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Maine-et-Loire (Department, France)

Last modified: 2024-03-23 by olivier touzeau
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Flag of Maine-et-Loire, two versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 21 April 2019

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Administrative data

Code: 49
Region: Pays de la Loire
Traditional provinces: Anjou, Poitou
Bordering departments: Indre-et-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Mayenne, Sarthe, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée, Vienne

Area: 7,107 km2
Population (2017): 813,493 inhabitants

Préfecture: Angers
Sous-préfectures: Cholet, Saumur, Segré
Subdivisions: 4 arrondissements, 21 cantons, 177 municipalities.

The department is named after rivers Maine (10 km) and Loire (1,020 km).
On 3 August 1973, the municipality of Puy-Saint-Bonnet was incorporated to the municipality of Cholet and therefore transferred from the department of Deux-Sèvres to the department of Maine-et-Loire.

Ivan Sache, 14 November 2019

Flag of Maine-et-Loire

The flag of Maine-et-Loire (photo) is white with the logo adopted in 2015 by the Departmental Council. Paper flags in blue with the logo in white have been spotted (photo, photo).

The new logo "emphasizes the region of Anjou and river Loire". The name "Anjou" was kept, as more significant and known then "Maine-et-Loire". "Anjou" is written in a blueish color alluding to the famous local slates, while "Maine-et-Loire" is placed on an "intense orange" background, a symbol of warmth and optimism.
The "chiselled leaf" filling letter "a" of "anjou" represents the "territory's Exception Végétale".
The logo was entirely imagined and designed by the Department's communication service.
[Angers Info, 7 April 2015; HitWest, 8 April 2015]

Slate quarries are found in several French regions, mostly in the north-western part of the country. In the 18th-19th centuries, the main quarries were located in Anjou-Mayenne, where production peaked at 175,000 ton in 1905.
Anjou was the main region of slate extraction. The legend says that the use of slate to cover roof was initiated in 592 by St. Licinius, Bishop of Angers and patron saint of the slate workers. Slate quarries were classified among mining quarries on the Mining Code, established in 1810; the slate quarrymen were granted the same status as miners in 1946.

Top-quality slates were industrially extracted from the quarries of Trélazé. The tradition claims that the use of slates for roofing was initiated by St. Licinius / Lézin, Bishop of Angers in 592 and patron saint of the slate quarrymen. The earliest records of organized slate extraction in Trélazé, however, date back to the 14th-15th centuries. Known as Tire-Poche, Champ-Robert and Terre-Rouge, the quarries were mostly owned by religious orders until 1789. Concessions were granted to entrepreneurs who hired workers to extract and cut slate. In the 15th-16th centuries, the Trélazé slates became the reference stuff for roofing the castles built in the valley of Loire and the royal palace of Versailles. In 1891, the eight biggest producers of Trélazé's "black gold" merged to establish the Soci&ecute;té des Ardoises d'Anjou. Incorporated to the Imerys group, the company exploited the last underground slate quarry, Grands-Carreaux, extracting 11,000 ton slates per year, until definitive closure in March 2014 that left 150 worker without employment.

The slate quarry of Misengrain in Noyant-la-Graviére was already recorded in the 17th century. Industrialization of the production was initiated in 1833; the quarry was subsequently owned by a British company and then by the Soci&ecute;té de l'Ouest, which was acquired in 1894 by the Soci&ecute;té des Ardoises d'Anjou. Closed in 1986, the quarry was acquired the next year by the Ardoisières d'Angers, which operated it until its definitive closure 12 years later.
The slate quarries of Bel-Air and La Forêt in Combrée, established around 1840, were taken over in 1876 by the Soci&ecute;té des Ardoisières de la Forêt. In 1896, the Commission des Ardoisières d'Angers settled in Bel-Air to compete with the nearby quarry of Misengrain and the Soci&ecute;té des Ardoises de l'Anjou. Following the bankrupt of the Soci&ecute;té des Ardoisières de la Forêt in 1908, the Commission des Ardoises d'Angers became the sole owner of the Combrée quarries. Like on the other extraction sites, the company built workers' estates, a school and a church. The quarries were definitively closed in 1982.
[Les ardoisières du Nord-Ouest]

"Exception Végétale" means that Anjou, and more generally, the valley of Loire, is an exceptional place to grow all kinds of plants. The "Good King" René, Duke of Anjou, King of Naples, Sicily and Jerusalem, and Count of Provence, introduced several plants of Mediterranean origin in Anjou. In the 17th-18th century, explorers and slave traders brought back several exotic plants to the port of Nantes, from which they colonized the valley of Loire. The first plant nurseries were established in the 18th-19th centuries, selling seeds and cuttings all over Europe.
Plant industry emerged in Angers in the 20th century, with the association of public and private research, development and teaching. The Vegepolys cluster (
website), labelled "pôle de compétitivité" in 2005 by the French government, was awarded the "Gold (Proven for Cluster Excellence)" in 2014 by the European Excellence Initiative. Vegepolys groups more than 400 members, divided into four colleges
- companies, 80% of them being SMEs;
- professional unions and development organisms;
- professional chambers;
- research and teaching centers.
Headquartered in Angers, Vegepolys has three operational sites (Angers; Orléans, Saint-Pol-de-Léon) and two foreign branches, Vegepolys China (Shanghai) and Vegepolys Latina (Bogotá).
[Société nationale d'horticulture de France]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 2 June 2019

Flag of the former General Council


Flag of the former General Council of Maine-et-Loire - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 April 2019

The flag of the former General Council of Maine-et-Loire (photo, photo) was burgundy red with the logo, adopted in 2009, in white.

Olivier Touzeau, 21 April 2019

Former flags of the General Council


Flag of the former General Council of Maine-et-Loire - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 April 2019

The former flag of the General Council of Maine-et-Loire was white with the Council's former logo.

Ivan Sache, 30 September 2009

Ceremonial flag of Maine-et-Loire


Ceremonial flag of Maine-et-Loire - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 April 2019

A ceremonial flag of the department (photo) is in use in the office of the President of the Departmental Council, white with the coat of arms of the department, and golden fringe.
The coat of arms, "Per pale, 1. Azure two fleurs-de-lis or a bordure gules, 2. Azure a Cross of Lorraine gules fimbriated or" differs from the arms assigned by Jacques Meurgey de Tupigny & Robert Louis in Marques symboliques des départements français, as "Azure three fleurs-de-lis or a bordure gules", that is the arms of the traditional province of Anjou, which had, more or less, the same limits as the department.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 3 May 2019