Lamour (Landrecies 1903 - 1992)
Even though Philippe
Lamour spent most of his life in southern France, he is not a southerner but a
northerner : he was born in 1903 to a peasant family in Landrecies. He was too
young to fight during World War I, and he got his baccalauréat in 1918. He then
started to study law, because he was planning to become a lawyer.
He proved to be very
successful : as soon as 1924, he was a trainee lawyer. He participated in
several important trials of the 1930s, like the famous Stavisky affair. He also
met Geneviève at that time, the woman who was to become his wife. He worked
occasionally as a journalist too.
His career as a journalist
will become even more important during the Spanish civil war (1936-1939). He
decided to leave France and to work in Spain as a reporter, living with Republican
troops. In his articles, Lamour
kept denouncing this tragic conflict and the outrageous passivity of western
He was also extremely
worried about the rise of Hitler in Germany. He was one of the few clear-headed
men in France to demand immediate military action against this fledgling
dictatorship, but he ended up being branded as a warmonger. Thus, his repeated
warnings proved vain : France was severely defeated in may 1940 by Nazi troops.
Philippe Lamour and his family took refuge in the remaining free French
territory, in the south. They settled on a private family estate near Marseille.
During the war, the Lamours had to become farmers and to eke out a living this
The end of the war was the
real beginning of Lamour’s career. He started to do several things at the same
time. First, he became an important figure in the world of agricultural unions
: he was elected at the head of the General Agricultural Confederacy and
lobbied the French government in order to get more public aid for farmers. He
was remarkably successful : in 1946, Philippe Lamour was proud to drive the very
first French combine harvester. The agricultural revolution was on its way.
His job as a unionist didn’t
prevent him from getting important jobs in the French public administration :
after France was liberated, he was nominated “Assistant Commissioner of the
Republic”, which allowed him to work with Jean Monnet for the reconstruction of
the country. He also had the idea of creating the very first labels of origin
for French products : in 1947, the “Superior Wine” label was born thanks to
Philippe Lamour achieved
the greatest work of his life in the 1950s and 1960s : the huge regional
development project of southern France. Several regions have been totally
transformed by what he did : among other things, Lamour introduced hydrology in
the Southeast, drained the swampy coasts of Languedoc and created a thriving
rice-growing economy in Camargue. Such big responsibilities brought him closer
to some great men : he had an long conversation with general De Gaulle when the
latter inaugurated a pumping station in February 1960.
A month later, Lamour even
met with Nikita Krushchev, the successor of Stalin !
Philippe Lamour retired in
the 1970s. He moved to a quiet farm near Marseille, and wrote an autobiography
called Le Cadran Solaire (“The Sundial”). This very insightful book tells about
a man who lived through three different republics and who met a good deal of
famous leaders. It was one of the most popular best sellers of the 1970s.
He died in 1992, very far
from his native Landrecies. Our town didn’t forget him, though : our new public
library was recently named after him and was inaugurated by his wife.
Next : Jean-Marie Leblanc