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Clichy-sous-Bois (Municipality, Seine-Saint-Denis, France)

Last modified: 2017-09-09 by ivan sache
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Flag of Clichy-sous-Bois, two versions - Images by Pascal Vagnat, 4 December 2011, and Olivier Touzeau, 19 May 2017, respectively

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Presentation of Clichy-sous-Bois

The municipality of Clichy-sous-Bois (29,127 inhabitants in 2008; 395 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km east of Paris. "sous-Bois" (under the woods) recalls that 1/4 of the municipal territory is covered with woods. The Bondy Regional Forest (170 ha) is partially located in Clichy; together with other smaller woods, it is the last remaining part (400 ha) of the former Bondy Forest. In the Middle Ages, the Bondy Forest was a den of rascals; in French, the expression forêt de Bondy is sometimes used as a metaphor for a no-go area.

Clichy-sous-Bois emerged in the Middle Ages as a small village located in the Aulnoy region, therefore its original name of Clichy-en-Aulnoy. The village belonged to the lords of Livry and was the seat of a commandry of the Knight Templars. A popular pilgrimage blossomed at the Our Lady of the Angels chapel, celebrating a miracle that had occurred centuries earlier: three traders from Angers attacked by rascals and tied each to a tree were miraculously released by the Blessed Virgin.
The woods around the village, rich in game, attracted nobilities fond of hunting, who built hunting manors nearby. In the 17th century, the main landlord in Clichy was Jean-Jacques de Mesmes (1640-1688), Count of Avaux and President at the Paris Parliament. Tsar of Russia Alexander I enjoyed staying in one of these manors during the occupation of Paris in 1814.

In 1820, the village hardly had 150 inhabitants; it was renamed Clichy- sous-Bois in 1851 and remained a small rural village until 1955, when urbanization started slowly. In 1960, the architect Bernard Zehrfuss (1911-1996), designer of the the seat of UNESCO in Paris, designed an ambitious urbanization plan, based on the principles of the modern movement, "Space, Light, Nature". Out of the 10,000 flats planned, only 1,600 were built in Clichy and 1,500 in the neighboring town of Montfermeil. Connection of the two towns with the main road network was not achieved either, resulting in a dismantled, locked urban environment. In the next decades, up to the 1990s, most of the municipal territory of Clichy was built with housing estates (grands ensembles), leaving only 20% of the territory (two wards) built with individual houses (pavillons).

In the 2000s, Clichy-sous-Bois appeared as a typical suburban town with a young population (40% of the inhabitants are less than 20 years old) and more than 100 nationalities represented. These towns, mostly located in the north and east of Paris, were collectively labelled as "suburbs" (banlieue) and conveniently presented as no-go areas where even the police would not come.
On 27 October 2005, three teenagers attempting to escape a police control hid in an electric substation; two of them died by electrocution, the third one was severely injured. This event was the start of unprecedented urban violence, sometimes labelled "urban riots" (not to mention the "breakout of the French civil war" pimped by FoxNews) that spread to several French towns and, mostly, to their suburbs. Accordingly, the state of emergency was proclaimed in 25 departments from 8 November 2005 to 4 January 2006.

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2011

Flag of Clichy-sous-Bois

The flag of Clichy-sous-Bois (TV images, 28 October 2005) hoisted in front of the town hall, is white with the municipal coat of arms.

The arms of Clichy-sous-Bois (image) are "Per pale vert and argent a cinquefoil counterchanged a chief gules a cross patty fitchy voided surrounded by two grapevine plants all argent." The shield is surmounted by a crown or with flowers vert and supported by two genets proper. Below the shield are four elongated oak leaves vert tied to a post horn or.
The green color and the cinquefoil recall the Bondy forest. The cross recalls the Knight Templars while the post horn recalls hunting.

An alternative flag can be seen in use during events, white with the municipal logo (photo).

Pascal Vagnat & Olivier Touzeau, 19 May 2017