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Lorient (Municipality, Morbihan, France)

An Orient

Last modified: 2010-03-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: morbihan | lorient | an orient | ship (ermine) | sun (yellow) | ermines: 11 (yellow) | football |
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[Flag of Lorient]

Flag of Lorient - Image by Ivan Sache, after the image shown by Agence Bretagne Presse, 31 October 2009


See also:


Presentation of Lorient

The municipality of Lorient (in Breton, An Orient; 59,264 inhabitants in 2006, therefore the fourth biggest town in Region Brittany after Rennes, Brest and Quimper; 1,748 ha) is located in South Brittany, between Quimper and Vannes.

In 1664, Louis XIV, upon Colbert's advice, founded the Compagnie française pour le commerce des Indes orientales (French Company for the Trade with East India), mostly known as Compagnie des Indes (India Company), which was granted a 50-year monopoly on the Asian spice trade. Two years later, the seat of the company was set up at Port-Louis, a port watched by a Spanish fortress built at the entrance of a wide harbour made by the confluency of rivers Scorff and Blavet. Shipyards were set up at Faouëdic, a place located across the harbour. Among the first vessels launched from Faouëdic, the Soleil d'Orient (Eastern Sun) gave her name of the small settlement that developed around the shipyards, as L'Orient, subsequently Lorient.

A wealthy port involved in the trade of Asian spices, tea, fabric, silk, pieces of porcelaine and lacquerware, Lorient quickly superseded Port-Louis as the headquarters of several shipowners. In 1690, the Royal Navy set up a military administration at Lorient while the Navy shipyards and repairing workshops were transferred to Port-Louis.
The Nine Years' War (1688-1697) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) dramatically decreased traffic in the port. In 1719, the Scottish banker Law saved the India Company from bankrupt; the new India Company was granted a monopoly on trade with French counters in Africa, colonies of Louisiana and in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and China Seas. From 1709 to 1730, the population of Lorient increased from 6,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. Granted the title of town in 1738, Lorient became the sole place of trade of colonial products in France and the headquarters of military shipbuilding. Mignot de Montigny wrote in 1752 "The Company gathers in Lorient its fleet, its troops and the whole of its trade." The loss of the American colonies (1763) and the bankrupt of the India company (1769) did not stop trade in Lorient.
In 1770, the king purchased all the shipyards of Lorient, transformed for military use, while several private shipowners developed trade in the Indian Ocean, The War of American Independence and the opening of the scheduled line Lorient-New York made at that time Lorient one of the four biggest French ports.
An attempt of resurrecting the India company in 1785 was suppressed five years later by the Convention. In 1791, Lorient was declared an exclusive military port.

In the 19th century, the port and arsenal of Lorient were increased by the Navy, which modernized and industrialized shipbuilding. The introduction of inventions made by the naval engineer Henri Dupuy de Lôme (born near Lorient, 1816-1885), such as the screw-propeller and the steel armour-plate for battleships allowed the Lorient shipyards to be among the most innovative in the world. Employement in the shipyards increased from 1,500 in 1830 to 4,000 in 1870.
From 1880 onwards, Lorient developed an industrial fishing activity based on the recently set-up modern fish canning. Tin cans were produced in the neighbouring steelworks of Lochrist while electricity was supplied by river Blavet; the poor hinterland provided as many low- paid workers as required.
Lorient became the the second fishing port on France, and also a main coal-trading port. The population of the town reached 50,000 inhabitants in 1911. On the eve of the Second World War, Lorient was a wealthy military, fishing and commerce port.

In June 1940, following the invasion of France, Admiral Dönitz set up the headquarters of the German Navy in Lorient, transformed into the main base for the submarines scouring the Atlantic Ocean. Targeted by air raids, the Germans decided the building of an underground base. Achieved in 1943, the Lorient base, made of four blockhaus named Kéroman I, II, III and IV, could handle 40 submarines; it was the biggest military building site ever managed by the Nazis outside Germany. In January 1943, Churchill ordered to get rid of the base, so that the civil population of the town was evacuated. One month later, the town of Lorient, hit by more than 4,000 tons of bombs, was destroyed at 85% but the submarine base was hardly damaged. The Germans did not give up and the "Lorient pocket" was eventually liberated on 10 May 1945, two days after the proclamation of the armistice.
The rebuilding of the town, managed by the architect Georges Toury, started in 1943 but was fully completed only in 1964. In contrast to Brest, Le Havre and Saint-Nazaire, the town was rebuilt according to its original plan, with an association of building of "regional" and "modern" inspiration.

The submarine base, left untouched by the Germans, was reused by the French Navy and renamed for the Jacques Stosskopf (1898-1944). Of Alsatian origin, Stosskopf was the main engineer of the Lorient base. Everybody in Lorient, including the Germans, believed he was a zelacious collaborateur of the Nazis and that his leave to Germany in February 1944 was a promotion. In fact, Stosskopf worked for the anti-German resistance network Alliance, to which he had forwarded secrete information on the German submarine mission for four years; he was indeed arrested and tortured by the Gestapo and eventually shot in the Struthof camp on 1 September 1944.
After having housed three generations of French submarines, the Lorient base, deemed obsolete and not suitable for nuclear-powered submarines, was decommissioned on 28 February 1997. Since then, the municipality of Lorient has set up different projects of development, with some parts open to the public (Kéroman III) and other conceded to private companies.

Source: Municipal website, history section.

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2009


Municipal flag of Lorient

The flag of Lorient has been resurrected in October 2009 by Skoazell Diwan - the association funding the Breton-speaking school Diwan of Lorient - , with the technical advice of Mikael Bodloré, Secretary of the vexillological association Bannieloù Breizh. The new flag has been manufactured in 110 copies sold 25 € each.

The flag is horizontally divided blue-red-green, with a white three- master sailing towards a quarter of yellow rising sun behind six white islands, the whole being placed along the hoist. The ship has the sails, the flag and the three masthead pennants charged with ermine spots.
This flag is a modernized version of the legendary flag of Lorient, today known only as a single copy offerred by the municipal administration to the Bagad Sonerien an Orient, which proudly marches behind it in festivals. Shown by P. Rault [rau99] (photo) and D. Kervella and M. Bodloré-Penlaez (drawing) in their respective books on Breton flags, and, most significant, on a photo taken during the Great Parade of Nations of the 2005 Interceltic Festival, the original flag differs from its modern sequel by a few details in the ship equipment and, mostly, by the design and placement of the sun and islands.

The flag is derived from the coat of arms of Lorient, De gueules au vaisseau équipé et habillé d'argent, voguant sur des ondes de sinople mouvant de la pointe, accompagné d'un soleil d'or se levant derrière trois montagnes aussi d'argent au flanc dextre, au franc-canton d'hermine, au chef cousu d'azur semé de besants d'or, translated by Brian Timms as "Gules sinister a three masted sailing ship dexter three mounts argent a sun in his splendour issuant or a champagne wavy vert a canton ermine a chief azure bezanty".
The arms were ascribed by the Armorial Général (1744). The ship, dressed in the Breton ducal colours (ermine plain), is the Soleil d'Orient sailing to the Asian islands and sun (another soleil d'orient). The bezants symbolize trade and cash.

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2009


Lorient Interceltic Festival

Founded in 1971 by Pierrot Guergadic and Jean-Pierre Pichard as a very local event succeeding a Bagpipe Festival ousted from Brest, the Lorient Interceltic Festival (Festival interceltique de Lorient - FIL) is today the biggest Celtic festival in the world, with more than 700,000 visitors each year. Through the 10-day festival organized in August and many other cultural events organized all the year round, the FIL promotes "interceltism", involving the Celtic (cultural) nations (Asturias, Cornwall, Scotland, Brittany, Galicia, Man, Ireland, Wales) and "friend" Celtic nations (Australia and Acadia).
The main event of the August festival is the Great Parade of the Celtic Nations, scheduled on the festival's first Sunday, crossing the town of Lorient up to the Moustoir football stadium, also the place of the "Magic Nights" concerts and of the second big event of the festival, the Brittany Bagad Championship (top league), scheduled on the festival's first Saturday. The parade is opened by the flags of the nations, followed by 3,500 musicians and dancers marching behind the flag of their group. A very popular event, the Parade has been broadcast live on French national TV networks.

The photo report of the 2008 parade, posted by Erminnig Gwenn on Flickr, shows several flags:
- Flag of the Celtic Nations;
- Bagad Sonerien Bro Dreger Perros-Guirec;
- Bagad Keriz (Clichy);
- Bagad Melinerion (with the town flag of Vannes)

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2009


FC Lorient Bretagne Sud

[Flag of FCL]         [Flag of FCL]

FCL supporters' flags - Images by Ivan Sache, 1 November 2010

In 1925, Mrs. Cuissard, a wholesale fish merchant of Lorient, founded the football club "La Mar&ecute;e Sportive" (here, marée means "the fresh fish catch" and not "the tide", as most commonly used), renamed on 2 April 1926 "Football Club Lorientais" (FCL). In 1946-1947, Antoine Cuissard, the grandson of the club's founder, came back from AS Saint- Étienne together with the coach Jean Snella to help FCL, then playing in Honour Division, to reemerge. Playing in a lower league did not prevent Cuissard to play with the French national team, a unique case up to now.
In 1967, FCL adopted the professional status. The club played in the Second League until 1977, when it was relegated to the Third League and got bankrupted. Close to extinction, FCL came back to the Second League in 1985 but was very often relegated. The first year of FCL in First League, 1998, ended with a relegation and money shortage. Back to the First League in 2001, FCL was relegated in 2002 but won the French Cup (1-0 against Bastia) and lost the League's Cup (0-3 against Bordeaux) the same year. FCL has been playing in the First League since 2006.
The legendary coach of FCL is Christian Gourcuff (b. 1955), coach and player in 1982-1986, coach in 1991-2001 and since 2003, also the father of the French international player Yoann Gourcuff (b. 1986).

The colours of FCL are tangerine (in French, tango, a colour also used by Stade Lavallois) and black, and the nickname of the team is Merlus ("Hakes"), referring to the origin of the club. The two supporters' groups ("Merlus Ultras" and "Breizh Tango") mostly use plain tangerine flags and flags horizontally divided tangerine-black- tangerine.
Another tangerine flag is charged with the club's emblem, which shows on a tangerine disk outlined in black a white hake and a football ball, the whole surmonted by the name of the club in black letters.
"Breizh Tango" has its own flag, tangerine with the group's emblem in the middle.

[FC Lorient]

FCL supporters' flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 August 2002

The supporters of FCL have also designed their own version of the Breton Gwen-ha-Du. The designers of the flag have simply used tangerine instead of white. This flag was seen during the match Lorient-Toulouse (EuroSport France, 11 August 2002).

Ivan Sache, 2 November 2009


Yacht clubs in Lorient

Centre Nautique de Lorient

[Flag of CNL]

Burgee of SRL - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 November 2009

Centre Nautique de Lorient (CNL) was founded in 1950 as Société Nautique de Kergroise (SNK) by Adolphe Pierre, a yachtman and ship designer who had refused to compete in the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin. The club took its current name in January 1967.
The burgee of CNL, as shown graphically on the club's website, is blue with the point horizontally divided red-white.

[Flag of CNL]

Flag of SNK, unconfirmed - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 November 2009

A leaflet released by the SNK-CNL shows the graphic representation of what could have been the flag of SNK, red with a swallow-tailed canton horizontally divided blue-white and the white italic letters "SNK" near the bottom of the flag.

Ivan Sache, 2 November 2009


Société des Régates de Lorient

[Flag of SRL]

Flag of SRL - Image by Ivan Sache, 16 October 2001

Société des Régates de Lorient (SRL) does not seem to exist any longer.
Guide Vert Michelin Bretagne, edition 2001, shows a colour plate originally released by the SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine), undated, on which SRL has a nearly square white flag with a canton made of a horizontally divided blue-red-blue, swallow-tailed flag.
The flag in canton is the arrondissement flag, which was hoisted by civil ships registered in Lorient.

Ivan Sache, 16 October 2001

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