Saint-Vallier-sur-RhônePatrick Gardin Porte de DrômArdèche July 2018 St Vallier Drôme, France Views of St Vallier and the Rhone valley.
©Saint-Vallier-sur-Rhône|Patrick Gardin


remarkable heritage site

Saint-Vallier, a thousand year old city, is notably known as the birthplace of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henri II, son of François I, who reigned from 1547 to 1574, and whose beauty remained legendary. The history of the city goes back to Roman antiquity and has left a rich heritage. Saint-Vallier was classified as a Remarkable Heritage Site by the Ministry of Culture in 2020.

A little history

Installed on the edge of the village, outside its ramparts, the castle was built between 1060 and 1090 by the Count of Albon. It was then a fortress housing a garrison whose function was to protect the Dauphiné from invasions coming from the West. It was built on a square plan, flanked by corner towers. It was then passed on by marriage to the family of Diane de Poitiers, who was born there (on January 9, 1500, the most commonly accepted date) and spent much of her childhood there. At the beginning of the 16th century, following an accusation of treason against her father by François I, the towers were levelled and their height reduced to that of the walls. In 1584, the castle became the property of the La Croix de Chevrières family who still own it today. Important works were carried out in the middle of the 18th century: filling in of the moat, construction of an orangery, creation of gardens. Nowadays, the castle is still composed of a quadrangular main building and three circular towers in angle. Although it cannot be visited, its dominant position makes it visible from many viewpoints.

The church of Saint-Valère

The church of Saint-Valère has been listed as a historic monument since 1972. The primitive church, dating from the 12th century, is of Roman-Byzantine style. The apse and chancel, from the 16th century, are in the flamboyant Gothic style and house the Poitiers’ burial chapel, where Diane de Poitiers’ grandfather, father, and brother are buried, as well as her grandfather’s wife, Marie de Valois, the natural daughter of Louis XI. The bell tower was built by the inhabitants in the 17th century and the new bay in the 18th century in neo-Greek style. One can contemplate in the church many paintings, classified or registered as historical monuments, as well as magnificent procession banners.

The History Space

Run by passionate volunteers, the history space of Saint-Vallier (free admission) brings to life the great dates of the city, through several evocations ranging from prehistory to the Second World War. Among other things, one can admire the remains found during excavations (casts and skeletons dating back 2 million years) or a reconstruction of a costume worn by Diane de Poitiers in 1538.
The association also offers guided tours (groups only by appointment) of the city and its heritage.

Saint-Vallier-sur-Rhône, DrômeThe 17/09/2020. St Vallier © Porte de DrômArdèche Patrick Gardin
©Saint-Vallier-sur-Rhône, Drôme

The market of Saint-Vallier was held until 2010 in the grain market, by virtue of an authorization given by… King François I five centuries earlier! The current stone market hall was built in the 19th century to replace the old medieval wooden building.