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Saint-Amand-Montrond (Municipality, Cher, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: cher | saint-amand-montrond | war cross |
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[Flag of St. Amand]

Flag of Saint-amand-Montrond - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 28 November 2004

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Presentation of Saint-Amand-Montrond

The municipality of Saint-Amand-Montrond (11,829 inhabitants in 2008; 2,017 ha) is the capital of a small region called Boischaut. The municipality of Bruères-Allichamps, located a few kilometers north-west of Saint-Amand, claims to be the geographical center of France.

Saint-Amand developed near a monastery said to have been found around year 620 by the monk Theodulf, probably on the site of an earlier Gallo-Roman settlement located on the way between Bourges and Clermont-Ferrand. The first church was dedicated to St. Amand, an hermit bishop who evangelized France and Flanders. Nothing has remained from this church but the name of the town. The current church, built in the 12th century and is a typical example of the Berry Romanesques churches.
In the 12th century, the fortified tpwn of Saint-Amand-le-Chastel was founded by the Déols family. In the same period, the castle of Montrond was built on a hill dominating river Cher. The two settlements merged in the 15th century to form the town of Villeneuve-Saint-Amand, subsequently renamed Saint-Amand-sous-Montrond, eventually Saint-Amand-Montrond. There is still in Saint-Amand a street named rue Entre-les-deux-villes, literally "street between the two town", which recalls the two former settlements.
In 1621, Sully sold the castle of Montrond to the Duke of Bourbon, father of the Grand Condé (1621-1686), who led the revolt of the princes against the royal power known as Fronde des Princes. In 1652, his castle was seized after a 11-month siege. Abandoned, the castle lost its roof some 80 years later and the ruins were transformed into a stone quarry in 1793. The remains of the castle have been recently cleaned and revamped by the local association Cercle d'Histoire et d'Archéologie du Saint-Amandois.
During the French Revolution, the town was renamed Libreval.

In the 19th century, the Canal of Berry was built, allowing the industrial development of Saint-Amand-Montrond. Printing and jewelry became the two main activities in the town. It is still said today that the last book you have read and your golden chain bracelet were probably manufactured in Saint-Amand.
The printing works Bussière and Clerc are two factories of economical significance at the European level, which employ more than 500. The Bussière printing was founded in 1832 and operates today four modern Cameron printing presses, processing each year 21,000 tons of paper. Bussière is specialized in the printing of pocket books and novels, especially the books awarded literary prizes requiring huge and quick print runs. The Bussière family recently ceded the company to the Chevrillon-Philippe Industrie group, which also owns the Brodard et Taupin printing. The Clerc printing, founded in 1878, is directed by the founder's grand son. Clerc is specialized in offset printing of art and school books with colour plates, and works for big publishers, such as Actes Sud, Albin Michel, Gallimard and Hachette. It produces each year 10 millions books, processing 8,000 tons of papers and 25 tons of ink. Clerc also prints comic books, such as the Astérix series.
The first jewelry workshop was opened in Saint-Amand in 1888. The Moricault brothers, from Paris, were advized by one of their workers, coming from Meillant, near Saint-Amand, to open a workshop in the center of France. Since then, Saint-Amand is the third French jewelry market after Paris and Lyon, processing each year 3 tons of gold, that is 3% of the national trade. In the 1970s, jewelry was hit by the economical crisis and there are today only 10 factories still active in the town, employing 200. The traditional products were chain bracelets, chains and bracelets. In the early 2000s, another four factories opened in Saint-Amand, targeting the luxury market, and working for instance for Dior and Cartier. The secondary school Jean-Guéhenno, training jewelry, has created in 2001a Diplôme des métiers d'art.
The Cité de l'Or is the first museum program dedicated to gold in France, including a museum and a show-room exhibiting local products.

Saint-Amand-Montrond twinned in 1985 with the town of Riobamba, Ecuador. This was the first twinning of a French town with Ecuador. The link between Saint-Amand and Ecuador dates back to the middle of the 18th century. In 1735, Charles Marie de la Condamine (1701-1774) led a scientific expedition to South America, whose aim was to measure the length of an arc of meridian; the expedition also made several naturalist observations and brought back rubber to Europe. The scientist Jean Godin des Odonais, from Saint-Amand, took part to the expedition with his nephew Jean, who married Isabel de Casamayor in Riobamba and did not return to France with the other members of the expedition. In 1748, Jean, announced the death of his father, decided to go back to France alone and prepare there the coming of the rest of the family. Without news fomr her husband for years, Isabel moved to France with the family in 1769; during the crossing of South America, all the members of the family died but Isabel, who was healed by Indians. Isabel and Jean eventually met again after 21 years and settled in Saint-Amand in 1773, where they died in 1792.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 28 November 2004

Flag of Saint-Amand-Montrond

The flag of Saint-Amand-Montrond is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The coat of arms of Saint-Amand-Montrond, adopted in 1947, is "Quarterly 1. and 4. Or three bars gules 2. and 3. Gules".
These arms quarter the arms of Ebbes de Charenton, founder of the town in the 12th century, with the arms of the Albret family, lord of Saint-Amand in the 16th century.

The decoration appended to the shield is the War Cross, represented without its ribbon.

Ivan Sache, 28 November 2004