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Orval (Municipality, Cher, France)

Last modified: 2005-03-05 by
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[Flag of Orval]by Arnaud Leroy


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Presentation of Orval

Orval (2,300 inhabitants; 765 ha) is a small city located in the center of France, east of the bigger city of Saint-Amand-Montrond.

Remains from the late Age of Bronze have been found in Orval, as well as the remains of a Gallo-Roman agricultural estate (villa) or maybe a temple and a potter's oven.
In the Middle Ages, Orval belonged to the abbey of Déols, a Benedictine abbey founded in 917 by Ebbes le Noble and consecrated in 1107 by Pope Pascal II. The abbey of Déols was so wealthy that it was nicknamed "St. Peter's lifeblood". It disappeared in the XVIth century.
Later, Orval was the capital city of a domain that encompassed more or less the south of the today's department of Cher, and belonged to famous noble families such as Sully, Albret, Gonzague and Condé. The castle of Orval was trashed during the Hundred Years' War. Afterwards, the famous Orval fairs were transfered to the neighbouring city of Saint-Amand-Montrond, where they kept their original name (foires d'Orval) and still take place in automn.

The main historical building in Orval is the Saint Hilaire's church, built in the XIIth century, mostly known for its reliquary cross from XIIIth century (croix d'Orval). The cross is said to have been offered to Henri II de Sully, Lord of Orval, by King of France Saint-Louis (Louis IX). It was stolen in the XVIth century and given back to the parish of Orval in 1575. In the XVIIth century, the family of Condé added to the reliquary a base made of gilded silver. A legend says that the cross was stolen once again and traded against golden rings. The fence hid it in a thicket near the river Ombrée, from which it was extracted by a bull with its horns. The cross is made of gilded silver and its four arms end in a fleur-de-lys. On the main side of the cross are appended a Christ and another two golden fleur-de-lys. The socle, in shape of an inverted bowl, includes a glass reliquary. The arms of Condé are shown on the reverse of the socle.

The Ateliers d'Orval is a big factory stretching over 100,000 sq. m and served by a 17 km railway network. The Ateliers were originally boilerworks and are today mostly involved in soldering of steel, stainless steel and aluminum. They are specialized in the building and revamping of railway freight cars.

Orval has also a cheese dairy, founded in 1984, which produces traditional cheese from Berry, Marche and Bourbonnais with cow and goat milk.

Source: Website of the General Council of Cher

Ivan Sache, 27 November 2004


Municipal flag of Orval

The municipal flag of Orval, as seen by Pascal Vagnat, is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The coat of arms of Orval is:

Quartered, first and fourth azure three fleurs-de-lys or placed 2 and 1, second and third gules within a bordure engrailed argent.

Ivan Sache, 27 November 2004

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