Last modified: 2015-04-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Orval - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 27 November 2004
The municipality of Orval (1,922 inhabitants in 2009; 765 ha) is located east 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 villa, maybe with a temple and a potter's oven.
In the Middle Ages, Orval belonged to the Benedictine abbey of Déols, founded in 917 by Ebbes the Noble and consecrated in 1107 by Pope Paschal II. The abbey of Déols, so wealthy that it was nicknamed "St. Peter's lifeblood", disappeared in the 16th century.
In the feudal times, Orval was the capital of a domain that encompassed more or less the south of the today's department of Cher, ruled famous noble lineages such as Sully, Albret, Gonzague and Condé. The castle of Orval was looted during the Hundred Years' War. The once famous Orval fairs were subsequently transfered to the neighbouring town of Saint-Amand-Montrond, where they are still organized in automn under their original name of Orval fairs.
The main historical building in Orval is the St. Hilaire church, built in the 12th century and housing the Cross of Orval, a reliquary cross from the 13th century. The cross is said to have been offered to Henri II de Sully, Lord of Orval, by King of France St. Louis (Louis IX). Stolen in the 16th century, the cross reappeared in Orval in 1575. A local legend says that the cross was stolen once again and traded against golden rings. Hidden in a thicket near river Ombrée, the cross was extracted by a bull with its horns. Made of gilded silver, the cross has its four arms ending in a fleur-de-lis. On the obverse of the cross are appended a Christ and another two golden fleurs-de-lis. 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. Originally
boilerworks, the factory is today mostly involved in soldering of steel,
stainless steel and aluminium for the building and revamping of railway freight cars.
The Orval cheese dairy, founded in 1984, produces traditional cheese from cow and goat milk.
Ivan Sache, 27 November 2004
The flag of Orval is white with the municipal coat of arms, "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Azure three fleurs-de-lis or, 2. and 3. Gules a bordure engrailed argent.
Pascal Vagnat, 27 November 2004