Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Montargis, France - visited July 13, 2012

Montargis, with a population of 15,000, is the second largest town in the Loiret department after Orléans and is about 68 miles south of Paris. With numerous canals and bridges, it sometimes bills itself as the "Venice of the Gâtinais", Gâtinais being a former province of France prior to being absorbed into the Loiret department.
The town is known from ancient times and numerous Gallo-Roman artifacts have been found in the area, many of which are in the town's Gâtinais Museum. Later, the town became a stronghold of the Frankish king Clovis 1st before falling into the hands of the house of Courtenay, who fortified a château on a hill overlooking the town. The town was ceded to the king of France in 1188 and became a royal residence in the 14th and 15th centuries.
In 1427, during the Hundred Years' War, the Earl of Warwick besieged the town, beginning a bombardment on July 15 of that year. On September 5, a French force of 1600 men broke the siege, led by Jean de Dunois and La Hire, commanders who would go on to lead the army of Joan of Arc.
After the 100 Years War, Charles VII rewarded the town for its valor by granting it various privileges and, in 1490, Charles VIII officially declared Montargis Le Franc - tax-free. The acronym, MLF, appears in the official coat of arms and the town remained free of taxes for three centuries, until the French Revolution.
In the time of Louis XIII a local shop that is still in existence first produced what became known as praline, the crunchy candy made from almonds in cooked sugar. Less romantic is the rubber factory, built in the 1880s, in the Châlette district that today employs 2000 workers in the production of tires and parts for vehicles and appliances.
More pictures of this workaday town here.

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