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Valréas (Municipality, Vaucluse, France)


Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: vaucluse | valreas | vaurias | provence |
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[Flag of Valreas]

Flag hoisted over the town hall of Valréas - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 February 2007

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Presentation of Valréas

The municipality of Valréas (in Provencal, Vaurias; 9,425 inhabitants in 1999; 5,797 ha) is the capital of the canton (including also the municipalities of Grillan, Richerenches and Visan) known as the Papal Enclave, located north of Avignon and west of Nyons. The canton of Valréas still forms an enclave of the department of Vaucluse into the department of Drôme and an exclave of region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur into region Rhône-Alpes. It is probably the biggest enclave of that kind in France, so that it is shown on most administrative maps. When the department of Vaucluse was created in 1793, the enclave did not exist but the canton of Suze was reallocated to Drôme in 1800, recreating the Papal Enclave.

Valréas emerged in the Carolingian times as Valeriacum (Valerius' estate). The town was renamed later Valérias, Valrias (in Provencal, Vaurias), Vaulréas, Vauréas and eventually Valréas in the XIXth century.
In the early Middle Ages, the town was shared between several lords having different suzereigns. In 1317, Pope John XXII purchased Valréas and Richerenches, which was incorporated to Comtat Venaissin; Visan and Grillon were incorporated to the Enclave in 1344 and 1451, respectively. In the XVIth century, the judicature (administrative division) of Valréas grouped 32 municipalities; it was already separated from the rest of Comtat Venaissin by a stripe of land belonging to the Kingdom of France. In the XIIth century, Valréas mostly lives from grain cultivation and sheep breeding; the XIVth century was an age of decline because of increased brigandage in the region. In the XVth century, however, economic activity resumed with the introduction of orchards, clothmaking manufactures and tanneries; bee-keeping, as well as cultivation of grapevine and lavender and silkworm breeding were also developed.

In the beginning of the XIXth century, silkworm breeding became industrial and sericulture was the dominant activity in Valréas. The breeder Auguste Meynard asked Ferdinand Revoul to make small, ventilated cardboard boxes to keep the silkworm "seeds" (eggs). Revoul's egg boxes were then adapted to confectionery, perfumery and pharmacy. The need for labels caused the creation of local printing and lithography workshops. Valréas was once the European capital of cardboard industry, which is still very active in the region. The Cardboard Industry and Printing Museum, the only one of this kind in France, was inaugurated in Valréas in 1991.


Ivan Sache, 18 February 2007

Flag of Valréas

In December 2006, Dominique Cureau observed a flag horizontally divided yellow-red hoisted over the town hall of Valréas, the former castle of Simiane. The PR department of the municipality states that this was not a municipal flag but a flag symbolizing the belonging of Valréas to Provence. One might wonder why they do not use the well-known striped flag of Provence.

Ivan Sache, 18 February 2007

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