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Arques (Municipality, Pas-de-Calais, France)

Last modified: 2005-02-19 by
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[Flag of Arques]by Arnaud Leroy

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Presentation of Arques

Arques (9,457 inhabitants, 2,241 ha) is an industrial city located in the middle of the triangle Lille-Dunkirk-Boulogne, in the North of France.

The name of Arques probably comes from Latin arces, citadel. There are other places named Arques in France, for instance in Languedoc (with a former Cathar castle), in Rouergue and in Normandy (Arques-la-Bataille, named after the victory of Henri IV over the duke of Mayenne in 1589).

Arques is famous all over the world thanks to the crystal glassworks (Cristallerie d'Arques, now Arc International), founded by the Durand family in 1825, upon request of the Bordeaux winemakers. In the beginning, the production of glassware was traditional, home-scaled. In 1930, Jacques Durand traveled to the USA and changed completely the production system towards a large-scale industry. Today, Arc International hires 13,000 workers and produces more than 1,000 tons of glass per day. Jean-Jacques Durand is ranked among the top ten richest people in France. The Arques factory was a good example of the patriarchal capitalism that developed in France in the XIXth century. I spent a couple of weeks in a farm near Arques for practical training in 1983-4, and I remember the veneration the farm workers had for "Grand'pa" Durand (probably the modernizer of the factory); they said (and believed) that "Grand'pa" personally knew all of the 10,000 workers of his factory!

Another industrial success of Arques was the boat lift of Fontinettes. Arques was in the past an important river port, located on the junction of the river Aa (highly estimated by the French crossworld-puzzle enthusiasts, along with the lake of Oo and the cities of Eu and Is) and the canal of Neuffossée, which links the Aa to the Lys (Leie in Belgian Flanders). The junction required the crossing of five locks, with a difference in height of 13.13 m, causing huge traffic jams. In 1888, the locks were suppressed and a boat lift was set up. The canal boats were placed into two compartments filled up with water and fixed on two huge pistons constituting a kind of hydraulic scales: one of the compartment was lifted up whereas the other was pushed down. The boat lift was replaced in 1967 by a single big lock, which can "absorb" six boats in 20 minutes.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 31 March 2004

Municipal flag of Arques

The flag of Arques, as confirmed to Pascal Vagnat by the PR department of the municipality, is white with the municipal logotype.

Ivan Sache, 31 March 2004

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