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Douarnenez (Municipality, Finistère, France)

Last modified: 2023-09-30 by olivier touzeau
Keywords: finistere | douarnenez |
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Flag of Douarnenez - Image by Olivier Touzeau , 11 December 2021

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Presentation of Douarnenez

Douarnenez (13,956 inhabitants on 2,494 ha) is a commune in the department of Finistère, at the mouth of the Pouldavid River, an estuary on the southern shore of Douarnenez Bay in the Atlantic Ocean, 25 kilometres north-west of Quimper.

Archaeological excavations in recent decades have revealed numerous traces of early human occupation of the territory of Douarnenez. In particular, a Roman occupation whose artisanal and commercial traces are still visible locally: garum factories and Plomarc'h salt meats. The port existed also very early on in a larger territory, which is that of the parish of Ploaré. The legendary city of Ys, of Breton folklore, is believed to lie beneath Douarnenez Bay. The port is also associated with the Arthurian medieval story of Tristan, lover of Iseult, for whom Tristan Island is named. In the 12th century, Douarnenez depends very largely on the priory of Tristan Island, which certainly earned it its name, Douar an Enez, the Land of the Island. In the 15th and 17th centuries, Douarnenez will not be spared by the upheavals that shake Cornouaille andmore broadly Brittany, whether it is the wars of the League or the Revolt of the Bonnets Rouges in 1675.

But the history of Douarnenez, as an independent entity and, at the same time, as a fully-fledged municipality, did not really begin until 1790, when the plot formed by the port was distracted from the parish of Ploaré, as were too later Gourlizon (set up as a municipality in 1892), and of Le Juch (set up as a municipality in 1899). This secular emancipation was not coupled with religious emancipation until 1875, the year during which Douarnenez was established as a parish. The Church of the Sacred Heart was then built, replacing the Chapel of St. Helena, which had long since become too small to accommodate the mass of the parishioners. The factory activities linked to sardine fishing will ensure extremely rapid development in the city which, from 1,473 inhabitants in 1793, rose to 11,465 inhabitants in 1896. Industrious and popular, Douarnenez became, in 1921, with the election of Sébastien Velly, the first communist municipality in France. It is also from this working ground that one of the harshest strikes, in 1924, will be born, that of the sardine canners, mostly women, in favour of better working conditions for the factory women or "Penn Sardin". The prefectural decree of June 14, 1945 gave birth to a greater Douarnenez, with the merger of this municipality with those of Ploaré, Tréboul and Pouldavid. This caused, in fact, a doubling of the population which reached a peak of 20,764 inhabitants. From this date, the demography decreased steadily. The population has declined since the mid-20th century because of jobs lost from declines in the fishing industry. But Douarnenez still has fish canning facilities (sardines and mackerel) although sardine fishing, for which the town became famous, has fallen off in recent years.

Olivier Touzeau , 21 December 2021

Flag of Douarnenez

The current flag of Douarnenez is white with logo (photo, 2014; photo, 2016; photo, 2019).

This logo was adopted in 2013 (source: article on a blog about Alain Le Quernec, creator of the former logo, and his advice about the new logo).

Olivier Touzeau , 21 December 2021

Former flags of Douarnenez

[Flag]        [Flag]        [Flag]

Former flags of Douarnenez : left, official flag ; middle, right, variants - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 21 December 2021

The flag reported by Divi Kervella, shown in 2010 on Pascal Vagnat's website, was blue with a negative black and white version of the first variant of the logo, which had been designed by Alain Le Quernec. The logo represents the two letters DZ which are the mark of the maritime district, the lettering being characteristic of that used by old fishing boats.

The main part of the logo could be spotted on a sky blue flag in 2010, status of the flag unknown (source, 4th picture in this link).
Flagmakers sell medium blue flags with the full logo (example; another example; a third example).


Former flag of Douarnenez : vertical variant - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 December 2021

A vertical flag with the former logo and the words "Ville de Douarnenez" could still be seen in 2015-2016 (photo).

Olivier Touzeau , 21 December 2021

Unofficial flag of Douarnenez


Unofficial flag of Douarnenez - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 21 December 2021

The arms have already been seen in use on white flags, bu not AFAIK in an official context (see here the picture of such a flag on a private property).

The arms of Douarnenez are Azure, a key Or in pale the lock pin downwards in the shape of an anchor, the ring being a lozenge pommety. The city's motto is Dalc'h mad, which means "Hold on". It is taken from the name of a boat that the Douarnenez resistance fighters had borrowed to reach England following the call of General de Gaulle.

Olivier Touzeau , 21 December 2021