The fourth day of our trip to France began with a tour of Valence. The city is located on the left bank of the Rhone, between the cities of Lyon and Avignon, and is the center of the Drome department. In Valence, we stayed at the Etap Valence Center hotel, located near the main attractions of the city.
Valence is already practically Provence, there is a lot of sun (this was the first day of our trip when it became appropriate to put on a shirt and shorts), and the roofs of the houses are red, in the north of France they often have a gray-blue or pigeon color.
Valence is the city of Valentines and Valentines. And it has gone since ancient times, from Valentinian, when the city belonged to a Roman colony. Since the IV century, the city developed as a bishopric. For many years, the city was owned by various emperors, dukes and other influential people, until in 1456 the French king Louis XI extended sovereignty to Valence. And at the end of the 15th century, another French king, Louis XII, formed the duchy.
The center of Valence is a pleasant and cozy place, here you can get lost both in the narrow city streets hidden in the shade of trees, and walk along the wide sunny streets.
The main street of Valence really (as written in the reviews of travelers) is architecturally reminiscent of the Cannes embankment.
Here you can see a slender row of 18th-century mansions; the Romanesque Church of Saint-Jean is not far away.
It is nice to walk along the streets of the city if you want to have a snack at the services of tourists and residents of the city numerous cafes and eateries.
There is a very interesting building in the city's architectural plan, the Maison de Tete or the “House with the Heads”, dating back to the 16th century with sculptures on the top of the facade.
If you enter the arch of this building, on the walls you can observe the busts of Aristotle, Homer, Hippocrates, etc.
Another attraction that is very interesting for tourists is the Cathedral of St. Apolinaria (Cathedrale St-Apollinaire).
The cathedral was founded in 1095 under Pope Urban II, during the wars with the Huguenots it was badly damaged and was reconstructed in the 17th century. In 1861, a tower was added to the cathedral. Inside the church you can see the tomb of Pope Pius VI, expelled by Napoleon from Rome, he was here as a prisoner and died in 1799.
The treasury of the cathedral stores Roman antiquities, sculptures and paintings.
Having passed the main pedestrian street of the city (Victor Hugo), where all kinds of clothing and shoe stores are located, as well as the shopping center of the same name and turned onto Pierre Semard, we went to a large square - the Field of Mars.
The kiosk, traditional for the southern cities of France, flaunts here, where concerts of live music are most likely to be arranged on summer warm evenings.
Behind the gazebo is a very pretty Jouvet park.
Students like to gather here.
In the park you can find both coolness in the shade and sunbathing in the sun.
At certain hours, a children's train runs in the park, with a ticket office located next to the playground. There is a small pond in the park.
We also noticed animals in the park, horses and deer.
Gendarmes on horses and bicycles oversee the park.
We liked Valence, a nice compact city with a great park.
The city of Valence descended from the Roman colony Valentia, founded in Narbonne Gaul (as the Romans called this part of France). Since the IV century, all power in the city belonged to the bishop, only in 1450, Louis XI persuaded the last of them to cede their rights to the city in exchange for royal patronage and the creation of a university (abolished during the French Revolution). The king made Valence the capital of the Duchy of Valentinua and endowed the title of Duke of Cesare Borgia. After his death, the title was revived for Diana de Poitiers. The current owners of the ducal title are the rulers of Monaco.
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A bit of history
The city was founded in Roman times. In the troubled dark ages, he visited both the Goths and the Franks before becoming French. In the 16th century, Valence became the Protestant center of the province and was fortified by King Francis I. Louis XI took care of the development of the city: he often visited it and even built the Dauphin Palace here. In the 15th century, he opened a local university, which was subsequently abolished. The edict of Nantes had a negative effect on the development of Valence, and from the end of the 17th century the city became what it is to this day: quiet, modest and rather provincial.
A specific feature of Valence is the composition of its population. At the beginning of the 20th century, during the genocide organized by the Turks, many Armenians fled to the west. A considerable part of them settled in the hospitable Valence, where the large Armenian diaspora has still been preserved. About a tenth of the Valencians are indigenous Armenians.
Surroundings of Valence
About 20 km from the city is a curious place, Roman-sur-Isère. This town is famous first of all as a large medieval shoe-making center, and a shoe museum is located in the former abbey. Roman's factories are still operating, and quite a few stores with more than reasonable prices are open here. In addition, in Roman there is a historic collegiate church of St. Bernard, built on the banks of the river. The old town of Romana is also very pretty: the buildings of the 14th century are preserved here.
Trip to Otriv
Otriv is located approximately 45 km north of Valence. And here is a building as incredible and amazing as it is impressive in its beauty, and even more so - in the history of creation. This is the ideal palace of the postman Cheval.
Ferdinand Cheval was born into a poor family in the first half of the 19th century, during the famine and disease, the great revolutions and upheavals, the discoveries of Freud and the colonization of Africa and Asia by France, in the era of railways and the first world exhibitions. All this was amazing, although a simple postman who walked more than 20 km daily on a daily basis could only learn about all these news from newspapers he delivered.
In 1879, at the age of 43, Cheval began work, which lasted 33 years. It all started with the fact that on the road he tripped on a bizarre stone. And after that, as a hobby, the postman began to build the palace of his dreams out of selected stones, crafting each cobblestone manually. He drew inspiration from postcards and illustrated magazines that he delivered to the recipients, and decorated the palace with figures of animals he had never seen: octopuses, caimans, elephants, as well as sculptures of giants, fairies, deities of different religions from other continents.
Today, this stunningly detailed and intricately decorated building is ranked among the recognized masterpieces of "naive" architecture - in fact, it became the first example of this style. Cheval's work was admired by Picasso and Breton. In 1969, the palace was listed as a historical monument, and in 1984, the granddaughter of Cheval gave the palace to the city.
Today, about 150 thousand people visit the palace annually. You can get here by public transport, by bus from Saint-Vallière or Roman-sur-Isère (half an hour from any city).
A special Valenciennes delicacy is the “syuss” (that is, the “Swiss” gingerbread). You can find it in almost every bakery in the city. This is a hybrid of large rolls and fresh gingerbread with a large orange flavor, made in the shape of a medieval Swiss soldier. The manufacturing history of the “Swiss” dates back to 1799, when Swiss soldiers guarded a prisoner in the castle of the Pope.
Other local goodies are chocolate, Montelimar nougat, truffles, sweet chestnut and pony pasta, egg brioche flavored with orange or rum.