Boulogne-Billancourt, a story of incredible cultural and industrial wealth…

Our only goal here is to partially lift the veil on Boulogne-Billancourt’s amazing story. Objective: to arouse an awareness and generate excitement to come and visit our city. To accomplish this, let us dazzle you....

Did you know?

 . The foundations of l’Eglise Notre-Dame date back to Philippe le Bel in the 13th century.

But even before the church’s first foundations were laid in the 13th it was during the 12th that the first written traces appeared on Boulogne- Billancourt’s current site by a firm owned by the Abbey of Saint -Victor. A first bridge seems to have been launched over the Seine at the heights of Saint-Cloud towards 1189. What in the 19th would become Boulogne- Billancourt (1860) then denominated Les Menuls-les-Saint Cloud. The city still retains traces of this past, dating back nearly 1,000 years

 . Laundry workshops washing Parisians’ clothes

During the reign of Louis XIV, the Boulogne site already had nearly 30 laundries. It was around 1789 that the laundry business made a decisive breakthrough, with the appearance of chlorine that disinfects and whitens clothes. Throughout the 19th century, laundry and ironing workshops were the city’s main economic resource. In gradual decline, while other industries were taking off, this activity would still continue until the end of the 40s.

 . Aircraft by Voisin, Farmann and others were built in Boulogne- Billancourt

Flying fools, flight enthusiasts, engineers, industrialists or wealthy investors and patrons often settled in Boulogne-Billancourt. It is the First World War and the demand for military aircraft led to an emerging industry that included many workshops and considerable aircraft construction, a period that Maurice Farmann exploited to best advantage. The Voisin Workshops in the Rue de la Ferme, the Robert Esnault-Pelterie Workshops in the Rue des Abondances and later Rue de Silly or even the Farmann Workshops, Rue de Billancourt... the city was one of the world capitals of the 20th century’s aviation adventure.

 .  The first automotive transmission was designed and built in our city

In the mid 1890s, the great Renault saga began right here in Boulogne -Billancourt. Louis Renault will install a makeshift studio at the back of the family property located on Rue du Cours. He built his first automobile with his own hands. Louis Renault’s extraordinary growth has only just begun. He bought an old hangar on Seguin Island and progressively became successful, he will conquer many fields- but not without difficulties, twists and turns – up to owning almost the city’s entire southern portion that forever retains the brand of this unusual industrial adventure. The ultimate Renault automobile (an R4) came off assembly lines in 1992.

Boulogne-Billancourt, the historic heart of photography and of world cinema

Before movies... photos! In 1882 in Boulogne-Billancourt, scientist Etienne-Jules Marey invented the "photographic gun" to record the flight of birds. The technical basis of the cinema was born. In 1926, Henri Diamant-Berger opened Studio Billancourt (Quai du Point du Jour), others will follow, Rue de Silly and Rue Jean- Baptiste Clément. Directors began building huge outdoor sets. Numerous films that forever marked the history of world cinema were shot in Boulogne-Billancourt between 1930 and 1960: "Napoleon" by Abel Gance, "Fanny" by Marcel Pagnol, "Madame Bovary" by Marc Allégret, "La Chienne" and "La Grande Illusion" by Jean Renoir, "Les Amants de Vérone" by Andre Cayatte and Jacques Prevert, "Juliette ou la Clé des Songes" by Marcel Carné, "The Roots of Heaven" by John Houston and "The Longest Day" by Darryl Zanuck.... 

 . A city of art and architecture

Boulogne-Billancourt’s great industrial boom did not prevent it from also being home to an incredible abundance of art and architecture. Painters and sculptors famous worldwide settled there as well as master casters, glassblowers and ceramists. Patrons as well. Among the biggest celebrities who settled in Boulogne-Billancourt, let’s underline names like sculptor Paul Landowski or urban architect Le Corbusier.

The City knows how to keep alive this great cultural tradition, by becoming a highlight of the Valley of Culture in the 21st century.


So ... if you want to know more about the amazing history and wealth of Boulogne-Billancourt, Ile-de- France’s other major city, come and visit and stay. The Office of Tourism will give you all the necessary keys.

 

Bibliography
. "Le Guide sur Boulogne-Billancourt" by Editions Heritage - July 2012
. "La 1ère Fois" by Editions R & Co – publication expected in December 2013

On sale at the OTBB

 

History through images

Notre-Dame De Boulogne
Notre-Dame De Boulogne

 

Blanchisserie Simon en 1900
Laundry workshop Simon in 1900

 

Construction chassis bois usine voisin vers 1908
Construction of a wooden frame Voisin workshop around 1908

 

Entre usine Renault en 1935 Photo Pierre Boucher
Entrance of the Renault factory in 1935 - By Pierre Boucher

 

Ile Seguin et Trapeze Renault
The Seguin Island and the Renault factory