Blois

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For other uses, see Blois (disambiguation).
Blois
Panoramic view of Blois on the Loire River
Panoramic view of Blois on the Loire River
Coat of arms of Blois
Coat of arms
Blois is located in France
Blois
Blois
Coordinates: 47°35′38″N 1°19′41″E / 47.5939°N 1.3281°E / 47.5939; 1.3281Coordinates: 47°35′38″N 1°19′41″E / 47.5939°N 1.3281°E / 47.5939; 1.3281
Country France
Region Centre
Department Loir-et-Cher
Arrondissement Blois
Intercommunality Blois
Government
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Marc Gricourt (PS)
Area
 • Land1 37.46 km2 (14.46 sq mi)
Population (2009)
 • Population2 46,013
 • Population2 density 1,200/km2 (3,200/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 41018 / 41000
Elevation 63–135 m (207–443 ft)
(avg. 73 m or 240 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Blois (French pronunciation: ​[blwɑ]) is a city & the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.

History[edit]

Though of ancient origin, Blois is first distinctly mentioned by Gregory of Tours in the 6th century, and the city gained some notability in the 9th century, when it became the seat of a powerful countship with «Blesum castrum» («Le château de Blois»). In 1171, Blois was the site of a blood libel against its Jewish community that led to 31 Jews (by some accounts 40) being burned to death.[1] Their martyrdom also contributed to a prominent and durable school of poetry inspired by Christian persecution.[2] In 1196, Count Louis granted privileges to the townsmen; a commune, which survived throughout the Middle Ages, probably dated from this time. The counts of the Châtillon line resided at Blois more often than their predecessors, and the oldest parts of the château (from the thirteenth century) were built by them. In 1429, Joan of Arc made Blois her base of operations for the relief of Orléans. Joan of Arc rode the thirty-five miles on Wednesday 29 April to Blois to relieve Orléans.[3] After his captivity in England, Charles of Orléans in 1440 took up his residence in the château, where in 1462 his son, afterwards Louis XII, was born. In the 16th century Blois was often the resort of the French court. The Treaty of Blois, which temporarily halted the Italian Wars, was signed there in 1504–1505.

The city's inhabitants included many Calvinists, and in 1562 and 1567 it was the scene of struggles between them and the supporters of the Catholic Church. In 1576 and 1588 Henri III, king of France, chose Blois as the meeting-place of the States-General, and in 1588 he brought about the murders of Henry, duke of Guise, and his brother, Louis, archbishop of Reims and cardinal, in the Château, where their deaths were shortly followed by that of the queen-mother, Catherine de' Medici. From 1617 to 1619 Marie de' Medici, wife of King Henri IV, exiled from the court, lived at the château, which was soon afterwards given by King Louis XIII to his brother Gaston, Duke of Orléans, who lived there till his death in 1660.

The bishopric, seated at Blois Cathedral, dates from the end of the 17th century. In 1814 Blois was for a short time the seat of the regency of Marie Louise, wife of Napoleon I.

Blois was occupied during World War II by the German army, which took the city on 18 June 1940. The city was liberated by American soldiers during the last two weeks of August 1944. On both occasions, the city withstood several days of bombing.

Population[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1793 13,280 —    
1800 14,900 +12.2%
1806 13,054 −12.4%
1821 15,147 +16.0%
1831 13,138 −13.3%
1836 13,628 +3.7%
1841 16,156 +18.6%
1846 17,149 +6.1%
1851 17,749 +3.5%
1856 17,749 +0.0%
1861 20,331 +14.5%
1866 20,068 −1.3%
1872 19,860 −1.0%
1876 20,515 +3.3%
1881 21,077 +2.7%
1886 22,150 +5.1%
1891 23,457 +5.9%
1896 23,542 +0.4%
Year Pop. ±%
1901 23,789 +1.0%
1906 23,972 +0.8%
1911 23,955 −0.1%
1921 23,989 +0.1%
1926 23,991 +0.0%
1931 24,607 +2.6%
1936 26,025 +5.8%
1946 26,774 +2.9%
1954 28,190 +5.3%
1962 33,838 +20.0%
1968 42,264 +24.9%
1975 49,778 +17.8%
1982 47,243 −5.1%
1990 49,318 +4.4%
1999 49,062 −0.5%
2006 48,487 −1.2%
2009 46,013 −5.1%

Sights[edit]

The Château de Blois, a Renaissance château once occupied by King Louis XII, is located in the centre of the city, and an 18th-century stone bridge spans the Loire. As Blois is built on a pair of steep hills, winding and steep pathways run through the city, culminating in long staircases at various points. To the south of the city, the Forêt de Russy is a reminder of the thick woods that once covered the area.

La Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin (The House of Magician Robert-Houdin) is a museum fronting on the Château. As a museum of France, it is the only public museum in Europe which incorporates in one place collections of magic and a site for permanent performing arts, and is directly linked to the personality of Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin.[4][5][6][7]

Transport[edit]

The Gare de Blois railway station offers direct connections to Paris, Orléans, Tours, Nantes and several regional destinations. The A10 motorway connects Blois with Paris, Orléans and Tours.

Personalities[edit]

Bridge over the Loire in Blois
Château de Blois (view from the west)

Blois was the birthplace of:

International relations[edit]

Blois is twinned with:

  • Germany Waldshut-Tiengen, Germany, since 30 June 1963
  • Germany Weimar, Germany, since 18 February 1995
  • United Kingdom Lewes, United kingdom, since 30 June 1963[8]
  • Romania Sighişoara, Romania, since 18 November 1995
  • Italy Urbino, Italy, since 1 May 2003 ("friendship protocol")
  • Vietnam Huế, Vietnam, since 23 May 2007

Fictional references[edit]

Athos, the count of La Fère (from Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers) has a castle in Blois, in Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne (still from the same author).

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Martyrs of Blois
  2. ^ JEWISH POETRY Jewish Poetry And Martyrdom In Medieval France. Susan L. Einbinder. Princeton University Press. 2002.
  3. ^ Smith, John, Holland (1973). "Joan of Arc." New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  4. ^ Blois, La Maison de la Magie at virtourist.com
  5. ^ "Mussee de la Magie.". 
  6. ^ "Travel signposts, Paris Museum of Magic.". 
  7. ^ "Keck, Gayle, Washington Post, And Now for Paris' Next Trick.". The Washington Post. 12 June 2005. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns [via WaybackMachine.com]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 

External links[edit]