|Intercommunality||Les Deux Rives de la Région de Saint-Vallier|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Jacques Cheval|
|• Land1||5.42 km2 (2.09 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||740/km2 (1,900/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||26333 / 26240|
|Elevation||131–364 m (430–1,194 ft)
(avg. 158 m or 518 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.
The town is situated on the bank of the River Rhone, 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Valence. The River Galaure flows northwest through the southern part of the commune, crosses the town, then flows into the Rhone, which forms the commune's western border. The town covers an area of 464 hectares and has just over four thousand inhabitants. It is the county town of the canton and is important as an administrative, industrial and commercial centre. It has developed in a linear fashion along the bank of the Rhone and has a catchment area of about fifteen thousand inhabitants. It has a number of factories and industrial units making aviation parts, ceramic insulators, nuclear taps, tiles and stationery.
The Roman town of Ursuli was built on this site at the confluence of the Galaure and the Rhone. In the eighteenth century, feldspar and kaolin were found in the area and an industry grew up making hard-paste porcelain fired at a high temperature. In 1944, an American plane, on a mission to bomb a railway line, accidentally dropped bombs on the south part of the town causing many deaths and much damage. The Château de Diane de Poitiers was built in the fifteenth century. It is flanked by corner towers that dominate the Galaure River. The château is surrounded by a landscaped garden designed by Le Nôtre. Château des Rioux is another ancient castle beside the three hectare Parc à l'Anglaise. It originally housed a religious community of monks but was rebuilt in the nineteenth century by Comte Dupeyroux de Salmagne. It offers accommodation in a gite and four guest chambers. The old city walls are still visible on the Place Orsolles and there is a covered market, built in 1852. There is also a Historical and Archaeological Museum.
Near Saint-Vallier is a fossil bed that serves as a biostratigraphical reference locality. Flowing water has buried the remains of animals over many millennia and careful excavations can help paleontologists understand the relative ages of different rock strata according to the different fossil remains found. This is one of only two locations in which fossils of the extinct badger species Meles thorali have been found.
Saint-Vallier is the birthplace of Diane de Poitiers, one of the most well-known of French royal mistresses, born in 1499. She became the favourite of Henry II of France and wielded much power until he was fatally wounded in 1559 in a jousting tournament and his widow, Catherine de' Medici, expelled her from the court.
View of the town and castle in 1809, from a painting of C.L. Panckoucke
- "Ville de Saint Vallier" (in French). Office de Tourisme du Pays de Saint Vallier. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "Château des Rioux". Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "Saint-Vallier, France Holidays". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- Valli, Andrea (2004). "Taphonomy of Saint-Vallier (Drôme, France), the reference locality for the biozone MN17 (Upper Pliocene)". Lethaia 37 (3): 337–350. doi:10.1080/00241160410002072.
- Baryshnikov, G. F.; Puzachenko, A. Y.; Abramov, A. V. (2003). "New analysis of variability of cheek teeth in Eurasian badgers (Carnivora, Mustelidae, Meles)". Russian Journal of Theriology 1 (2): 133–149.
- Wellman, Kathleen (2011). "Diane de Poitiers: An Idealized Mistress". Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France. Yale UP. pp. 196–236. ISBN 9780300190656.
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