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Saint-Pierre (Municipality, Reunion, France)

Last modified: 2009-06-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: saint-pierre | ship (yellow) | keys: 3 (yellow) |
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[Flag of Saint-Pierre]

Flag of Saint-Pierre - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 5 February 2009

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Presentation of Saint-Pierre

The municipality of Saint-Pierre (74,480 inhabitants in 2006; 9,599 ha) is located on the southern side of the island.

Until 1700, the southern part of the island was a "reserved quarter" forbidden to colonisation. In 1720, a road was opened from Saint-Paul to the river of Abord, where several colonists moved to form the village of Abord. In 1730, the villagers required the building of a church, which was named St. Peter as a tribute to Governor Pierre-Benoist Dumas and inaugurated on 7 January 1732. On 11 March 1732, the governor commissioned commander Choppy-Desgranges to design the map of a new town, which was not built until 1735 and the appointment of the new governor, Mahé de la Bourdonnais. The land, in spite of the lack of water, was very suitable for growing coffee, which contributed to the swift development of the settlement.
On 16 April 1736, Gabriel Dejean, Secretary of the Higher Council of the island, marked a big rock with a cross and the letter "A", from which he drew Commerce Street along the river, up to rock "B", located 1,500 m away from rock "A". The other streets were designed according to a square pattern. On 8 September 1736, La Bourdonnais confirmed the founding of the borough of Saint-Pierre, whose development was conducted by Dejean; Saint-Pierre became a municipality on 1 August 1790. Already planned in 1818, the Saint- Étienne Canal, providing water from the river of the same name located 17 km away, was achieved in 1825.

There are some 1,000 farms in Saint-Pierre, representing 10% of the farms of the island. Coffee was progressively superseded by sugarcane, whose yield is locally higher than the average on the island thanks to the irrigation system set up in 1970. Sugarcane is grown on 3,455 ha, representing 75% of the farms of Saint-Pierre.

Source: Municipal website

Saint-Pierre is the birth town of the handballer Jackson Richardson (b. 1969), member of the French team that won the World Championships in 1995 and 2001 and standard bearer for the French team in the Athens Olympics in 2004.
An even more famous child of Saint-Pierre is Valérie Bègue (b. 1985), elected Miss France in 2008. Short after the election, Geneviève de Fontenay, the stainless president of the Miss France Committee, revealed that Val&ecute;rie Bègue had modelled for "outrageous" photos and asked here to bring back her crown. Widely supported on the island, Val&ecute;rie Bègue did not give up and found an agreement with Mme de Fontenay: she would keep her crown and title but would not be allowed to compete for Miss Universe and Miss World and to take part to the regional miss' galas in France.

Ivan Sache, 10 February 2009

Flag of Saint-Pierre

The flag of Saint-Pierre, as displayed in front of the town hall - a beautiful old building of the Compagnie des Indes -, is white with the municipal arms and the writing "Ville de Saint-Pierre".

The arms of Saint-Pierre, adopted on 5 September 1965, are presented on the municipal website as follows:

Three gold keys on red background, the chief surmounted by a gold crown of 5 towers, the lower part bearing a white caravelle [with sails in gold], symbol of the 300-years old settlement on the island, on a blue background. On each side are sugar canes, the main wealth of the island, and beneath the motto Fortes Fortuna Fortior (Force Luck Fortune)

The description is heraldically not correct and the motto has been mistranslated; it should be understood as "Chance makes the brave stronger".

Olivier Touzeau, 5 February 2009