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Montpellier (Municipality, Hérault, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-09 by ivan sache
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Flags of Montpellier - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 24 June 2001

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Presentation of Montpellier

The municipality of Montpellier (2683456 inhabitants in 2012; 5,688 ha; municipal website) is the 8th most populated French town, just before Bordeaux. The population of the town doubled during the last four decades.

In 985, Guilhem, a local lord, was granted two manses (estates) by his suzereign, the Count of Mauguio. One of these estates was a hill called Monte Pestelario, on which the Guilhem dynasty thrived. In the 11th century, Montpellier was a small fortified town with a castle and a church, which indicated some significance. In the beginning of the 13th century, the town was reorganized by building new walls linking Montpellier, the lord's town, to Montpelliéret, the Bishop's town. Montpellier was then the second largest town in France, owning trade posts in Tyr, Akkro, Tripoli and Armenia. A Faculty of Medicine and a College of Law and Art were established, soon among the most famous niversities in Europe. The town minted its own currency (sceau des consuls).
At the end of the Guilhem dynasty, Montpellier was incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragón but was de facto a republic with a Charter of Customs and Liberties. In the middle of the 14th century, Montpellier was sold to the king of France, who did not care much for the development of the town.

At the end of the 16th century, Henry IV founded in Montpellier France's first botanical garden, which was then dedicated to the study of medicinal herbs. In the 17th century, a mall was created near the botanical garden to place Louis XIV's equestrian statue. The water castle and mall of Peyrou were designed by Jean-Antoine Giral, member of a local architects' dynasty. At the end of the 17th century, a triumphal arch linking the mall to the town was built by d'Aviler after plans drawn by François d'Orbay.
In the 17th-18th century, Richelieu and Louis XIV increased the power of the Intendents and made of Montpellier the capital of Lower Languedoc. The old town of Montpellier was mostly built during that period, including several town houses still there (hôtel Jacques-Cœur, hôtel de Montcalm, hôtel de Manse, hôtel de Varennes, hôtel Saint-Côme). The aristocrates and bourgeois built in the town's outskirts manors called folies (follies), such as the castles of Flaugergues, Mogère, Engarrand and Mosson.

In the 19th century, the boom of wine-growing caused an increase in the wealth of the town and a new urban reorganization; the Court Hall, new churches and the railway were erected, while the theater was rebuilt. However, the development of the town was stopped by the phylloxera crisis and, subsequently, wine overproduction.
At the end of the 20th century, the old downtown was completely restored; the place de la Comédie, named for the theater but locally known as "l'Œuf" (The Egg) for its shape, became the heart of Montpellier. Modern architectural groupings (for instance, Antigone), designed by the Catalan, post-modern, neo-classical architect Ricardo Bofill, were harmoniously appended to the historical downtown.

Ivan Sache, 5 May 2003

Flags of Montpellier

The Town Hall of Montpellier has three poles on its flat roof:
- the center pole, higher than the two others, flies the French national flag;
- the pole at viewer's left flies two flags, the one with the municipal coat of arms flying above the traditional flag of Provence, vertically striped yellow-red;
- the pole at viewer's right also flies two flags, the one with the logo of the town flying above the traditional flag of Languedoc.

The coat of arms of Montpellier shows on a field azure the Blessed Virgin holding Jesus and sitting on a throne or. The uncial letters "A" and "M", argent, placed in chief, stand for "Ave Maria". In the shield base, an escutcheon features the coat of arms of the Guilhem dynasty, "Argent a roundel gules".

A row of flags is displayed on the main square in front of the Town Hall:
- the municipal flag with the logo, slightly different from the flag hoisted on the roof of the Town Hall;
- the flag of European Union;
- the flag of Germany, for the twin town of Heidelberg;
- the flag of China, for the twin town of Chengdu;
- the flag of Spain, for the twin town of Barcelona;
- the flag of the USA,for the twin town of Louisville;
- the flag of France;
- the flag of Israel, for the twin town of Tiberias.

Ivan Sache, 24 June 2001

Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomération


BLMA supporter's flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 May 2014

Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomération (BLMA; website) was established in 2007 as the merger of two clubs located in Greater Montpellier, Basket Lattes Maurin (BLM) and Montpellier Basket Club (MBC). The team plays in the sports hall of Lattes, a town located just south of Montpellier; Maurin is a borough of Lattes.

The feminine team (nicknamed "Gazelles") is among the best professional teams in France, winner of the French Cup in 2011 in 2013; 2nd in the National Championship in 2013 and National Champions in 2014.
BLMA has been coached sice 2007 by Valéry Demory, a former point guard (National champions with Limoges in 1990 and Pau-Orthez in 1992; 85 caps with the French national team, 1982-1991, 442 points). The emblematic captain of BLMA is the shooting guard Gaëlle Skrela (b. 1983, the daughter and the sister of two famous rugby players from Stade Toulousain), who joined BLMA in 2004 and played 17 times with the French national team (2013-2014). BLMA was the last club (2013-2014) of the point guard Estelle Lawson-Wade (b. 1979; 210 caps with the French national team, 1998-2013, 1,367 points).

The Gazelles are supported by the Jumpers, famous for their blue kangaroo and their flags, vertically divided blue-white (photo, photo).

Ivan Sache, 2 May 2014