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Mandelieu-La Napoule (Municipality, Alpes-Maritimes, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-19 by ivan sache
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Flag of Mandelieu-La Napoule, current and former versions - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 16 February 2021

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Presentation of the Mandelieu-La Napoule

The municipality of Mandelieu-la-Napoule (21,836 inhabitants in 2108; 3,214 ha; municipal website) is located between Cannes and Fréjus.
While La Napoule had been detached from Fréjus and incorporated to Mandelieu by the Law of 6 July 1836, upon the request of its inhabitants, the municipality was officially renamed to Mandelieu-La Napoule only on 6 December 1970. In 1929,

  • Théoule-sur-Mer was separated from Mandelieu to form an independent municipality.

    Mandelieu was first mentioned in the 4th century in a document written by Hilarius, second abbot of Lérins, recalling that "Eucher, lord of Mandolucco [...], follower of St. Honorat's virtue, retired in Lero [Sainte-Marguerite island]". The name of the village, also written Mandeluec, Mantolvocus, Mandolocus and Manduolocus indicates a place (Latin, locus) of command (old French, mandement, subsequently increased to commandement). The feudal domain of Mandelieu included Avignonet, the site of a castle and village suppressed by Henry of Turenne in 1387; Epulia (La Napoule), a small fishers' port, where the lords of Avignonet built a new castle and transferred their village; Théole (Théoule), a port enjoyed by the seamen because of the freshwater source flowing directly into the sea; and Les Termes, a hamlet named for the border stones (terme meaning here "a limit") that delimited the jurisdictions of the chapter of Grasse, of the abbey of Lérins and of the bishopric of Fréjus. Les Termes became the center of today's Mandelieu after the building of the new Town Hall in 1929.

    In the 16th century, Mandelieu, located close to the border between Provence and Savoy, therefore between the kingdom of France and the German Empire, was often involved in war episodes. La Napoule was burned down by Barbarossa in 1530. On 25 July 1536, the villagers from Mandelieu, La Napoule and Théoule blocked the troops of Emperor Charles V. Another Imperial troop, made of 5,000 men, was defeated in 1543 by the villagers, commanded by their lord, John II of Villeneuve. On 14 October 1590, duke Charles-Emmanuel of Savoy attempted to seize the castle; after five days of unsuccessful siege, the duke eventually resumed his way to Fréjus. The castle of Mandelieu and the neighboring houses were eventually destroyed by the duke of Savoy in 1707.

    At the end of the 19th century, winter tourism developed on the Riviera, with the inauguration of the railway in 1864. Mandelieu became a famous resort with the Old Course golf green (1891), a polo field and a horse track. In 1909, Mandelieu was visited by Armand Fallières, president of the Republic, and his ministers, while the cornerstone of the new port of La Napoule was inaugurated by grand duke Michel of Russia.
    Mandelieu is the birth place of Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1938), Chief of the Imperial House of Brazil and one of the two claimants to the throne, as Luís I.

    The cultivation of mimosa (not a botanical Mimosa species, but Acacia dealbata Link, aka silver wattle) on the slopes of neighboring Mt. Tanneron dramatically increased the fame and income of Mandelieu, self-styled the "Capital of Mimosa". The introduction of mimosa from Australia is credited either to the duke of Vallombrosa or lord Brougham, who "invented" Cannes as a posh winter resort. The local horticulturists quickly grew mimosa, which was already sold in Paris in the beginning of the 20th century. Mimosa culture completely superseded the traditional cultivation of jasmine and citrus. On 13 January 1929, a frost event killed all the trees, which were quickly replanted. On 16 February 1931, the Mimosa Festival celebrated the first blossom of the new trees; the festival has been celebrated every year in February since then. The harsh winter 1956 killed again most mimosas, whose cultivation was concentrated on the southern slopes of Mt. Tanneron. Compared to other, competing exotic flowers, mimosa flowers suffered from their very short conservation time, which was increased to eight days by a miraculous powder invented in 1967. Alas, the revamped mimosa industry was suppressed once again in 1970 by a big arson, followed next year by a severe winter. From the 100 mimosa producers registered in Mandelieu, only 8 were still in business in 2000, organized in a cooperative system.

    Au jardin]

    The American sculptor Henry Clews (1876-1937), "a poor little rich boy turned artist" according to Time, 31 July 1939), emigrated in 1914 to Paris to join Auguste Rodin's circle; he purchased in 1916 the ruins of the castle of La Napoule and restored the buildings, while his wife Marie Elsie Whelen Goelet redesigned the park. In 1951, Marie Clews set up the La Napoule Arts Foundation, which manages the castle transformed into a museum and an international artists' residence.

    Ivan Sache, 24 September 2011

    Flag of Mandelieu-La Napoule

    The flag of Mandelieu-La Napoule (photo, video) is vertically divided yellow over green from the upper hoist to the lower fly, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, "Per fess, 1. Or a saltire gules, 2. Vert a squirrel argent". An earlier, simpler flag (TV images, 22 September 2011), was vertically divided green-yellow.

    The arms were ascribed to the town in the Armorial Général. After the town had failed to register its arms, either because it had none or, most probably, to avoid paying the registration fee, the heraldists of the Armorial invented convenient arms, which, of course, have no particular historical or local meaning.

    , Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 16 February 2021