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Tende (Municipality, Alpes-Maritimes, France)


Last modified: 2003-07-05 by ivan sache
Keywords: alpes-maritimes | tende | tenda |
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[Flag of Tende]by Ivan Sache

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Presentation of the city

Tende (Italian, Tenda) is a village of c. 2,000 inhabitants. Tende is the main village of the upper valley of the river Roya, which remained Italian until 1947. The area around Tende, in the Mercantour/Argentera mountains, was the prefered hunting place of the Italian kings, and were therefore not incorporated to France in 1860 with Savoy and the rest of the County of Nice. On 12 October 1947, the treaty of peace between France and Italy incorporated the upper valley of Roya to France. Since then, the border between the two countries is the same as the geographical border constituted by the watershed.

Located 816 m a.s.l., Tende is the last French village before theborder, and commands the acccess to Cuneo, in Piedmont, via the pass (1,871 m) of Tende, now replaced with a road and railway tunnel. The railway line Nice-Cuneo-Torino was destroyed during the Second World War and was reopened only in the 1980s.

Tende is one of the starting points for treks into the extraordinary Vallée des Merveilles, world-renowed for its wild landscapes and its prehistorical rock engravings, whose symbolics is still a matter of speculation among specialists. Due to an increase in vandalism and looting - some "tourists" used to colour the engravings with ink to have more contrast on their pictures, and there was even an attempt to "steal" a huge engraved rock with an helicopter - the most important rocks have been moved to a museum in Tende and replaced in situ by replicas.

Ivan Sache, 27 April 2002

Description of the flag

According to a TV report (defunct magazine Par là, TMC network), the municipal flag of Tende is a vertical, forked flag, horizontally divided yellow-red. It is a banner of the muncipal arms. I guess that this gonfanon shape, rather unusual in France, denotes the Italian influence.

The town hall of Tende displays on its main balcony a row of five vertical gonfanons representing the history of Tende. The display was explained in the aforementioned program by the Mayor of Tende as follows:

  • from c. 1100 to 1480, Tende belonged to the Counts of Vintimiglia (now in Liguria, Italy, and the most direct access to the Roya valley), represented by a flag made of nine alternating vertical yellow and red stripes.
  • from 1480 to 1580, Tende belonged to "France, represented by the lys of France", according to the Mayor. In fact, the flag has only one yellow fleur-de-lys surmonted by a red label, so it is the ancient flag of Provence. In fact, Provence was incorporated to France in 1486. However, the Guide Gallimard Alpes-Maritimes says that Tende belonged to the Vintimiglia-Lascaris family until 1575.
  • from 1580 to 1791, Tende belonged to Savoy, represented by its traditional flag, red with the white cross.
  • from 1791 to 1815, Tende was occupied by France, represented by the Tricolore flag.
  • in 1870, Italy united, therefore the Italian flag, apparently with the royal arms in the middle.
  • in 1947, as said above, Tende became French again.

The Mayor did not say what happened to Tende between 1815 and 1870. The County of Nice was then given back to the King of Sardinia, and retroceded to France, except the area surrounding Tende, in 1860.

Ivan Sache, 27 April 2002