The Lake of de Sévigné
The Marquise de Sévigné left her mark on Livry-Gargan. She spent a long time at the abbey of Notre-Dame de Livry, whose lake of Sevigné is the only vestige today.
Built in 1197, the abbey was founded by King Philippe-Auguste himself to honour the memory of one of the members of the Garlande family, lords of Livry.
It was placed under the patronage of the Virgin Mary and consecrated by Eudes de Sully, then Bishop of Paris, in 1197. The religious who lived there had the mission of guarding the tomb of the Garlandes, and prayed to God for the rest of this lord’s soul. Monastic life was divided between study, psalmody, manual labor, obedience, and poverty. About forty abbots succeeded each other until the Revolution.
The most famous master of the place was the abbot of Coulanges (from 1664 to 1687). Famous thanks to the stories of his even more famous niece, Marie de Rabutin Chantal, married to a noble Breton: the Marquis Henri de Sévigné. The Marquise de Sévigné extends in her letters to her daughter about the beauty of Livry that she finds «above all». She stayed at the Abbey especially from the death of her husband in 1651, and continued even after the death of her uncle. She died in 1696.
In 1766, the Abbé de Malherbe received at the Abbey of Livry Horatio Walpole, an English writer whose novel «The Castle of Otranto» launched the Gothic Romanesque movement. In his correspondence, the novelist will celebrate the talent of Madame de Sévigné.
During the Revolution, the Abbey (and all its possessions) was confiscated and sold, in two lots.
In the 19th century, Vice-Admiral Jacob made it his home from 1842 until his death in 1854.
It was not long before Livry-Gargan became a spa.
In 1864, Robert de Vey, then owner of the site, had excavations carried out that uncovered four sources baptized Sévigné, Sainte-Marie, Notre-Dame-de-Livry and Admiral Jacob.
The therapeutic properties of the waters were evaluated and classified as those of Enghien. Monsieur de Vey then had pavilion lots built and sold around the lake, a sale that continued after his death in 1884. He had already sold land in 1865 to the Société de Sévigné-les-Eaux and other companies successively exploited the springs. However, there were not many patients.
In 1912 the city asked to be classified as a «hydromineral station» but this status was denied to it on November 17, 1912, certainly under the influence of Enghien politicians.
This is the end of the spa adventure for Livry.
In 1923, the urbanization of the Abbey district was completed.
Then, in 1979, the city paid tribute to Madame de Sévigné by having a plaque placed near the lake now deprived of the chestnut tree under which she liked to sit and which was shot down by the Germans during the war of 1870.
Since then, the waters of the lake rest in peace and bring calm and serenity to its residents.
Livry-Gargan or Livry-Sévigné ?
Livry-Gargan could’ve been named Livry-Sévigné. Indeed, when changing the name, in 1912, from Livry to Livry-Gargan many expressed their disappointment, they would have preferred to attach « Sévigné » rather than the last name of the industrial « Gargan ».
During the war of 1870, the Abbey and its park were looted, ransacked and occupied by the Germans. After the war, the necessary work was very costly.
During the First World War, the Abbey served as a barracks for French troops passing through.