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Villerupt and Aumetz in the spotlight!

"Ekinox" Project: "L'insomnante"

It is thought that Villerupt was populated as early as the Neolithic period, between 4500 and 1700 BC. During the Roman expansion, the region of Villerupt was Romanised, until the so-called ‘barbarian’ invasions created a linguistic borderline between the villages that remained faithful to Romance and those under Germanic influence. The village with the Germanic name of Micheweiler (‘Michael’s farm’), founded between the 5th and 7th century AD, is probably at the origin of the name of the area known as Micheville.

The history of Villerupt echoes that of the border region of which it forms part, called Lorraine from the 9th century onwards, and caught between the kingdoms of France and Germania. Throughout the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, the economy of the modest town relied essentially on agriculture. Yet iron ore was mined and transformed there since its inception. Indeed, the Lorraine plateau, which sits on limestone rock, contains a geological layer of great industrial interest: the Aalenian, which contains the iron ore locally known as minette.

From the middle of the 19th century, the region of Villerupt entered the era of the industrial revolution. The Franco-German war of 1870 ended with the defeat of France and saw the partition of the Lorraine between the eastern part, annexed by Germany, and the western part, which remained French. Villerupt found itself on the French side, acting as a border post with Luxembourg and the German Lorraine. From 1870 to 1914, fierce industrial competition with Germany, spurred by a desire of revenge, contributed to the economic development of the Villerupt mine. From 1880, Villerupt and its surroundings experienced a tremendous economic expansion thanks to technical progress.

Today’s Villerupt is an attractive city whose flourishing cultural life revolves around the renowned Italian Film Festival, as well as around projects organised by its House of Youth and Culture and a myriad of exceptionally dynamic community organisations. Its cultural offer will soon be enriched thanks to a new multipurpose venue, L’Arche, which will open its doors on 7, 8 and 9 January 2022.

Opening of L’Arche: 7, 8 and 9 January 20
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Located to the east of the Pays-Haut plateau in the Moselle, near the Luxembourg border, Aumetz lies at the crossroads of important ancient roads (Roman roads). The history of the commune is marked by its expansive mining activities, as evidenced by the old Bassompierre mine, which closed in 1983. The headframe, the only remains of Lorraine’s once flourishing mining industry, is listed in the supplementary inventory of historical monuments and serves as an architectural symbol of Aumetz that perpetuates the still vivid memory of a glorious past.

The municipality’s coat of arms (1960) combines two barbels (fish) derived from the coat of arms of the House of Bar and recalling its former affiliation with the Duchy of Bar. The forest surmounted by a cross symbolises the Abbey of Saint-Hubert in the Ardennes. Finally, the spear is the emblem of St Martin, formerly the patron saint of the churches of Aumetz and Gorze.

Culture and heritage are at the heart of the commune’s policy. The Ecomuseum of the Lorraine Iron Mines provides visitors with an underground experience of the living and working environment of minors, while the men’s choir Les voix de l’est Aumetz organises the European choral festival ‘Mines en Chœur’.

Initiated by the CCPHVA, ‘La Jungle, raw collaborations’ is one of the projects carried out in Aumetz as part of Esch2022. Accompanied by the Parisian collective Brut Pop – pédagogie musicale et inclusion, young students of the Institut Médico Éducatif d’Aumetz and the rock band La Jungle will present a common sound work at the FrancoFolies 2022 in Esch-Alzette. Prior to the performance, the students will participate in several joint residencies in Luxembourg, where they will work in a professional environment to compose one or more titles to be integrated into the future concert of La Jungle in Esch/Alzette.

Aumetz will also take part in ‘Ekinox’, a project on dreams, sleep, the sleeping city and waking dreams, organised by the Nest, Centre Dramatique National de Thionville. This two-part project consists of a series of on-site interventions along the railway lines connecting the towns of Thionville and Bettembourg (from 25 March to 26 September 2022), as well as transforming an entire town into a theatre (from 21 March to 21 September 2022) as part of a project that will be presented on two separate occasions with two different stories during the equinoxes of March and September, the latter taking place in Aumetz and involving the inhabitants and numerous local organisations.

Villerupt and Aumetz will also be an integral part of the project ‘MEMORIES, IMAGES AND HISTORY ACROSS BORDERS’ by the French Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, which lets spectators rediscover the Esch2022 region through 150 audiovisual documents that have been assembled into the new digital fresco ‘Au fil de l’Alzette… territoires et destins partagés’. Based on the fresco, students from the University of Lorraine (Metz) will create a transmedia game and a web documentary merging archival imagery and contemporary stories.