While springs gushed forth on the hillsides in contact with clays and marlstone, Bougival’s rivulet, the Drionne, which is canalised today, used to collect this water which long ago formed the valley of “Beudechisilo”. This patronymic, from which the name of our town originates, goes back to the beginning of Merovingian times.
As early as 1070, a church is mentioned in Bougival.
In 1142, the Abbey of Saint-Florent de Saumur owned thirteen churches, including Sainte-Marie of Bougival.
Burnt down in the 14th century by the Prince of Wales, it was later partly rebuilt before being restored by Lucien Magne at the end of the 19th century. From far away, you can see its beautiful bell tower soaring up through the trees on the hillside indicating the town centre.
During the Gallo-Roman period, the Via Nova, which joined Paris to Rouen, used to pass through “La Chaussée”. A hamlet, known until the 18th century by the name of “La Chaussée Charlevanne”, developed at the junction where this road and the Seine met. The largest leper house in the kingdom, Sainte-Madeleine de Charlevanne, was built here and existed until 1778. On the hills, the hamlet of Saint-Michel de la Houssaye was inhabited in ancient times because a large number of carved flints have been found there. The Chemin du Hariel (Hariel horses were working horses) started from La Chaussée Charlevanne and led to Louveciennes, and the most ancient of our ways, the main rue du Chef de Ville (currently rue du Maréchal Joffre), led towards La Celle and Versailles.
In the Middle Ages, a number of fisheries flourished along the banks of the Seine. One of them, the building of which according to tradition is said to have been ordered by Charles Martel, is believed to be the source of the second qualifier, Charlevanne, or “la vanne de Charles” (Charles’ sluice gate).
In the mid 12th century, the domain of Bougival passed from the Lords of Marly into the hands of the Lords of Poussy and, until the 18th century, it was regularly used in exchanges of land. Marquis Joseph de Mesmes, who had already been lord of La Chaussée since 1716, became its owner in 1774.
His motto, “Toujours de Mesmes” (Forever de Mesmes) and his coat of arms have remained those of the town.
The Coat of Arms:
The shield, bearing a crenellated crown wreath of or with three towers, is supported by two branches of argent vine with gules fruit, each with three pieces, burgeoning from a meadow compartment in or supported by five argent and azure waves. The one in the middle, in argent and azure, bears the motto in sable uncial script “Toujours de Mesmes” (Forever de Mesmes).
Gules round the plum tree on an argent base laden with its fruit in or and the field, also in or, bearing a sable crescent charge.
Symbolism of the composition
The coat of arms is supported by vine branches reminiscent of once flourishing vineyards and the stylised plum tree represents the region’s main crop. The crenellated wall crown conjures up the town, and the waves recall the Seine. The field bears the arms of the de Mesmes family, the lords of Bougival from 1640, whose motto is also reproduced.