Every year since 2003; Longjumeau has imported a little but of Quebec near Paris during the Quebec Festival which celebrates its 8th edition in October. Singers Robert Charlebois, Feleix Leclerc or Gilles Vigneault have all been guests of this annual meeting between the Beaufiful Province and its francophone cousins which is not limited to song. Every year, the focus is also placed on a painter from Quebec while visitors are treated to Quebec culinary specialities like maple syrup, maple cakes, teas, cakes and locally brewed beers.
A pioneering town in terms of sustainable development – its mayor is a former Environment minister -, Longjumeau has hosted some 20 beehives since last year and makes it own honey.
At first only half of those had been scheduled as part of the teaching programme in a pedagogic farm for schoolchildren but ten more were finally installed in several parts of town, including three on the Town Hall roof.
Bees are municipal civil servants of sorts since the honey they produce is offered to couples who marry in town. A pot of honey is also offered to each newly born child.
Bees in urban areas are nothing new: there have been hives on the top of the Paris Opera for many years. But the presence of bees in town is a token of biodiversity as the insects are a part of the trees and plants reproduction process.
The town of former Environment minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet was bound to be charmed by bicycles and by the Tour de France. The race has a long history in Essonne since its very first start, in 1903, took part in the department, in Montgeron. Since then, 12 Essonne towns have been visited by the Tour.
French under-23 time-trial champion Romain Lemarchand, the son of Francois Lemarchand, was born in Longjumeau.
|12th century||first mention of the Nogemel locality, probably a staging post on the road to Paris.|
|1250||Construction of the St Martin church.|
|1288||Construction of the Tempar Bridge, one of the oldest in the Parisian region.|
|1568||The Longjumeau peace treaty put and end to the second War of Religions.|
|1771||By marriage, the prince of Monaco became lord of Longjumeau. Prince Albert is still Duke of Chilly-Longjumeau today.|
|1836||Creation of the opéra-comique the Coachman of Longjumeau by Adolphe Adam.|
|1911||The exiled Lenin settled in Longjumeau.|
Prefecture : Evry
Essonne’s location is one of its main assets. South of Paris, it is urban and dynamic in the North, peaceful and rural in the South and its identity stems from the old counties of Corbeil, Etampes and Dourdan, which was the fief of the first kings of France.
The department changed dramatically in the 1960s when it became the southern suburbia of Paris. New towns like Evry emerged while big housing estates were built in Massy or Grigny. Essonne became a department in its own right in 1964 when the huge Seine et Oise jurisdiction was split into six departments. Evry grew regularly to become the real capital of the south of Paris. The Essonne population rose constantly to reach 1.2 million today.
Footballers Thierry Henry and Patrice Evra – two former France captains – former 4X100 metres relay world record holders Daniel Sangouma and Jean-Charles Trouabal, swimmer Laurent Neuville all hail from Les Ulis, a young, sporting town created a little more than 30 years ago. Some of France’s best known rappers also come from Les Ulis, which is the archetype of French suburbia – la banlieue.
The town was conceived by architect Robert Camelot, a disciple of Le Corbusier and includes six estates considered as “sensitive”. First called Bures-Orsay, it finally took the name of the fief on which it was built.
The activity complex of Courtabeuf, the largest industrial zone in Europe, is home to 1,000 companies and employs 24,500 persons.
Since 1977, a town centre has taken shape around the Boris Vian cultural centre, the Francois Mitterrand library, a post office and shops.
The town which hosts the famous Polytrechnique college was the start of the last stage of the 1994 Tour de France, won by Italian Fabio Baldato.
Twelve kilometres south of Paris, Massy, whose lords were linked to the Monaco royal family, developed since the early 20th century from a village of 1,400 people into a 40,000-strong city on the outskirts of the capital.
Essonne’s third largest city and its main economic centre, Massy went through the typical urban evolution of the 20th century, from the small workers semi-detached to the huge housing estates of the 60s. Massy’s history is linked to its railway. During WW2, its station was in a strategic position and it was bombed several times, destroying parts of the city. The post-war period was marked by a housing crisis which led to the construction of large estates like the Grand-Ensemble, which doubled the population. As the population rose, new equipment was created: schools, hospital, stadiums, and some have now reached a national audience like Massy’s opera theatre. Massy is the hometown of French comedian and director Alain Chabat.
The name of Chatenay Malabry is familiar to riders and most sportsmen for the implantation on its soil of the French national anti-doping laboratory. The Tour will have a thought for its former manager, Jacques de Ceaurriz, who invented with his team a urine test to detect EPO. He left us in January.
Meudon grew in the Middle Ages around the St Martin church and later around the castle overlooking the town. The fortified castle was replaced in the 16th century by an elegant residence which sheltered the love affair between king Francois I and his lovely mistress Anne de Pisseleu. In the 17th century, the marquis of Louvois ordered the huge park around the castle, asking Le Nostre to develop it. The castle was then bought by the Grand Dauphin, Louis XIV’s eldest son, who added new buildings conceived by Mansart. After the death of the Grand Dauphin, the castle was abandoned and plundered for stones by the locals. The 19th century saw Meudon change dramatically, hosting scientists, aviation pioneers and artists alike. Sculptor Rodin, dancer Isadora Duncan lived in Meudon, while Richard Wagner composed the Fyling Dutchman in town.
The 20th century was the age of large housing estates and industrialisation yet artists kept drawing their inspiration from the Seine’s landscapes. Jean Arp, Alberto Magnelli or Marcel Dupre changed the face of painting in Meudon. Architects like Prouvé, André Bloc or Van Doesburg.also used the town as a laboratory for innovation.
Meudon hosted the start of a team time-trial in 1986.
The town of Issy les Moulineaux is well known to the Tour de France fan as the hometown of race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). L’Equipe newspaper – now gone to nearby Boulogne – and plenty other medias accredited on the Tour have their headquarters in town, and especially in the Val de Seine area, host to scores of media and technology companies. Issy had a cycling history before ASO: its sports hall was named after Robert Charpentier, the 1936 Olympic road champion, who took part in the 1947 Tour but saw his pro career hampered by the war.
The town, formed by the reunion of the Issy and Les Moulineaux villages was a stronghold of aviation in its beginnings and street names (Guynemer, Voisin) recall this past.
Issy developed essentially in the 18th century when the local castle was owned by the powerful Conti family. The castle is no longer but a tower subsists and is part of the building hosting a Playing Cards Museum.
The Eiffel Tower, completed in 1889, remains and will continue to remain the tallest building in Paris: 300 metres high and ri¬sing to 324 metres with its an¬tennae.
The Montparnasse Tower, at 210 metres, is a long way behind, even if this edifice, built in 1974, remains the tallest office block in Paris. But the pecking order is to be turned upside down in the years to come, as “skyscrapers” make their big comeback in the Défense bu¬siness district.
The First Tower, also known as the Assur Tower, will rise to a height of 225 metres. It was 174 metres tall when it was built in 1974, but large-scale renovation of the tower was launched in spring 2007, which should make it the tallest building in France in 2010. A prized position that will not be held for very long as the CB21 Tower, situated close by, should be completed in 2011 and will top it by a few metres.
This race to dominate the Paris skyline isn’t over yet. Due to be completed in 2012, the Lighthouse Tower, designed by the American architect Thom Mayne, will come a close second to the Eiffel Tower at 300 metres high.
It is nevertheless the Generali Tower that will rule the skyline: erected on the former site of the Iris high-rise, this “environment-friendly” tower will rise to a height of 318 metres, on the Paris horizon for 2012.
It is a certified fact that Henri IV suf¬fered from gout and that he had the gift of the gab. On the other hand, all the little quips that form part of the history of France and that he allegedly pronounced, were, in all probability, never uttered by Henri de Navarre. All the Tour riders, who pray that their 3-week toil will finish on the most beautiful avenue in the world, would certainly agree with this observation that he re¬putedly expressed: “Paris is well worth a mass”.
On the death of his cousin, in 1589, Henri IV was nominally the king of France, but a king without a kingdom. The vast majority of his subjects, mostly catholic, were ferociously opposed to a Protestant King, still less by a king who was the political and military chief of French reform. Exposed to opposition from his Uncle Charles X and the King of Spain, who claimed the kingdom for his daughter, Henri IV was forced to assert his position as king by military conquest.
Joined by certain Catholic nobles, he was vic¬torious on the battlefield at Arques, then at Ivry against his enemies, the “Leaguers”, under the banner of Charles de Lorraine, the Duke of Mayen¬ne and Guise.
Henri IV laid siege to Paris for 5 months, from May to September 1590, which resulted in 45,000 deaths and an impoverished, weakened, but victorious city. The royal troops retreated and finished their conquest of Chartres, Rouen and Epernay.
The solution to this civil war was as simple as it was difficult for the sovereign. Encouraged by those close to him, and notably his beloved, the beautiful Gabrielle d’Estrées, he finally resolved, on the 25th of July 1593, to renounce his Protes¬tant faith and to convert to Catholicism in the Saint-Denis Basilica, the burial site for the Kings of France. On the 25th of February 1594, he was crowned King in Chartres cathedral. One month later, he entered Paris as the triumphant victor.
France’s capital city and a legendary stage on the Tour de France, Paris is also the world capital of cycling, as it is within the confines of this city or within immediate proximity to it that the sport of cycling was developed and moulded to boast its present day splendour. Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, Paris-Bourges, Paris-Brussels, Bordeaux-Paris, Paris-Brest-Paris, Paris-Marseilles, les Six jours de Paris, such is the wealth of illustrious cycling races, existing or extinct, that have been launched from or finished in the City of Light.
It is moreover within the urban area of Paris, in the Saint-Cloud Park, that the first road cycling race was officially recorded in 1868, won by the English rider James Moore. Six months later, the first inter-city race took our pioneer riders from Paris to Rouen. It was once again an English rider, G.P. Mills, who won the race.
Originally, races were largely confined to tracks in specially-constructed ve¬lodromes that flourished in and around Paris: the Buffalo in Neuilly; the Parc des Princes, where a certain Henri Desgrange set the world’s first one hour cycling record in 1893; the Cipale at Vincennes, the only cycling track that still exists today in the capital…
It was even in Paris, opposite the head offices of “L’Auto” sports newspaper, at number 10 rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, that the International Cycling Union (UCI) was created, by the very same two people who were to dream up the Tour de France two years later.
Henri Desgrange, editor of “L’Auto”, and Victor Goddet, the magazine’s treasu¬rer, already directed events at the Parc des Princes. They were soon to manage the Winter Velodrome. But in 1902, sales of “L’Auto” were scraping along and suffered from fierce competition with rival publications the “ Petit Journal ” and “ Vélo ” edited by Pierre Giffard. The idea of the Tour was concocted in a brasserie called the Zimmer, “Place du Châtelet” (Chatelet Square) in Paris, where the two managers had invited Géo Lefèvre, the magazine’s chief cycling reporter, to join them. It was Lefè¬vre who casually suggested the idea. For this threesome, soon to loop around the entire country of France, and eager to see the cyclists so fêted by the press, converting Paris to their cause was not an easy task.
Indeed, it was from Montgeron that the first Tour was to be launched in 1903, and in the town of Avray that the finish was staged. In fact, the Prefect (of Police) Lépine had banned cycling races in the capital: the originator of the competition for inventors that was to be named after him was a friend of Pierre Giffard, who could not tolerate the idea that a great race be launched from in front of the head office of a rival newspaper.
In reality, Louis Lépine was far from being opposed to cycling: he created police bike squads and developed the “Tiger Brigades” that were to become so popular on television. He invented the driving licence and city speed limits too (12 km/h in 1896!), but also banned women from cycling in Paris, which was considered most unladylike. To this day there exists an underground velodrome, in a furniture shop near to the Opéra district of Paris, where these ladies were able to cycle to their heart’s content, far from prying eyes…
|Around 300 AD||Lutetia was renamed Paris.|
|451||Attila and the Huns approached Paris. Saint Geneviève (around 422 - 502) organised the city’s defences. Attila avoided Paris.|
|486||Saint Genevieve refused to allow Clovis to take Paris unless he converted to Christianity. Clovis converted to Christianity in 496. France became “the church’s eldest daughter”.|
|508||Clovis chose Paris as his capital.|
|1345||The construction of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was completed after 182 years of building work.|
|1370||The foundation stone for the Bastille was laid.|
|1572||Saint-Bartholomew’s day Massacre: 2,000 died.|
|1594||Henri IV entered Paris.|
|1634||Founding of the Académie Française.|
|1658||The biggest flooding of the River Seine with a record 8.96 m registered on the Austerlitz scale.|
|1708-1709||A bitterly cold winter. Record tempera¬ture of –26 degrees in Paris.|
|1789||Storming of the Bastille on the 14th of July.|
|1804||Napoleon was crowned Emperor at Notre-Dame.|
|1836||Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe.|
|1837||Opening of the first French passenger railway line from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.|
|26th March - 22nd May 1871||The Paris Commune.|
|1889||The Eiffel Tower was erected.|