Valence is a commune in south-eastern France, the capital of the département of Drôme, situated on the left bank of the Rhône, 65 miles south of Lyon on the railway to Marseille.
Known in ancient times as Valentia, the city was the capital of the Segalauni , and the seat of a celebrated school prior to the Roman conquest. It became a colony under Augustus, and was an important town of Viennensis Prima under Valentinian. It was the seat of a bishopric perhaps as early as the 4th century.
It was ravaged by the Alani and other barbarians, and fell successively under the power of the Burgundians, the Franks, the Arabs of Spain, the sovereigns of Arles, the emperors of Germany, the dukes of Valentinois , the counts of Toulouse, as well as its own bishops. These bishops were often in conflict with the citizens and the dukes of Valentinois , and to strengthen their hands against the latter the pope in 1275 united their bishopric with that of Die.
The citizens put themselves under the protection of the dauphin, and in 1456 had their rights and privileges confirmed by Louis XI and put on an equal footing with those of the rest of Dauphiné, the bishops consenting to recognize the suzerainty of the dauphin. In the 16th century Valence became the center of Protestantism for the province in 1563. The town was fortified by King Francois I. It became the seat of a celebrated university in the middle of the 15th century; but the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 struck a fatal blow at its industry, commerce and population.
The cathedral of St. Apollinaris , which has an interesting apse, was rebuilt in the 11th century in the Romanesque style of Auvergne and consecrated in 1095 by pope Urban II. It suffered extensive damage in the French Wars of Religion, but it was restored in the first decade of the 17th century. The porch and the stone tower above it were rebuilt in 1861. The church contains the monument of Pius VI, who died at Valence in 1799. The library and the museum containing Roman antiquities, sculptures and a picture gallery, are housed in the old ecclesiastical seminary.
The most notable of the monuments erected it this city to its natives include those to Émile Augier the dramatist by the duchess of Uzès (1897), and to General Championnet.
The industries of the city include metallurgical products, textiles, leather goods, jewelry and munitions, and it also serves as a processing and trade center for the surrounding agricultural region.
Some of the big hi-tech companies settled here are leading in their domains like Thales (Former Thomson-CSF, electronic systems for avionics and defence), Crouzet /Schneider (Automatic systems), Alcatel space (Aerospatial systems), Ascom Monetel (Automatic paytax systems), etc.
Colleges and universities
Valence is now developing its high level educational role in the Drôme/Ardèche area with one engineering school, one IUT (Institut Universitaire de Technologie ), three universities (UPMF, UJF, Stendhal) and many schools.