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Agde (Municipality, Hérault, France)

Last modified: 2023-11-11 by olivier touzeau
Keywords: agde | ephebe | fess wavy |
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Flags of Agde - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 11 January 2022

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Presentation of Agde

Agde (29,201 inhabitants in 2018; 5,090 ha) is a commune in the Hérault department. It is the Mediterranean port of the Canal du Midi.

The city of Agde, sometimes called the black pearl of the Mediterranean because of its monuments built in basalt stone, has a long history.
Agde (525 BCE) is one of the oldest towns in France, after Béziers (575 BCE) and Marseilles (600 BCE). Agde (Agathe Tyche, "good fortune") was a 5th-century BCE Greek colony settled by Phocaeans from Massilia. The Greek name was Agathe.
The bronze Ephebe of Agde, of the 4th century BCE, recovered from the fluvial sands of the Hérault, is a symbol of the city.

The Visigoths occupied Agde at the end of the 5th century. The peopole of Agde were then certainly already converted to Christianity. The Saint-André church, at the beginning of the 6th century, existed outside the walls, in the countryside. Converted or tolerant, the Visigoths authorized the Council of 506 in Agde. Held under the presidency of Caesarius of Arles, it was attended by 35 bishops, and its 47 genuine canons dealt "with ecclesiastical discipline". One of its canons (the seventh), forbidding ecclesiastics to sell or alienate the property of the church from which they derived their living, seems to be the earliest mention of the later system of benefices.
The 7th and 8th centuries were a restless period due to wars and invasions. The Muslims, called Saracens, occupied Aquitaine and Languedoc for a time. The town of Agde was destroyed for the first time at the beginning of the 8th century by Charles Martel when he took it back from the Arabs. In the middle of this century, Agde became territory of the Frankish kingdom.
At the end of the 12th century, the bishop of Agde bought back the loans from the viscount of Agde and became lord of the county of Agde. The bishops will remain temporal and spiritual heads of Agde and of the diocese until the French Revolution, when Agde lost its bishopric.
During the 13th century, Agde suffered the consequences of the disastrous war between France and Aragon: in 1286, Roger de Loria, in the service of Peter III of Aragon, plundered the city, set fire to the main buildings and killed adult men. Between 1348 and 1372, Agde experienced the Plague, the consequences of the Hundred Years War and the lootings.
Agde was attacked twice by Protestants during the wars of religion. Constable of France since 1593, Henri II de Montmorency, who liked coming to Agde, had the church of Notre-Dame du Grau and the chapel of Agenouillade built. The first known jousting tournaments in Agde were held in his honor in 1601.
From 1586 to 1610, Fort Brescou was built on a rocky islet off what is now Cap d'Agde in order to watch over the entrance to the port. Demolished by order of Louis XIII in 1632, it was rebuilt and then enlarged in 1680 to become a state prison. Cardinal Richelieu began the construction of a pier to link the coast to Brescou. But his death on December 4, 1642, delayed the work which was finally abandoned in 1651.
In the 18th century, shipbuilding became an important activity. The vines developed in the 18th century too.
The Sète-Béziers railway line passed through Agde in 1841. The arrival of the railway coincides with the beginning of the decline of the commercial port of Agde. The port's traffic declined after the years 1860-1870 because the tonnage of ships increased; the steam ships then left Agde for Sète.

In WWII, between September 1940 and November 1942, the Agde camp was used by the Vichy government to lock up Jewish families fleeing countries invaded by the Nazis. On August 20, 1944, the Germans left the city.
Until the 1950s and 1960s, Agde lived on agriculture, fishing and family seaside tourism in the Grau d'Agde resort. After 1960, the Interministerial Land Use Planning Mission, chaired by Pierre Racine, chose to develop in Agde one of the tourist units in Languedoc-Roussillon: the Cap d´Agde resort. The architect was Jean Le Couteur. Today, it has become, in terms of overnight stays, one of Europe's leading tourist resort, welcoming up to 300,000 people each summer at the height of the season. Cap d'Agde has a large family-style naturist resort.

The coat of arms of Agde is blazonned Or, three wavy fess Azure.
These arms were registered on August 2, 1697 in the armorial general of France of Charles d'Hozier. The three wavy azure fesses symbolize union of the waters of the sea, the river and the Canal du Midi. The town of Agde has had a coat of arms since at least the mid-16th century, but originally the number of fesses was not fixed. An escutcheon carved on a stone of the ramparts shows four wavy fesses.

Olivier Touzeau, 11 January 2022

Flags of Agde

- The flag of Agde is white with the arms and the name of the city (photo, 2020).

- The variant flag of Agde (photo, 2012) is white with logo adopted in 2011, including the motto "Archipelago of life" which was already in use in the previous logo

Olivier Touzeau, 11 January 2022

Former variant flags of Agde

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Former variant flags of Agde, left before 2006, right 2006-2011 - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 11 January 2022

The former variant flags of Agde before 2006, in use together with the white flag with coat of arms, were:
- blue with the logo showing the Ephebe of Agde (photo on Dominique Cureau’s website).
- white with the new colourful logo adopted in 2006 and in use until 2011, with the motto: Archipelago of life (photo, 2009; photo, 2007).

Olivier Touzeau, 11 January 2022