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Orchies (Municipality, Nord, France)

Last modified: 2021-01-31 by ivan sache
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Flag of Orchies - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 9 December 2020

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Presentation of Orchies

The municipality of Orchies (8,736 inhabitants in 2018; 1,092 ha) is located 30 km of Lille and 20 km of Douai. The Orchies cobbled sector (1,700 m; grade ***; video), has been present every year since 1980 on the route of the cyclist race Paris-Roubaix.

The Chicory Museum, eventually closed on 31 October 2018, was housed in the mansion erected in the 19th century by the Leroux family. The Leroux company (website) - now longer owned by the founding family - is still a leader in the production of roast chicory (sold as "grain chicory") and derived products, employing 185 workers in Orchies. Chicory was first used as a coffee substitute in 1806, during the Continental System that prevented importation of coffee from the English colonies. In 1858, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Leroux (1800-1882) acquired the Herbo Fils & Co. factory, then employing six workers in Orchies, which he offered to his son, Alphonse-Henri-François. At the time, the factory produced not only chicory but also chocolate, tapioca and mustard. In 1871, following a blaze, Leroux built a brand new factory near a railway and dropped all products but chicory.

Leroux and his successors were wise marketers. The company soon gained access to the Spanish and Argentine markets; in 1887, they hired their first sales representatives (voyageurs de commerce) to promote their products to retailers all over France. The emblem of Chicorée Leroux, still used nowadays, was designed in 1899. The Breton woman, clad in Audierne costume, is a wink to the origin of Leroux, who was born in Douarnenez.
The efficient motto La chicorée Leroux fait le bon café (Chicorée Leroux makes a good coffee) dates from the same period. Leroux invented in 1904 the promotional labels to be cut from packages and collected to get gifts. Leroux' advertising posters, now highly prized collectibles, were first designed in 1925. At the end of the Second World War, Leroux hired the musician Ray Ventura (other sources say, Jacques Hélian), who rebranded Paul Misraki's famous song Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise (video) as Tout va tout doux, Madame la Marquise (video). A few years later, Leroux invested in professional sport, sponsoring in 1955 the cyclist teams of Jean Stablinski, and, subsequently, of Jacques Anquetil.
The first TV commercials promoting Chicorée Leroux (video) were broadcast in 1963; for the next ten years, spots featuring the twins Marc and Dominique, made of Leroux the second main TV advertisers second to sugar industry.
In permanent search for innovation, Leroux developed instant chicory in 1951, liquid chicory in 1984, flavored chicory in 1991, instant dual coffee-chicory in 2015, and organic instant chicory in 2018.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2020

Flag of Orchies

The flag of Orchies (photo) is white with the municipal logo, which features a common chickory plant and the Town Hall of Orchies.

Common chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is a somewhat woody, perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae, usually with bright blue flowers, rarely white or pink. Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, chicons (var. foliosum, or roots (var. sativum), which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and food additive.

The Town Hall of Orchoes was erected in 1610 in Flemish Renaissance style, using bricks and stone. Its first floor originally housed a traditional Flemish pub (estaminet). Severely damaged during the First World War, the re-built Town Hall was inaugurated in 1926 by President of the Council of Ministers (~ Prime Minister) Raymond Poincaré. Deemed too small in 1992, the building was added a floor, hardly visible from outside.
[Municipal website]

Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 13 December 2020