The town of Châteauroux is perched upon a hill, in the
Indre Département, above the Indre River.
It is placed on the main road from
Paris, Auto Route A 20, where it intersects with Routes Nationaux 143 and 151 and with D 956 and D 943.
It is also on the main rail line between the two cities of
Paris and Toulous.
Châteauroux is about 150 miles south of Paris, 34 miles southwest of
Bourges, 45 miles south of
Orléans and 33 miles south-southwest of Vierzon.
It is the capital of the
The name Châteauroux is derived from the name of the 10th century Château-Raoul, built by
Raoul le Large, that pre-dated the town.
The present day Château-Raoul, which dates from the 15th century, now houses the prefecture.
The town has two 13th century churches.
Saint-Martial and the Church of the Cordeliers.
The latter is now a museum.
Châteauroux is located on a productive agricultural plain and serves the area as an agricultural marketplace.
The town engages in the woolen textile industry using wool from flocks in Berry.
The town also produces chemicals, cigarettes, metal equipment, paper and pharmaceuticals.
Orléans, famous as the city that
Joan of Arc saved, is a major city in the southern part of the
Paris Basin. It is situated on the edge of the Beauce plain, on both banks of the Loire River that divides the town into two unequal parts.
The city is also a transportation and communications center.
It is the focal point of a road network and its nearby railroad junction, at Aubrais, is one of France’s most important junctions.
The city is located at the intersection of the Auto Routes A 71 and A 10 and of Route Nationoux N 20, N 157, N 60 and N 152.
It is some 70 miles south-southwest of
Paris, 33 miles northeast of
Blois, 45 miles south-southeast of
Chartres, 70 miles north-northwest of
Bourges and 66 miles northeast of
Orléans is the capital of the
The Celtic town of Genabum was conquered and burned, in 52 BC, by
The town was rebuilt by Lucius Aurelian and was named Aurelianum in honor of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
The name Aurelianum ultimately became Orléans.
Orléans was the capital of a Frankish kingdom in the 6th and early 7th centuries.
During the late 8th and early 9th centuries, under
Charlemagne, Orléans became the intellectual capital of France.
By the 10th century, it had become France’s second most important city.
Hundred Years’ War [1337 to 1453], in 1429, the seven-month English-Burgundian siege of the city was broken by
Joan d’Arc and her troops.
During the Religious Wars, of the 16th century, Orléans remained a Huguenot [Protestant] stronghold until 1572 when it was taken by the Catholics following the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1,000 protestants.
Louis Philippe, duc d’Orléans, became king of France.
Orléans was occupied by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
During the Second World War, the city was severely bombed by the Germans in 1940 and then by the allies in 1944.
Over half of the city was destroyed.
Orléans’ old quarter has been rebuilt in the style of the old 18th century town.
The new university is at La Source, so named for the springs that feed the Loire River.
The major portion of the city is built on the north bank of the Loire.
This part of the city contains substantial squares and is surrounded by wide boulevards.
Along the river are quays and other port facilities.
Among Orléans’ most impressive landmarks are the Cathédral Sainte-Coix [rebuilt during the 17th through 19th centuries], the equestrian statue of
Joan d’Arc, in the place du Martroi [in the center of town], and the nearby 16th century stone and red-brick Hôtel Groslot.
The 13th century cathedral, which was begun in 1287, was destroyed by the Protestants in 1568.
It was faithfully rebuilt, in the Gothic style, by
Henry IV and his successors [Henry laid the first stone in 1601] and is approximately the same size as Notre-Dame de
Its 18th century towers, which were damaged in the Second World War, have been restored.
The Hôtel Groslot was originally built in 1549 and was renovated and enlarged in the 19th century.
François II and his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, lived in the mansion.
From 1790 to 1982, it was used as Orléans’ Hôtel-de-Ville.
Its sumptuously decorated interior was used by kings
Henri III and
Henri IV who all stayed at the mansion.
The University of Orléans was originally founded in 1305, abolished during the French Revolution and re-established in 1962.
The southern part of Orléans has long been a center for gardening and horticulture and is world famous for its roses. It is the main market town for the rich agricultural area that surrounds it.
The nearby vineyards are excellent.
Orléans produces agricultural equipment, automobile accessories, beverages, chemicals, electrical equipment, leather, processed foods, machinery, textiles and nearly half of France’s production of vinegar. Tourism is also important.
There is the annual pageant, commemorating
Joan d’Arc, on April 29 and May 7 and 8.
The city also sponsors an annual jazz festival that is held the first week of July.
The main part of Tours lies in the scenic
Loire Valley, between the Loire River and the canalized portion of the Cher River that is to the Loire’s immediate south.
The town is an important rail and road juncture, but is better known for its fine food and wine.
It is located on the Auto Route A 10, where it junctures with Route Nationaux N 10, N 76, N 101, N 138, N 143 and N 152 and with D 29 and D 140.
Tours is 130 miles southwest of
Paris, 66 miles southwest of
Orléans, 72 miles west-northwest of
Bourges and 33 miles west-southwest of
Tours is the capital of the Département of
A pre-Roman Gallic tribe, known as the Turons, had established a settlement on the right bank of the Loire.
Roman conquest, in 50 BC, the Romans moved the settlement across the river, to the left bank, and named it Altinos.
It was subsequently named Caesarodunum [Caesar’s Hill]. In the mid 3rd century Saint-Gatien converted some of the settlement to Catholicism and the town became the seat of an important bishopric.
In 375, Tours became the capital of the third Lyonaise, a province that included Anjou, Armorica, Maine and Touraine.
The province’s Christian community remained small until Saint-Martin became the bishop in 397.
In the 5th century, the town’s name was changed to Civitas Turonorum [City of the Turones].
That name later evolved into ‘Tours’.
In 471, a magnificent Basilica was constructed over Saint-Martin’s tomb.
In 473, the town was captured by the Visigoths.
In 507, during the reign of
Clovis I, which lasted from 481 to 511, Tours came under Frankish domination.
In 573, Saint-Gregory of Tours was elected bishop.
During the end of the 6th century, he constructed an abbey around the basilica.
The abbey became extremely rich with estates extending as far away as Berry and Bordelais.
In 594, Saint-Gregory of Tours died.
In 732, the Frankish king,
Charles Martel, defeated the Moors at a point between Tours and
The Moors had invaded France, from Spain, with the goal of conquering northern Europe.
This battle decisively stopped the Islamic invasion.
Subsequently, the town became the capital of Touraine.
During his reign, from 768 to 814, the emperor
Charlemagne established an intellectual life for Tours.
The Normans continued their incursions and pillages of the area, causing a protective wall to be built around Saint-Martin’s district.
Some 400 years later, in 1356, a common wall was built around both Châteauneuf [originally Saint-Martin’s district] and Tours.
Charles VII, who had settled in Tours, and
Henry VI of England, signed the Treaty of Tours.
Prosperity, in Tours, continued notwithstanding the
Hundred Years’ War [1337 to 1453], between the English and French kings.
Under the French
Valois kings, who retook the town from the English, Tours became an important commercial center.
Louis XI made Tours the French capital.
He subsequently established a silk industry there in 1462.
Concurrently, he authorized an elected civic council.
Edict of Nantes, in 1685, the town suffered an economic decline due to the emigration of the Huguenots to other regions and countries.
In the late 18th century, during the French Revolution, Tours served as an operations center against the Vendée royalists who were fighting against the Revolution.
Franco-Prussian War, Tours became the French provisional capital from October, 1870 until occupied by the Prussians in January, 1871.
Early in World War II, the French government evacuated
Paris and was headquartered in Tours during June 13 to 15, 1940.
It was there that Churchill met premier Paul Rayaud to try to persuade him not to enter into an armistice with Germany.
Later, a fourth of the town was destroyed during the bombardments preceding the German retreat. The war ravaged parts of the town were quickly rebuilt.
Four centuries of French religious architecture are summed up by the Gothic Cathédral de Saint-Gatiens.
The cathedral, which is located in the city’s eastern sector, was begun in the mid 13th century and finished in the 16th century.
The choir was built during the 13th century, the nave made the transition between the Flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance styles of architecture and the richly ornamented façade, with its magnificent stained-glass windows [some from the 13th century], was built during the period 1426 to 1547.
Tours has two other famous churches.
One is the 13th century Nortre Dame la Riche, which was restored during the 19th century.
The other is the 15th century Saint-Saturnin.
The ruins of the historic Basilica of Saint-Martin, which was completed around 470, is also found in the city.
All that remains of the basilica is the Romanesque Tour Charlemagne that is found in the place de Châteauneuf.
Next to the cathedral is the
Musée des Beaux-Arts. It overlooks classical gardens and a giant cedar of Lebanon that was planted in 1804.
The museum has a rich collection of paintings that is housed in the former 17th century archiepiscopal palace.
The rooms are decorated with silks, from Tours, and Louis XVI paneling. The paintings include those by Boucher, Caravaggio, Degas, Delacroix, Giraud, Nattier, Rigaud, Rubens and Rembrandt.
There are also sculptures by Bourdelle, Houdon and Moyne.
The University of Tours was founded in 1970.
Almost one-forth of Tours’ population consists of students, giving the city a vibrant character.
Tours is a trading center for dried fruit and for wine that originates in the fertile
Its products include automobile tires, building materials, chemicals, electrical equipment, footwear, machinery and machine tools, pharmaceuticals, printed matter, processed foods, silk, steel and textiles.
The city is also a banking and insurance center.
Tours is the main tourist center for the
Loire Valley and for excursions to the nearby historic chateaux of the Loire.