Last modified: 2004-07-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: calvados | villers-sur-mer |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Villers-sur-Mer (2,300 inhabitants in winter, 25,000 in
summertime) is a sea resort located on the Channel, between Deauville and Houlgate.The name of the city indicates a Roman origin, which is corroborated by
archeological findings (remains of a fortified camp and a Roman way). It
is said that William the (not yet) Conqueror passed through Villers in
1066 to go to Dives, where he set up his fleet. The village increased
in the XVII-XVIIIth centuries with the building of several farms and a castle.
During the Second Empire, the sea resort of Villers was "invented" by the
architect Félix Pigeory and the journalist Pierre Pitre Chevalier, then
editor-in-chief of the Figaro. Among the rich families which settled
in Villers, the Demachy, Napoléon III's bankers, built the San Carlo
castle. The Countess of Béarn, born Demachy, dedicated herself to the
city of Villers during the First World War. The pharmacist Mariani, who
invented in the XIXth century a tonic prefiguring Coca-Cola, also built
a big villa in Villers.
Villers had successively nine casinos and attracted members of the intelligentsia such as the diva Marthe Chenal, the musicians Alfred Bruneau and Charles Koechlin, the painters Paul Huet, Constant Troyant and Eugène Boudin, and the physicist Louis Armand.
Villers-sur-Mer was liberated on 22 August 1944 by the Belgian brigade commanded by general Piron.
The main monument of Villers-sur-Mer is a small stele materializing the "entrance" of the Greenwich meridian on the French territory. The meridian is shown by a blue line, so that you can be photographed "riding" the meridian.
The beach of Villers ends in the foot of the Black Cow Cliffs
(Falaises des Vaches Noires). The black cows are big rocks which fell
down from the cliff down to the beach. The cliffs are extremely rich in
The cliffs spread on five kilometers between Villers and Houlgate, including part of the municipal territory of Auberville and Gonneville. On 2 February 1995, a decree of the Ministry of Environment put the cliffs on the register of "places of scientific and landscape significance in the department of Calvados". Therefore, the whole are is protected: picking up fossiles on the seashore is permitted, but any excavation is prohibited (and extremely hazardous), except for limited sampling with scientific aim. Fossiles found in the cliffs can be seen in the paleontological museum of Villers.
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 11 January 2004
The flag of Villers-sur-Mer is made of the municipal logotype. The motto La mer en pays d'Auge means "The sea in pays d'Auge", the pays d'Auge being the area limited by the river Touques and Dive, mostly known for cheese (les trois du pays d'Auge : camembert, livarot, pont-l'évêque) and apple-derived products (cider and calvados).
Ivan Sache, 11 January 2004