Valence (Occitan Valença) is a commune in south-eastern France,
the capital of the département of Drôme, situated on the left bank of the Rhône,
65 miles south of Lyon on the railway to Marseille.
Its inhabitants are called Valentinois.
Formerly the duchy of Valentinois, it was ruled by the Duke of Valentinois,
a title which is still claimed by the Sovereign Prince of Monaco,
though he has no actual administrative control over the area.
read full wikipedia reference about Valence, France
At an indefinable point along the Rhône,
there's an invisible sensual border, and by the time you reach
VALENCE , you know you've crossed it. The quality of light
is different and the temperature higher, bringing with it the
scent of eucalyptus and pine, and the colours and contours suddenly
seem worlds apart from the cold lands of Lyon and the north.
Valence is the obvious place to celebrate your arrival in the
Midi (as the French call the south), with plenty of good bars
and restaurants in the old town, though it offers little else.
The focus of Vieux Valence, the Cathédrale
St-Apollinaire , was consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II (who
proclaimed the First Crusade), and largely reconstructed in the
seventeenth century after a local baron went on the rampage,
avenging the execution of three Protestants during the Wars of
Religion. More work was carried out later, including the horribly
mismatched nineteenth-century tower, but the interior still preserves
its original Romanesque grace - especially the columns around
Between the cathedral and Église
de St-Jean at the northern end of Grande Rue, which has preserved
its Romanesque tower and porch capitals, are some of the oldest
and narrowest streets of Vieux Valence. They are known as côtes
: côte St-Estève just northwest of the cathedral;
côte St-Martin off rue du Petit-Paradis; and côte
Sylvante off rue du Petit-Paradis' continuation, rue A.-Paré.
Diverse characters who would have walked these steep and crooked
streets include Rabelais, a student at the university founded
here in 1452 and suppressed during the Revolution, and the teenage
Napoléon Bonaparte, who began his military training as
a cadet at the artillery school.
Though Valence lacks the cohesion of the
medieval towns and villages further south, it does have several
vestiges of the sixteenth-century city, most notably the Renaissance
Maison des Têtes at 57 Grande Rue. Be sure to look at the
ceiling in the passageway here, where sculpted roses transform
into the cherub-like heads after which the palace is named. Also
worth a look is the Maison Dupré-Latour , on rue Pérollerie,
which has a superbly sculptured porch and spiral staircase. By
contrast Valence's Musée
des Beaux-Arts , near the cathedral on place des Ormeaux
(Tues-Sun: May-Sept 10am-noon & 2-7pm; rest of year 10am-noon
& 2-6pm), contains local art and archeological finds.
A good place if you need to fill in time
is the Parc Jouvet overlooking the river (and the motorway) south
of avenue Gambetta. At sunset, or even better at dawn, this is
definitely the best place to be in the city - a tranquil oasis
away from the town's bustle - with a bottle of Cornas or sparkling
St-Peray from the vineyards across the water.
OTHER POPULAR DESTINATIONS