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Cluses (Municipality, Haute-Savoie, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: haute-savoie | cluses | faucigny |
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[Flag of Cluses]

Flag of Cluses - Image by Ivan Sache, 27 March 2007

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Presentation of Cluses

The municipality of Cluses (18,126 inhabitants in 1999; 1,045 ha; 485 m a.s.l.) is located in the Northern Alps in the valley of Arve, 40 km south-west of Geneva and 60 km north-west of Annecy. Cluses is made of several boroughs: Cluses downtown, the Villages (the hamlets of Pressy, Nanty, Ponthior, Marzan, Noiret, Fresney and Curzeille), Messy, La Sardagne and Les Ewées.

Cluses developed around a bridge built in the Middle Ages on the Arve at the entrance of a cluse. A cluse is a transversal valley dug by a river through a mountain and often enlarged later by a glacier, typical from the Alps and Jura; a cluse allows communication between two valleys without crossing a pass and is often the place of a village, such as Cluses, La Clusaz, La Cluse.
The valley lived from mountain agriculture until 1720, when Claude-Joseph Ballaloud introduced watch-making in Cluses. Several family workshops were set up to supply the big watch-makers of Geneva. The skills of the Cluses workers was recognized with the foundation of the Royal School of Watch-making in 1848 (Cluses then belonged to the Kigdom of Piedmont and Sardinia). Progressively, the workshops diversified their production and manufactured any kind of metal piecework; this was the beginning of the décolletage industry. Décolletage (aka micromechanics) is the mass production of small pieces by turning and machining. The first product of décolletage was the screw, made from a metal bar whose section was decreased by turning; the last operation was the removal of the collar, in French collet, therefore the name of décolletage. The region of Cluses, known today as Technic Valley, has more than 800 SMEs involved in subcontracting, being therefore the biggest industrial district in France and producing 65% of the national décolletage production. Décolletage represents in the valley some 10,000 direct jobs, that is more than 30% of employment in the Region Rhône-Alpes. In 2000, the sector had a turnover of 12 billions francs.

The swimmer Catherine (Cathy) Plewinski (b. 1968) was member of the CN Cluses-Scionzier. She was one of the few Western swimmers able to win international competitions during the "rule" of the swimmers from East Germany. In the 1989 Europe Championships, she won the 50 m free style and the 100 m butterfly, while the Eastern Germans won all the other titles; she kept her title on 100 m butterfly in 1991 and 1993. Cathy Plewinsky won another four European and three World medals, as well as two Olympic bronze medals (100 m free style in Seoul, 1988; 100 m butterfly in Barcelona, 1992). She was the best French swimmer ever until the recent emergence of Laure Manaudou.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 27 March 2007

Flag of Cluses

Cluses uses a flag vertically divided yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow-red (six stripes). This is also the flag of the traditional province of Faucigny, whose main towns are Bonneville and Cluses.

According to the Armorial des communes de la Haute-Savoie, the arms of Cluses are those of the province of Faucigny, originally those of the feudal family of Faucigny. The oldest known depiction of the arms of Cluses dates back to 7 March 1580, on a seal attached to letters de bourgeoisie; they are also painted on letters de bourgeoisie granted by the municipality to Gaspard Descrest on 4 June 1653. Curiously, the mandement (religious division) of Cluses bore completely different arms: according to the description of the funeral of the Duke of Savoy Charles-Amédée (1659) kept in thechapter's registers of the collegiate Notre-Dame-de-Liesse in Annecy, the arms of the mandement of Cluses were une croix d'or en champ d'argent, argent a cross or.

The flag used in Cluses can represent both the town and Faucigny. Several other small towns and villages in the region uses the flag of Faucigny, for instance Samoêns, Taninges and Mieussy.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 27 March 2007