Leuville-sur-Orge : a little
Article published in 27/12/2004 Issue
By Eva CSERGO in Leuville-sur-Orge (
Translated by Marie ANDERSON
There are 3,700 inhabitants in Leuville-sur-Orge. A town
alike the thousands of other cities in the
Indeed, Noe Jordania, the first president of the independent
community has been intergrating successfully in the village. Even as of today,
the church of Leuville-sur-Orge is still lended to the Georgian orthodox
authorities for celebrating weddings or funerals. There is even inside the
church an icon of the Cappadocian Virgin Saint-Nino, patroness of
On May 26th, 2001, for
the anniversary of the independence of
Magnificence of the
castle, incessant comings and goings around this historic place: the myth is
rooted. But the reality is quite different. The village seems to be deserted. A
woman met in the course of the streets indicates the directions to the
Behind the surrounding wall, the castle is a pitiful sight. The panes are dirty, the wall is dilapidated. At the entrance of the parc, a white car shakes about on the bumps on the driving path. The driver, a fifty years old man, stares awkwardly. «Is it here the Georgian museum ?» The man burst into laughter : «A Georgian museum ! There is just an association here !» He mumbles a few words, and then swiftly speeds away.
A pole standing on the
lawn facing the castle is adorned with two washed-out flags : a French flag,
and a Georgian flag. A new garden table and new garden chairs were put outside.
But one can also distinguish broken panes and locked doors. General secretary
of the Georgian Center Association, Ethery Tsereteli is one of those
captivating women who make you forget in no time about the obsolete castle. She
tells us the story of this place.
Improvised guide, Ethery Tsereteli opens the doors of the great lounge. The walls are covered with pictures. Between the former and the present Georgian flags, stands the independence act of May 26th 1918. Just above, the portrait of Noe Jordania, surrounded by the main members of his government.
Frozen in their frameworks, those previous ones create a solemn and obsolete. These religiously kept old pictures are as many instants preserved for posterity : a reception at the Elysee palace; the minister of Foreign Affairs in his hackney ; the president and his governement wearing straw hats, etc.
Here and there, symbols from Georgia: the Dideba, former national anthem modified since the Rose Revolution ; some traditional claywares ; a wine horn ; a great statue of Saint-Georges.
Instead of a castle, one may see in Leuville-sur-Orge a washed out hunting lodge which seemed to die slowly in its own memories. But the meeting with Ethery Tsereteli makes reappear suddenly all the verve of the Georgian community united by a common memory. «Unfortunately, the main part of our community is today burried in the Georgian square», she confides.
The arrival of Noe Jordania
In 1921, the Red Army invades
But life is expensive
in the French capital. The emigrants cannot afford to live there for a long
time, and they start to look for a propriety in which they could live together.
On June 24th 1922, they buy on the funds of the
Without water, nor electricity, life is tough here. Coming back to the country becomes less and less likely, and the savings run low. So as to live on, the exiled members of the government cultivate their lands. The testimonies of that time indicate that president Jordania and its members of government were very often seen working in the kitchen garden. They grow local vegetables, but also Georgian ones also : red beans, Russian pickles, etc. Some of those products are in turn grown by French people – those pickles even feed the Parisian agribusiness.
The government which has now its head office in Leuville-sur-Orge is in close contact with the Georgian resistance. During the preparations for the national uprising in 1924, the Committee for
After the crushing of
the insurrection in1924, one part of the survivors also go into exile. Most of
them settle in the region of Sochaux-Audincourt and in
In the 60’s, in addition
of the thirty inhabitants of the castle, there are several tens of Georgians
living in the surroundings of the city.
The community is in very close contact with
The property belongs now to the descendents of the first owners. The castle is thus occupied, but deserted throughout the winter. Upon the death of the first shareholders of the Georgian Center Association, another association was created to run the property.
The Georgian Center
Association organizes visits, colloqiums and celebrations. It is also in charge
of keeping up the graves of the «Georgian square». Indeed, the exiles did
wanted to be burried in Leuville-sur-Orge, in the «Georgian square» of the city
cemetery bought by the Georgian Association in
There Noe Jordania, prince Kaikoshro Tcholokhachvili -hero of the national uprising in 1924-, and first immigrants are burried there. There are also the graves of some people who were «repatriated» from abroad.
Even today, during the
burials, the priest throws a handful of Georgian earth. One of the graves of
the «Georgian square» has this epitaph : «Even our bones think about
The place is still
marked by nostalgia. One may easily picture the way the independence
celebrations take place in the castle. Most certainly they must look like a
reunion or a family reunion. But Leuville-sur-Orge, the little
© CAUCAZ.COM | Article published in 27/12/2004 Issue | By Eva CSERGO