Saint-Maur-des-Fossés is a commune
Communes of France
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...

 in the southeastern suburbs of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. It is located 11.7 km. (7.3 miles) from the center of Paris
Kilometre Zero
In many countries, Kilometre Zero or similar terms in other languages, is a particular location , from which distances are traditionally measured...


The abbey

Saint-Maur-des-Fossés owes its name to an abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 founded in 638 by Queen Nanthild
Nanthild , also known as Nantéchilde, Nanthechilde, Nanthildis, Nanthilde, or Nantechildis, was a Frankish queen consort and regent, the third of many consorts of Dagobert I, king of the Franks ....

, regent for her son Clovis II
Clovis II
Clovis II succeeded his father Dagobert I in 639 as King of Neustria and Burgundy. His brother Sigebert III had been King of Austrasia since 634. He was initially under the regency of his mother Nanthild until her death in her early thirties in 642...

, at a place called Fossati in Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

, Les Fossés in modern French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, meaning "the moats". This place, located at the narrow entrance of a loop where the Marne River
Marne River
The Marne is a river in France, a right tributary of the Seine in the area east and southeast of Paris. It is long. The river gave its name to the départements of Haute-Marne, Marne, Seine-et-Marne, and Val-de-Marne....

 made its way round a rocky outcrop, was probably named after the moats of an ancient Celtic oppidum
Oppidum is a Latin word meaning the main settlement in any administrative area of ancient Rome. The word is derived from the earlier Latin ob-pedum, "enclosed space," possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *pedóm-, "occupied space" or "footprint."Julius Caesar described the larger Celtic Iron Age...

 and later a Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

The Latin word castra, with its singular castrum, was used by the ancient Romans to mean buildings or plots of land reserved to or constructed for use as a military defensive position. The word appears in both Oscan and Umbrian as well as in Latin. It may have descended from Indo-European to Italic...

; the site was known in medieval documents as Castrum Bagaudarum, at a time when the marauding Bagaudae
In the time of the later Roman Empire bagaudae were groups of peasant insurgents who emerged during the "Crisis of the Third Century", and persisted particularly in the less-Romanised areas of Gallia and Hispania, where they were "exposed to the depredations of the late Roman state, and the great...

 had developed a legendary reputation as defenders of Christians again Roman persecution. Massive foundations, sited so far from a Roman frontier
A limes was a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome. It marked the boundaries of the Roman Empire.The Latin noun limes had a number of different meanings: a path or balk delimiting fields, a boundary line or marker, any road or path, any channel, such as a stream channel, or any...

, were attributed by C. Jullian to a temple or a villa
Roman villa
A Roman villa is a villa that was built or lived in during the Roman republic and the Roman Empire. A villa was originally a Roman country house built for the upper class...

 instead. In Merovingian times, Gallo-Roman
Gallo-Roman culture
The term Gallo-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman mores and way of life in a uniquely Gaulish context...

 villas in the royal fisc were repeatedly donated as sites for monasteries under royal patronage.

The abbey, dedicated to Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, Saint Paul and the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

, was called Sanctus Petrus Fossatensis in Medieval Latin (Saint Pierre des Fossés in French), meaning "Saint Peter of the Moats". In 868, King Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 invited the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Maur de Glanfeuil (in Le Thoureil
Le Thoureil
Le Thoureil is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France....

, Maine-et-Loire
Maine-et-Loire is a department in west-central France, in the Pays de la Loire region.- History :Maine-et-Loire is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. Originally it was called Mayenne-et-Loire, but its name was changed to Maine-et-Loire in 1791....

, western France), who had fled their abbey due to Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 invasion, to relocate to Saint Pierre des Fossés with their precious relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

s of Saint Maurus
Saint Maurus
Saint Maurus was the first disciple of St. Benedict of Nursia . He is mentioned in St. Gregory the Great's biography of the latter as the first oblate; offered to the monastery by his noble Roman parents as a young boy to be brought up in the monastic life. Four stories involving Maurus recounted...


Later in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the relics of Saint Maurus became very famous as they were supposed to heal gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

 and epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

, and Saint Pierre des Fossés became one of the most famous pilgrimage centers of medieval France. The rededication to Saint Maurus, in which abbey was renamed Saint-Maur-des-Fossés ("Saint Maurus of the Moats"), was justified by the story that during a drought in 1137, prayers to the Virgin and Saints Peter and Paul having been ineffective, prayer to Saint Maur brought the needed rainfall.

The Château de Saint-Maur

The abbey was secularised in 1535, and in 1541, for Cardinal Jean du Bellay
Jean du Bellay
Jean du Bellay was a French cardinal and diplomat, younger brother of Guillaume du Bellay, and bishop of Bayonne in 1526, member of the privy council in 1530, and bishop of Paris in 1532.-Biography:...

, bishop of Paris, the architect Philibert Delorme
Philibert de l'Orme
Philibert DeLorme was a French architect, one of the great masters of the French Renaissance.He was born at Lyon, the son of Jean Delorme, a master mason. At an early age Philibert was sent to Italy to study and was employed there by Pope Paul III...

 designed a château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

 on the site, on four ranges of building around a square central court. Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

 was a frequent visitor, preferring it to the château de Vincennes
Château de Vincennes
The Château de Vincennes is a massive 14th and 17th century French royal castle in the town of Vincennes, to the east of Paris, now a suburb of the metropolis.-History:...

; in 1563 she acquired this "château du Bellay", and substantially rebuilt it. On September 23, 1568, her teenage son, King Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

, issued the Edict of Saint-Maur, which prohibited all religions but Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. It prompted fierce religious intolerance in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and eventually led to the 1572, St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre
The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots , during the French Wars of Religion...

. Building projects at the site were only interrupted by Catherine's death (1589); the château was sold to the Condé family and was eventually completed, and furnished with extensive parterre
A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all...

s, at the end of the seventeenth century.

The Château de Saint-Maur, still in the possession of the Condé, was nationalised during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, emptied of its contents, and its terrains divided up among real-estate speculators. The structure was demolished for the value of its materials; virtually nothing remains.

The village

The little settlement that grew around the abbey, known as Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, developed a market during the thirteenth century. The present territory also includes a formerly distinct village, La Varenne-Saint-Hilaire, against the perimeter of the nearby game preserve of Saint-Hilaire, part of the abbey's domaines.

In 1791, part of the territory of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés was detached and became the commune of La Branche-du-Pont-de-Saint-Maur, later renamed Joinville-le-Pont
Joinville-le-Pont is a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.-History:The commune was created in 1791 under the name La Branche-du-Pont-de-Saint-Maur by detaching its territory from the commune of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés...


After the abbey itself was abandoned, its church providing building materials in the town. During the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, Saint-Maur-des-Fossés was temporarily renamed Vivant-sur-Marne (meaning "Lively upon Marne") in a gesture of rejection of religion.

After the Revolution, the official name of the commune was simply Saint-Maur; it is only in 1897 that "des-Fossés" was re-added to the name, probably to conform to the historical name and also to distinguish Saint-Maur-des-Fossés from other communes of France also called Saint-Maur. In 1924, a few vestiges of the abbey were collected in the newly-established Musée du vieux Saint-Maur.

Famous residents

Among the writers who lived in Saint-Maur are: François Rabelais
François Rabelais
François Rabelais was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs...

, La Rochefoucauld
François de La Rochefoucauld (writer)
François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. The view of human conduct his writings describe has been summed up by the words "everything is reducible to the motive of self-interest", though the term "gently cynical" has also been applied...

, Boileau
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux was a French poet and critic.-Biography:Boileau was born in the rue de Jérusalem, in Paris, France. He was brought up to the law, but devoted to letters, associating himself with La Fontaine, Racine, and Molière...

, Raymond Radiguet
Raymond Radiguet
Raymond Radiguet was a French author whose two novels were noted for their explicit themes and writing style and tone.-Early life:...

, Madame de Sévigné
Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné
Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné was a French aristocrat, remembered for her letter-writing. Most of her letters, celebrated for their wit and vividness, were addressed to her daughter.-Life:...

, Madame de La Fayette
Marie-Madeleine Pioche de la Vergne, comtesse de la Fayette
Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette , better known as Madame de La Fayette, was a French writer, the author of La Princesse de Clèves, France's first historical novel and one of the earliest novels in literature.- Life :Christened Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, she was...

, Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, , born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world...

 and ‘Quo Vadis
Quo Vadis (novel)
Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero, commonly known as Quo Vadis, is a historical novel written by Henryk Sienkiewicz in Polish. Quo vadis is Latin for "Where are you going?" and alludes to the apocryphal Acts of Peter, in which Peter flees Rome but on his way meets Jesus and asks him why he...

’ author Henryk Sienkiewicz
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz was a Polish journalist and Nobel Prize-winning novelist. A Polish szlachcic of the Oszyk coat of arms, he was one of the most popular Polish writers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905 for his...


The first president of Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 after independence, Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the first president of Senegal . Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. Before independence, he founded the political party called the Senegalese...

, taught at Saint-Maur’s lycée
Secondary education in France
In France, secondary education is in two stages:* collèges cater for the first four years of secondary education from the ages of 11 to 14...

 Marcelin Berthelot and the first lady of Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Moufida Bourguiba
Moufida Bourguiba
Moufida Bourguiba , Moufida Bourguiba (مفيدة بورقيبة), (born Mathilde Lorrain) Moufida Bourguiba (مفيدة بورقيبة), (born Mathilde Lorrain) (1890 in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés France – 15 November 1976 in Monastir. She was the first wife of the President of Tunisia Habib Bourguiba and the first...

, was born here in 1890.

Crooner is an American epithet given to male singers of pop standards, mostly from the Great American Songbook, either backed by a full orchestra, a big band or by a piano. Originally it was an ironic term denoting an emphatically sentimental, often emotional singing style made possible by the use...

 Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet was a French singer and songwriter, most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s, though his career continued through the 1990s...

, whose ‘La Mer
La Mer (song)
Trenet wrote the lyrics of "La Mer" on a train in 1943 while travelling along the French Mediterranean coast, returning from Paris to Narbonne. He supposedly wrote the song in ten minutes, on toilet paper supplied by SNCF. He was assisted with the tune by Leo Chauliac. It was originally published...

’ has been recorded 400 times (notably as ‘Beyond The Sea
Beyond the Sea (song)
"Beyond the Sea" is a 1946 contemporary pop song with music taken from the song "La Mer" by Charles Trenet and lyrics by Jack Lawrence.Trenet had composed "La Mer" with French lyrics totally different and unrelated to the English language version that Lawrence composed...

’ by Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin , born Walden Robert Cassotto, was an American singer, actor and musician.Darin performed in a range of music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, folk and country...

), was a longtime resident: the bronze hat at the foot of the lovers' statue on the Quai Winston Churchill is dedicated to him. Other French stars who have lived in Saint-Maur include Vanessa Paradis
Vanessa Paradis
Vanessa Chantal Paradis is a French singer, model and actress. She became a child star at 14 with the worldwide success of her single "Joe le taxi"...

, Françoise Hardy
Françoise Hardy
Françoise Madeleine Hardy is a French singer, actress and astrologer. Hardy is an iconic figure in fashion, music and style. She is married to the singer and movie actor Jacques Dutronc.-Biography:...

, Raymond Devos
Raymond Devos
Raymond Devos was a Belgian-French humorist, stand-up comedian and clown. He is best known for his sophisticated puns and surreal humour.- Early life :...

, Michel Jonasz
Michel Jonasz
Michel Jonasz is a French composer-songwriter, singer and actor. His compositions include: La boîte de jazz, Joueurs de blues and Les vacances au bord de la mer....

, Eddy Mitchell
Eddy Mitchell
Eddy Mitchell is a French singer and actor. He began his career in the late 1950s, with the group Les Chaussettes Noires , taking his name from the American expatriate tough-guy actor Eddie Constantine...

, Khaled
Khaled (musician)
Khaled Hadj Ibrahim , better known as Khaled, is a raï singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born in Sidi El Houari in Oran Province of Algeria...

, Natalie Dessay
Natalie Dessay
Natalie Dessay is a French coloratura soprano. She dropped the silent "h" in her first name in honor of Natalie Wood when she was in grade school and subsequently simplified the spelling of her surname outside France...

, and Marthe Mercadier
Marthe Mercadier
Marthe Mercadier is an actress born on October 23, 1928.She was named Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2007.In 2011 she will be participating in Danse avec les stars .-Reference:*...


However, it is Jacques Tati
Jacques Tati
Jacques Tati was a French filmmaker, working as a comedic actor, writer and director. In a poll conducted by Entertainment Weekly of the Greatest Movie Directors Tati was voted the 46th greatest of all time...

 for whom Saint-Mauriens hold the strongest affection. The quirky moviemaker filmed much of his 1958 "My Uncle" ("Mon Oncle
Mon Oncle
Mon Oncle is a 1958 film comedy by French filmmaker Jacques Tati. The first of Tati's films to be released in colour, Mon Oncle won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Special Prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign...

"), in Saint-Maur, using many of the locals as extras. It went on to win the best foreign language film Oscar. In Place de la Pelouse stands a bronze statue of Tati as Monsieur Hulot
Monsieur Hulot
Monsieur Hulot is a character created and played by French comic Jacques Tati for a series of films in the 1950s and '60s, namely Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot , Mon Oncle , Play Time and Trafic...

 talking to a boy, in a pose echoing the movie’s poster.

Writer Liam Connolly works at an academy here.


Saint-Maur-des-Fossés is almost entirely surrounded by a loop of the Marne River
Marne River
The Marne is a river in France, a right tributary of the Seine in the area east and southeast of Paris. It is long. The river gave its name to the départements of Haute-Marne, Marne, Seine-et-Marne, and Val-de-Marne....




Saint-Maur-des-Fossés is served by four stations on Paris RER line A
The RER A is one of the five lines in the RER rapid transit system serving :Paris, France.The line runs from the western terminuses Saint-Germain-en-Laye , Cergy Le Haut , and Poissy to the eastern terminuses Boissy-Saint-Léger and Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy .* First inauguration: 12 December 1969*...

: Saint-Maur – Créteil
Saint-Maur – Créteil (Paris RER)
Saint-Maur – Créteil is a railway station in the commune of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, Val-de-Marne.-History:Saint-Maur – Créteil opened in its current form as an RER station on 14 December 1969 as part of the initial segment of the RER network with trains to Nation in central Paris and...

, Le Parc de Saint-Maur, Champigny, and La Varenne – Chennevières.


Saint-Maur-des-Fossés organize a Short Subject
Short subject
A short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all...

Festival. Prizes (2008) : "The Note" by Jon Greenhalgh
and Anne-Elisabeth Blateau as best actress.

External links

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