The history of Gennevilliers

THE COMPANY HISTORY : The Gennevilliers Historical Society research and writes books, participates in exhibitions about the history of the city and its surroundings. Public promotion of the history of Gennevilliers and its inhabitants. (Coordinates end)

Short history of Gennevilliers

The origin of the name: it comes from the name of a character called Frankish origin Gane and villare, which means rural domain. Another hypothesis would come from the Merovingian gane, gene or Genne meaning enclave, the topographical situation of Gennevilliers, enclosed in a loop of the Seine, could accredit this release.

In 1302, the parish of Gennevilliers, which depends on the Abbey of Saint Denis emancipated from the parish of Asnieres to which it was bound.

at 15th century civil war between Armagnacs and Burgundians will tragically mark the peninsula of Gennevilliers ravaged by the soldiers of both sides and the hordes of bandits taking advantage of the disorder caused by the conflict. This is undoubtedly to defend themselves from the hordes reconstructed what the tithe barn in 1420 with 2 hectares. This barn harvested taxes in kind villages of Asnieres, Colombes and Courbevoie. Conflicts there are the major floods of the Seine and diseases like the plague villages empty of its population. dearth periods occur regularly.

To 18th century, the Duke of Richelieu marshal. Vignerot Armand du Plessis, is the nephew of Cardinal. It is one of the great characters at once brilliant and most dubious for the Regency. Officer of the Royal captaincy hunts whose territory is part of Gennevilliers, in 1749 he bought a large estate in Gennevilliers. He built a large mansion that after much work becomes a castle. Senior figures come visit him, King Louis XV with Queen Marie Lézinska Etienne François Choiseul, Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1768 will buy Corsica to the Genoese and Louis Philippe d'Orleans, the future Philippe Egalité.

In this castle will unfold historic. September 26, 1783, after many adventures, held the first public performance of "Marriage of Figaro" whose spirit and irony at the service of new ideas announce the Revolution to all who love justice and freedom. "Figaro killed the nobility," declared Danton. The Count of Artois, brother of Louis XVI and future Charles X attends this representation.

After the Revolution several owners succeed and leave the building abandoned. Transformed into school, it was requisitioned at the start of the 1914-18 war to make an infirmary. From this castle that remains today a common building at the corner of Avenue Jean Jaurès and Rue Carnot.

Another noble military character of its state, which will establish a residence there are only common dubbed "Clock Farm": the Coustard Marshal Saint Lô. This noble embraced the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment took part in the Revolution and was disgraced by Louis XVI and Napoleon because of his philosophical ideas.

During the revolutionary empire and that of the first period, five mayors succeed. The first is Jean Honoré Briffault, farmer owner whose descendant still lives in Gennevilliers. Among others, two names stand at the end of December 1794, which Clement Jean Baptiste Manet, attorney at law and in Gennevilliers owner and is appointed mayor. It is the great grandfather of the painter Edouard Manet. A few years later in September 1806 his son Clement, a magistrate, becomes first municipal elected official. He remained until his death in 1814.

at 19th Century's daily Gennevillois resembles that of previous centuries. Agriculture and livestock are the main activities of the owners. But the hard and exhausting work is always done in the day, the small farmer. The 1870 war disrupts this relative tranquility.

In February 1871 the refugees return in Gennevilliers and find a devastated village.

An agricultural event will transform arable land Gennevilliers spreading. It's Alfred Durand-Claye, engineer in charge of water and sanitation service in the city of Paris, which directs the work of spreading Gennevilliers. Started October 12, 1868 they ended 1st June 1869. Interrupted during the war of 1870, spreading again in 1872. So will develop in this area Grésillons and in much of the territory of Gennevilliers vegetable farms. One of vegetables grown by this method, will have some celebrity: leek of Gennevilliers. Always cultivated nowadays, but in other areas, the crop averaged 25 tons per year and made our country the first European producer.

One can not speak of 19th century in Gennevilliers not to mention the Impressionists.

Edouard Manet, great-son of the first mayor of Gennevilliers in 1794, leader of impressionism, often stays in Gennevilliers to paint outdoors with his friends the Seine. Eugene brother Edward married in 1874 Marie Pauline Morisot. In 1871 she comes in Gennevilliers where she painted a "wheat field in Gennevilliers". Another Impressionist painter will give some renown in Gennevilliers Gustave Caillebotte. Shipbuilding architect, he set up his studio on the banks of the Seine at Petit Gennevilliers. Patron of the Impressionists he buys a large number of tables, Advisor of Gennevilliers, he divides his time between painting, yachting and generous and paternal administration Petit Gennevilliers, where many facilities are installed at its expense. In 1894, struck by a stroke, he died at his home in Gennevilliers.

At the end of 19th Century restores the Mary Magdalene church built in 17th century and restored several times, the castle park, moat and trees. South of the city, spreading gives birth to a village, the Grésillons. The hamlet of Villeneuve is booming.

At Gennevilliers it over there 4OO growersMost belong to old families gennevilloises. They grow alternately on the same land, beet, wheat, oats or alfalfa and have a few acres of grassland for the cattle in the barn and a piece of vine. Others cultivate rye and also wheat, oats and flax. There are also sixty gardeners. They are gardeners who grow in large vegetables. At Gennevilliers, they use the application, while other water their vegetables with water from the well or tank on the roof. They sell their produce on the floor of the Halles, leeks, including the famous leek of Gennevilliers, onions, cabbage, asparagus, potatoes, artichokes, green beans, peas, sorrel, parsley and various other firsts.

On January 1900, runs the tramway called "Serpollet *" the name of the inventor of instant steam boiler. The industrial age will gradually displace all these trades. Undeveloped and very extensive grounds on Gennevilliers are that the cost per hectare is one of the lowest in the Paris region. This will facilitate rapid establishment of businesses. For development we will have to open up the peninsula. Building bridges of Saint-Denis and the arrival of the train will contribute. On North-Ermont Gare online Gennevilliers has two stations, one in the Grésillons and one another on the road to Epinay. The latter, a major freight railway station and the railway line will enable the establishment of large industrial companies. GAS PLANT whose construction began in 1904 and ended in 1906 is one of the most powerful in Europe. The company GNOMEInstalled at Petit Gennevilliers in 1895 is headed by engineer Louis Seguin and his brother. In 1897 Louis SEGUIN manufactures aircraft engine called "Gnome" and in 1905 gave its name to the company created by this engineer. Factory Chenard and Walker. Ernest Chenard is an engineer considered one of the pioneers of the automobile. With his friend WALKER that brings capital, they founded in 1895 in Asnieres an institution that is too narrow. In 1908 they moved to Gennevilliers. In 1913, the company "The Carbon" buys land plots from old Duke of Richelieu marshal of the palace garden. Workshops open in June 1914. The 200 workers produce carbon.

For manufacturers, the desire to have a workforce committed to the company led to the leasing of buildings and groups of collective use buildings. In this spirit in 1925 a large building is built rue Arbre Sec, another boulevard d'Epinay. But the biggest project is that of all dwellings of the "City Gardens" which begins in 1923 and ends in 1937.

In the early thirties, Gennevilliers looks to the future while remaining faithful to its traditions and its past. But these are also the years following the Great Depression of 1929. The population gennevilloise seriously affected by unemployment will have to take its destiny in hand. The 1934 elections will profoundly change the political and social landscape of Gennevilliers.

  • During World War II, Jean Grandel first PCF mayor elected in 1934 with a left municipality, was shot by the Nazis in October 1941 in Chateaubriant. Over seventy Gennevillois pay with their lives their patriotism and devotion to freedom.
  • After the war, Waldeck L'Huillier, mayor from the team of Jean Grandel and Resistance, Gennevilliers adopts a general development plan (one of the first at the time). The Municipality had built so many modern housing that structure several large neighborhoods and give a new face to the city.

Another source of information: "The siege of Paris in 1870 in Gennevilliers" Pierre Appy, specifications of Gennevilliers Historical Society.
"Story of a City" collection of articles edited by Georges Quiqueré the city of Gennevilliers and published in Gen'Mag municipal review.

Text summarized by HC Bonnet president of the Historical Society of Gennevilliers.

* Leon Serpollet (October 4, 1858 in Culoz - February 1, 1907 in Paris) is a French industrial, automotive pioneer, builder of the first industrial steam car. This is the land of a certain Mrs. Marzak, who donated it to the City of Paris, Leon Serpollet realized his experiments which led to the creation of the flash boiler (1881), and steam tricycle ( 1887). He launched later successfully in the automotive adventure, its cars are the first to reach 120km / h!

Historical Society of Gennevilliers

The Gennevilliers Historical Society research and writes books, participates in exhibitions about the history of the city and its surroundings. Public promotion of the history of Gennevilliers and its inhabitants.

Association headquarters

News Archive Service
177, avenue Gabriel Peri
92230 Gennevilliers
Founding President, Georges Quiqueré (1921-2009)


President :
Henri-Claude Bonnet
Sylviane Pasquet
Such. : 01 47 94 34 41

By mail :
Henri-Claude Bonnet
31, rue Georges Sand
92230 Gennevilliers

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Spreading fields sewers of Paris from the 19th to the 20th century, Gennevilliers has become a modern city, caring and daring.

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