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Dunkirk (Municipality, Nord, France): Subdivisions

Last modified: 2019-01-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: dunkirk | malo-les-bains | petite-synthe | rosendael | mardyck | fort-mardyck | saint-pol-sur-mer |
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Subdivisions of Dunkirk

The municipality of Dunkirk was increased by the incorporation of several neighbouring former municipalities:
- as boroughs: Malo-les-Bains (separated from Rosendaë in 1881, incorporated to Dunkirk in 1970), Petite-Synthe (incorporated in 1972), and Rosendaël (separated from Teteghem and Coudekerque-Branche in 1856, incorporated to Dunkirk in 1972);
- as associate municipalities: Mardyck (incorporated in 1980), Saint-Pol-sur-Mer (separated from Petite-Synthe in 1877, incorporated in 2010), and Fort-Mardyck (incorporated in 2010).

Ivan Sache, 2 March 2017




Flag of Malo-les-Bains - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 9 July 2006

Malo-les-Bains (16,182 inhabitants in 1999; 376 ha) was founded east of Dunkirk before 1870, as the town's sea resort, by a shipowner from Dunkirk called Malo. Nicknamed "The Queen of the Northern Beaches" in the beginning of the 20th century, Malo-les-Bains has kept its promenade and houses called "malouines.
In spring and summer, the flags of the former municipalities incorporated to Dunkirk are flown on the promenade of Malo, along with the municipal flag of Dunkirk.

The flag of Malo-les-Bains is red with a white star near the hoist and a yellow lower right quarter. The design is based on the municipal arms, "Gules a mullet argent surmounted by two roses of the same on waves argent a chief or a lion sable [chief of Flanders]".

The red and yellow colours are seen everywhere in Malo-les-Bains; even the street plaques have yellow letters on a red background, something very unusual, if not unique, in France.
In 1899, the municipality of Malo-les-Bains and its Mayor, Adolphe Geeraert, launched a contest, open to all French artists, for a municipal coat of arms, intended to celebrate the separation from Rosendaël. The winning design was proposed by a Mr. Amaury, from Paris (unless he was a Mr. Amaury de Paris, the writing is ambiguous), as "Gules a star argent issuant from a sea of the same tMalo-les-Bains proper) flanked by two roses or (Rosendaël), a chief or charged with a lion sable and langued tFlanders)." The shield surmounts a scroll.
[>FONT SIZE=-1>La Voix du Nord, 2 August 2009]

Arnaud Leroy, Ludovic Leu, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 29 August 2009



Flag of Petite-Synthe - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 9 July 2006

Petite-Synthe (in Dutch, Klein-Sinten; 16,707 inhabitants in 1999; 1,145 ha) is located in the south-west of Dunkirk

The flag of Petite-Synthe is vertically divided blue-red. Blue is not shown on the municipal arms, "Argent a cross gules cantoned by four hawk's bells sable". However, the traditional bicolour flag of the neighbouring municipality of Grande-Synthe is vertically divided blue-yellow. Petite-Synthe might have replaced the yellow stripe by a red stripe alluding to the cross on the arms.

Arnaud Leroy, Ludovic Leu & Ivan Sache, 9 July 2006


[Flag]         [Flag]

Flag of Rosendaël, two versions - Images by Arnaud Leroy, 9 July 2006

Rosendaël (in Dutch, Rozendaal; 18,272 inhabitants in 1999) is located east of Dunkirk and Malo-les-Bains.

The flag of Rosendaël flown on the promenade of Malo-les-Bains is horizontally divided green-red-green-red-green-red. The flag has also be seen with inverted colours.
The canting arms of Rosendaël are "Argent a rose gules". The origin of the green colour on the flag is not known.

Arnaud Leroy & Ivan Sache, 9 July 2006

Associate municipalities



Flag of Fort-Mardyck - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 30 March 2004

Fort-Mardyck (Dutch, Fort-Mardijk; 3,605 inhabitants in 2009, 141 ha) stretches over 140 ha between the Western Port and the Eastern Port of Dunkirk.
The fort of Mardyck (or Mardic) was built in 1622 by architect Jean Gamel for the Spanish rulers of Flanders. It was a big (700 x 900 m) fortress built on the sea shore in order to protect the Western Port, which was the main access to Dunkirk. Therefore, every seizure of Dunkirk required the seizure the fort, which was seized, lost and seized again several times by the French between 1644 and 1658 until the battle of the Dunes, won on 14 June 1658 by Marshal Turenne over the Spanish troops commanded by the Great Condé.

After having purchased Dunkirk and the fort from the English in 1662, Louis XIV ordered the destruction of the fort. His main minister Colbert established a fishers' colony on the available land, which was settled by Four families - Benard, Evrard, Godin, and Zoonekynd . The beginning of the colony was difficult because of very harsh conditions and the hostility of the local Flemish population. In 1700, the fishers created a syndicate to administrate the concession, which was nominally a part of Mardyck, later of Petite-Synthe and eventually of Grande-Synthe. The village developed thanks to the Grande Pêche in Iceland.
An Imperial Decree signed on 12 February 1867 established Fort-Mardyck as an independent municipality and confirmed the fishers' privilege. In 1930, the inhabitants of Fort-Mardyck asked for the suppression of the privilege, which restricted the economical development of the town, preventing the establishment of new shops and buildings). The odd statutes of Fort-Mardyck were abolished only on 31 July 1962 by the National Assembly; the municipality eventually became the sole owner of its own territory.

The flag of Fort-Mardyck, hoisted on the Town Hall is horizontally divided red-white-red-white. A vertical flag, made of six horizontal stripes with a red stripe on top, was also used.

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 1 April 2004



Flag of Mardyck - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 9 July 2006

Mardyck (in Dutch, Mardijk; 372 inhabitants in 1999; 869 ha) is located west of Dunkirk and Fort-Mardyck
Mardyck is located within the Dunkirk industrial park, with three Seveso-classified plants located ion its territory and another 14 plants located within a 10-km radius. The Norwegian gazoduct Norfra, set up in 1998, runs at the limit of the village. A risk analysis conducted in 1991 recommended to build an artificial hill of 100 m in height and 300 m in width to protect the village in case of an industrial accident.
After the explosion of the AZF plant in Toulouse in 2001, the project of transferring the villagers eleswhere resurfaced. It would be easier there to move the inhabitants than to move the dangerous plants far away from the towns, as it has been recommended in Bordeaux, Marseilles and Lyon.
[L'Interdit, November 2001]

On 2 January 2002, the Total plant released sulphur dioxyde in a concentration much higher than the norm. Several inhabitants of Mardyck were poisoned, a few of them had to be hospitalized. On 25 June 2002, the >Mouvement National de Lutte pour l'Environnement asked the authorities to organize and fund the transfer of the inhabitants of Mardyck who would require it.
In Mardyck in particular and in France in general, concern for the industrial risk has dramatically increased after the AZF explosion. Mardyck was indeed one of the richest municipalities in France because the chemical companies whose plants are located on the municipal territory paid a lot of business taxes. Therefore, earlier proposals of transferring the villagers were rejected in the 1980s. It is said that Dunkirk "purchased" Mardyck in 1980, being mostly interested in the business taxes.

The flag of Mardyck is horizontally divided blue-yellow-blue-yellow-blue-yellow. The design was clearly inspired by the flag of Dunkirk while the colours are taken from the arms of Mardyck, "Azure a boat or carrying a Saint Nicholas proper clad argent and or with a crozier and a miter of the same blessing with the dexter").

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 9 July 2006



Flag of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 3 July 2005

Saint-Pol-sur-Mer (21,860 inhabitants in 2009, 514 ha; municipal website) is located in the western suburbs of Dunkirk.

In the 18th century, the western side of the port of Dunkirk, where Saint-Pol would be later built, was nothing but a desert land covered by dunes and swamps, bordered by the North Sea in the north and the Canal of Mardyck in the south. In 1820, Saint-Pol was a hamlet of the municipality of Petite-Synthe, with some 200 inhabitants, then known as Dornegat (the thorns' hole).
Following the increase of the population (up to 1,500 in 1869), the municipality of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer was established by a Decree signed on 29 September 1877 by Marshal Mac-Mahon, President of the Republic. The new municipality was named after the estaminet (pub) located at the entrance of the hamlet and named Le Saint-Pol. The name of the pub was a tribute to Knight Marc-Antoine de Saint-Pol Hercourt, a lieutenant of the famous corsair from Dunkirk Jean Bart (1650-1702). People used to say "I go to Saint-Pol's" or "I go to Saint-Pol", so that the name of Saint-Pol progressively replaced Dornegat.

On 13 September 1889, "sur-Mer" (on the sea) was officially added to the name of the municipality. Saint-Pol-sur-Mer was mostly inhabited by dockers working in the port of Dunkirk, the third most important port of commerce in France since 1890. There were 10,258 inhabitants in Saint-Pol in 1911. In 1912, the municipality of Dunkirk purchased from Saint-Pol the land bordering the sea in order to increase the port.
Saint-Pol-sur-Mer was no longer located on the sea, but the name of the municipality was not changed. An airfield was built in 1913 near the sea in Saint-Pol. British and French flight squadrons were stationed there during the First World War. The town was bombed several times in 1915-1918. The famous airman Georges Guynemer (1894-1917) stayed in Saint-Pol in 1917. Guynemer commanded the Cigognes (Storks) fight squadron of the French Air Force during the First World War. He is credited 53 victories and was shot down near Poelkapelle, in Belgian Flanders.

The flag of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer is horizontally divided into six horizontal white and green stripes.
The flag is strikingly similar to flag of Dunkirk. Neither the colours nor the design of the flag have anything to do with the municipal arms, "Gules three pales vair a chief or a label sable".

Arnaud Leroy, Ludovic Leu & Ivan Sache, 3 July 2009