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Raon-l'Étape (Municipality, Vosges, France)

Last modified: 2021-03-16 by ivan sache
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Flag of Raon-l'Étape - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 7 September 2020

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Presentation of Raon-l'Étape

The municipality of Raon-l'Étape (6,297 inhabitants in 2018; 2,371 ha) is located 50 km of Épinal. The municipality was established in 1947 as the merger of the former municipalities of La Neuveville and Raon-l'Étape.

La Neuveville was established in the 12th century on the left bank of river Meurthe, with protection and support from Duke of Lorraine, by the cannons of Étival Abbey who provided both the necessary land and the expertise. The port at La Neuveville made it possible for loads of timber to be exported along the river. The little town grew rapidly in size and wealth.
On the other side of the river, the old village of Raon was founded in the 13th century by civilian administration of the dukes of Lorraine, and made it easier to protect transshipment across the river the important Saulniers Way trade route towards the mountains and the Empire beyond. The village was dominated by Beauregard Castle which had been rebuilt and extended by Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine. The land was included within the territory of Moyenmoutier Abbey. The foundation of Raon achieved the economic objectives of the dukes of Lorraine, attracting members of the mercantile class which was growing across Europe at this time. Geography also favoured commerce with the presence of two navigable rivers, and economic success was assured through civic privileges conferred by the dukes and through the security afforded by the growth of fortifications and the maintenance of a military garrison.
During the 14th century the civil influence of the monks declined at La Neuveville as the little town and its important port facilities came increasingly under the sole control of the Dukes, while the citizens continued vigorously to reject the pressing influence of Raon-l'Étape. Neither town grew beyond a population of a few thousand, still separated into two settlements by the river, until the 19th century.

In 1864 the left bank, and therefore La Neuveville, was privileged to receive a rail connection on the line from Nancy. The railway brought industrialisation and also put an end to the transportation of timber by floating it down the river, which had contributed to the development of the little port for so long. Paradoxically, it was the prestige of Raon-l'Étape which in some ways benefitted more than that of La Neuveville: tourism began to evolve in France in the late 19th century, and the old right bank town with its picturesque medieval streets offered a quaint charm that replaced the industrial and commercial action that grew apace in its left bank rival.

Olivier Touzeau, 7 September 2020

Flag of Raon-l'Étape

The flag of Raon-l'Étape (photo, photo) is white with the municipal logo, which features the winged lion (indeed, a griffin) decorating the Four Lions fountain (photo).

From 1860 to 1864, eleven cast iron fountains were erected in the town, as part of the program of public supply of freshwater. The fountains were cast in the Osne-le-Val foundry on models designed by Jean-Jacques Ducel (180-1877):
- The Child and the Swan;
- Concord;
- Happiness;
- Diane de Fabies;
- The Goat;
- Autumn;
- The Pinecone;
- The Child;
- The Four Lions;
- The Three Coliches;
- Minerva.
The eleven fountains were registered as an historical monument on 15 September 1995; the collective registration abrogated the eleven individual registrations issued on 19 December 1986.
[ Ministry of Culture]

Olivier Touzeau & , 10 September 2020