris.
Nowadays, the municipality of Vélizy-Villacoublay offers more than 30,000 jobs and the shopping mail and its satellites have around 20 millions visitors per year.
The Airforce Base 107 (Base a&eeacute;rienne; Sous-Lieutenant Dorme) houses the staff headquarters of the north-eastern Air region. The regional headquarters of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS, the riot police) for Paris and Ile-de-France are also stationed in Vélizy-Villacoublay.
Official planes usually take off from and land in Villacoublay, as well as most aircrafts involved in the air parade of 14 July. The airfield is located in a dense urban zone and is therefore falry dangerous but plans to move it away have been abandoned until now.
Sources: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 26 September 2003
The municipal flag of Vélizy-Villacoublay is diagonally divided (per bend) blue-yellow, with the municipal coat of arms placed in the middle of the flag. The flag is hoisted in front of the city hall and in other places of the municipality.
Ivan Sache, 26 September 2003
The municipal coat of arms was officially adopted by the Municipal Council on 24 May 1957. According to the minutes of this Council session:
The Mayor presented the illuminated model of the arms and gave the following heraldic description:
D'azur à deux vols d'argent en forme de V posés l'un au-dessus de l'autre accompagnée en chef d'une étoile et en pointe de deux quintefeuilles ; entre chacun des vols de deux épis de blés tigés et feuillés posés l'un en bande, l'autre en banc, le tout d'or.
L'ecu timbré de la couronne aérienne d'or et d'argent des villes "bases aériennes et aéroports". L'écu soutenu par deux gerbes de roseaux d'or fruités de sable hissant (sic) de quatre burelles ondées d'argent posées en pointe. La croix de guerre 1939-1945, étoile d'argent, appendue en pointe de l'écu brochant sur les burelles ondées.
The symbolic of the arms is explained as follows:
The main charge of the arms is made of two stylized V-shaped vols recalling the initials of Vélizy and Villacoublay and the military function of the Villacoublay airfield. The star surmonting the vols comes from the pilot's emblem. It symbolizes both guiding (Betlehem star) and orientation (North star).
The two wheat spikes [indeed stems] symbolize the agricultural lands of the municipality. The quintefoil, as the symbol of the forest flora, represents the forest of Vélizy [indeed called the forest of Meudon].
The shield is surmonted by the air crown granted to cities hosting airforce bases and airports. The reeds growing out of water represents the two ponds of l'Ursine and des Ecrevisses [Crawfishes].
The War Cross 1939-1945, with silver star was awarded to Vélizy-Villacoubaly by Decree # 16 on 27 May 1952.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 26 September 2003