Orléans, Loiret Département

       

Orléans (hoc vernant lilia corde): City of Sainte Jeanne d'Arc, capital of the Loire Valley, a place linked to fine sincere wines, chateaux and history from ancient times, a city with a modern tramway; a town with a virtual tourist tour which begins at: http://www.virtourist.com/europe/orleans/01.htm -- do this first, s.v.p. Speaking of trams, the French concern Alstom was the supplier of tramtrains for the city's first line and in 2006 was awarded the contract for the second line.

On May 8th 1429, the English troops left the city, after Jeanne led the troops per a vision. This was near the end of the Hundred Years War. The victory at Orléans turns the tide in the French favour, although a few more battles would be lost. Noble Dauphin, ne tenez pas davantage tous ces conseils, si nombreux et si longs, venez donc au plus vite à Reims prendre la couronne à laquelle vous avez droitLoches - 11 Mai 1429). She was soon martyred (est condamnée à être brûlée vive à Rouen) by the English and 500 years later the Carholic Church recognized the sainte-hood that the French people had recognized from almost the beginning. More about allof this is on our newsletter page for May -- please, check entries for May 8th and 30th: Link HERE -- Mon âme exalte le Seigneur et mon esprit s'est rempli d'allégresse. A cause de Dieu, mon Sauveur, parce qu'il a porté son regard sur son humble servante . . . .

The original église Saint-Aignan dated from the 6th century AD. It housed the relics of the local Saint Aignan, one of the first bishops of Orléans, who helped repulse the invasion of the Huns and their leader, Attila, a hundred years earlier. The most recent structure on the site is nearly 500 years old. The Cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Cross, Sainte Croix. Several other Cathedral buildings have existed, the earliest dating from the 7th Century (destroyed in the 10th). This one was begun by Henry IV, one of the last cathedrals to be built in France. L'église Saint Paterne, which is close to the main train station -- Gare d'Orléans, looks like St. Eustache in Paris at Les Halles. The city was briefly the headquarters of the Huguenots, and was besieged in 1563 by Catholic forces. Many structures including the Cathedral was destroyed. Orléans remained in Catholic hands until the Edict of Nantes (1598). Nearby manor houses: Chateau de Chinon, Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, Chateau de Langeais, Chateau de Villandry, Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau d'Amboise, Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire, Chateau de Blois, Chateau de Cheverny and of course Chateau Royal de Chambord, a delicious mixture to contemplate (and tour).

Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe. Destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, the Emperor Aurelian refounded the city, renaming it after himself, which evolved into into the name Orléans. The Alans gained influence in the area after they helped defeat the Huns (451AD). Moving on passed the early medieval period, the Valois-Orléans family acceded to the throne of France under Louis XII and then Francis I. In 1108, one of the few consecrations of a French monarch to take place outside of Reims occurred at Orléans, when Louis VI, Le Gros, was consecrated in the Orléans cathedral by Daimbert, Archbishop of Sens.

Theodulf (Theodolph of Orléans) was born of a noble Gothic family, probably in Spain, became the abbot at Fleury and Saint Aignan, then Bishop of Orléans at about the age of 30 (in 781AD). He strongly supported Alcuin and Charlmagne's principles of government and education. He established schools and by his own literary achievements was an honoured member of the learned circle at Court. Theodulf's hymn in 'Spiritual Songs' is the chorus of no. 144: Glory, honour, praise and power, Be unto the Lamb for ever. The verses later were written by John Wesley biographies. His private chapel (oratory) remains, with its mossaic of the Ark of the Covenant (from about 806). His palace complex at Germigny-des-Prés resembled Charlemagne's palace complex at Aachen; Viking forces destroyed all except the oratory within a century. Theodulf died in 821AD.

The Dukes of Orléans' chief castle was at Blois. The duchy of Orléans was the largest of the French duchies, encompassing Arpajon, Chartres, Vendôme, Blois, Vierzon, and Montargis. A duke's son bore the title Duke of Chartres. Inheritances from great houses and marriage alliances allowed the family Orléans to accumulate enormous wealth. Louis-Philippe Égalité is sometimes said to have been the richest man in the world at the time. His son, Louis-Philippe I, inherited the Penthièvre and Condé family fortunes.

La Motte Sanguin -- une usine et un hôtel pour le duc: It is on this promontory (across from the town) that the Duke of Orleans, Louis-Philippe Égalité, began in February 1789 to transfer one of his cotton usines (factories) from the Campo Santo (next to the Cathedral). He also started to build an elegant home (the Chateau de la Motte-Sanguin). The architect designs the Lebrun spinning complex, a huge building of six floors and 365 windows and the Hôtel de la Motte-Sanguin (city-home), recognized as one of the most beautiful homes that had been built in this city in the late 18th century. In 1824, the plant is converted to steam power to mill wheat because cotton factory had gone bankrupt during the revolutionary years and the age of Napoleon. A few years later, the flower mill suffered the same economic fate, and it is destroyed by fire during the night of 18th to 19th July 1827. Rebuilt to three floors only, it burned again in September 1860. The violence of the fire was such, indeed, that flames rose above the railway bridge and fell on the other side of the Loire. What is left of the old building is eventually razed in 1875, and the artillery school of the 5th army corps is built in its place. The chateau that once served as housing for various directors of the manufacture now hosted generals. After purchase by the city in 1928, the military occupants surrender their rooms to convert to a modern high school (for women) and then that of Jean Zay from 1949. These buildings later transition to a regional youth and sports center including a youth hostel. The former hôtel and its grounds became a public garden, and eventually were acquired by the city on July 24, 1976.

During the liberation of France, the American Air Force bombed the city and the train station, causing much damage, before taking the town (August 1944). The city was one of the first to be rebuilt after the war. Orléans was the last stop of the American forces before the liberation of Paris. Surprisingly, Wichita, in Kansas, United States of America is one of the ciy's official twins, and not la Nouvelle-Orléans or Orleans, Massachusetts.

Within Orléans a tramtrain runs from the city center down the premier rue to outlying small towns and suburbs (université d'Orléans), but generally does not serve the principle tourist centers. A second line (east to west) now under construction will go into service in 2010. The city celebrates Sainte Joan of Arc during the first week of May with parades, a medieval market and traditional music, sound and light shows.

According to legend, Charles of Valois, Duke of Orléans and father of the popular King Louis XII (Father of the People), sent the first Valentine messages (letters and poems) to his second wife, Bonne of Armagnac, in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt {100 Years' War}. He, however, was not beheaded, and lived a full life. Unfortunetly, until 1440, it was spent in English captivity. He never saw his wife Bonne again. Orléans, an accomplished poet, composing in both French and English, was exceptional among his French contemporaries. http://www174.pair.com/mja/EHRrev.html So it is that the British Library has a copy of his works from about 1500, composed in French, English and Latin. He makes an appearance in Shakespeare's King Henry V (Act 4. Scene VIII), when his name is mentioned as one of the captives taken on October 25 -- Saint Crispin's Day.

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