When the cities of Dundee and Orléans were first twinned in 1946 the organisation of the twinning was looked after by the Dundee-Orléans Fellowship, largely made up of the group who had run a club for the Free French submariners based in Dundee throughout the Second World War.
History & Background
After the Franco-German Armistice in June 1940, three submarines of the Free French Navy were based in Dundee for the duration of the war and fought on behalf of the Allies. Dundonians set up a club in Dundee's Nethergate for these Free French submariners and thus Dundee had a particular connection with the French in war-time, so that when, after D-Day it was proposed that Scottish towns and cities "adopt" newly liberated French towns and cities, Dundee "adopted" Orléans. Orléans, 80 miles south-west of Paris and situated at a vital crossing point on the great River Loire, suffered severe bomb and fire damage both in 1940 and 1944.
Dundee's Lord Provost Sir Garnet Wilson was invited to go to Orléans in 1946 to be officially thanked for Dundee's help. This was followed in 1947 by a return visit to Dundee by members of Orléans City Council led by the Mayor Dr Pierre Chevallier. Since 1948 Dundee has been represented at the famous Joan of Arc Festivities which take place each year in Orléans on May 8th and every post-war Lord Provost has visited our oldest twin.
The first school exchange between secondary school pupils took place in 1947 and these official pupil exchanges continued every year until the mid-1990s. From 1947 until he retired in 1965 the Orléans students were accompanied by Monsieur Clovis Duveau who became very well known to Dundonians as their guide and interpreter during visits to Orléans. In 1996 as part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the twinning between the two cities, a street in Dundee was named after Monsieur Duveau who, at the age of 96 was able to be present at the official naming of Clovis Duveau Drive. In the same year Evelyn Hood, who has been involved with the link since 1951, was made a Citoyen d'Honneur de la Ville d'Orléans.
Since 1946 Dundonians and Orléans quite literally in their thousands have exchanged visits. Apart from civic exchanges, these include several thousand school children, golfers, Rotarians, members of the legal profession, people in the hospitality industries, city centre managers, personnel from the Planning Departments, broadcasters, choral societies, rugby teams, walking clubs, cycle teams, university and college students, teachers, doctors and nurses, amateur artists, members of the Orléans and Dundee Universities of the Third Age ... Throughout the years a great number of personal and family friendships have been established so that there are exchange visits taking place at all times - and there's been a wedding or two as well!
To mark the 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries of the twinning, Testaments were signed renewing the bonds and we look forward to celebrating our 75th anniversary in 2021.
In 1993 Lord Provost Tom McDonald brought together people who had been involved in twinning activities between Dundee and her four sister cities and the Twinning Associations were formed. In recent years Lord Provost John Letford set up a Twinning Room within City Chambers for the use of the Twinning Associations.
The Dundee-Orléans Association has as its aim the fostering and furthering of the excellent relations between the two cities. The Association has an annually elected Management Committee and acts as a source of reference and information for anyone who would like to participate in twinning activities, or who would simply like to visit our beautiful and historic French twin.
Many members of the Association know Orléans well and are able to offer groups and individuals practical and detailed advice on planning a visit - either as a tourist or an exchange. The Association is in regular contact with the Bureau des Relations Exterieures in the Orléans Town Hall and with the Orléans Office des Tourisme.
Dundee's French twin is the perfect centre, an hour's journey by train from Paris, to visit the wonderful Loire Valley and its magnificent chateaux.
The city of Orléans, like Dundee, owes its ancient origins to its position on the banks of a great river. Down the centuries Roman, Viking, English, and German invaders have all sought to control this vital crossing place on the Loire - France's longest river and key to the heart of France. Long famous for its part in the story of Joan of Arc, Orléans is the present-day capital of the département of Loiret and the capital of the Centre Region.
With the vast fertile agricultural hinterland of the Beauce and the Gâtinais surrounding it in the north bank of the river and the great royal hunting forests of the Sologne on the south side, Orléans was always one of France's principal centres of food production and trading.
From the 12th century right up to the founding of the early Scottish Universities, the University of Orléans was where many young Scots sought their education, particularly in law and theology. And the city's connection with Scotland was also reinforced by the involvement of many Scots on the French side in the Hundred Years' War with England. When the English besieged Orléans in October 1428 it was the Scottish Constable of France - John Stuart of Darnley - who led the first attempt to relieve the city in February 1429. The army which Joan of Arc led into the city three months later contained several hundred Scots - and the Bishop of Orléans who greeted Joan was John Kirkmichael, a priest from Crail who had studied at Orléans University and remained in France. He attended the Dauphin's coronation later that year and also instituted the annual parade to commemorate the relief of the city. This parade, in which a young girl represents Joan, is the culmination of ceremonies which have taken place annually ever since.
Among Joan's Scottish captains on that day was Patrick Ogilvy from Airlie in Angus. He was later severely wounded when he tried to defend her at the moment of her capture. Patrick Ogilvy and other Scottish captains are commemorated on a plaque in an old street in Orléans named 'The Street of the Scottish Sword'. John Stuart of Darnley was buried in Orléans Cathedral where there is also a memorial plaque. The nearby town of Aubigny-sur-Nere was part of the John Stuart's French estate and to this day is proud of its Scottish connection - the Aubigny Town Council always takes part in the Joan of Arc parade, wearing the kilt and accompanied by bagpipes as they march along!
In 1560 young Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and of France, was at her dying husband's side in Orléans. Mary had spent much of her childhood in the surrounding countryside. But this wasn't the end of Orléans links with Scotland since after the two Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th century, the area became a place of refuge for many Stuart followers. To this day there are Macleods, Macnabs, Mackies and Macdonalds in the area - and Amiltons who have lost their "h" over the years!
In 1940 hundreds of thousands of refugees from Paris, Belgium and the north of France converged on Orléans in an attempt to flee the advancing German army. The city and its people suffered horrendously from airborne and land-based attacks and much of the city centre was destroyed by fire. There was further appalling damage done at the time of liberation in August 1944. But the city recovered to become once again one of France's great commercial centres.
In the aftermath of the war the old city on the north bank of the Loire was beautifully rebuilt and restored. A new second city was built south of the river and it is there at Orléans La Source the city's ancient university was re-established in the 1960s. Apart from modern high technology industries Orléans now houses France's national crop and geological research stations and the city's Parc Floral is famous for its national flower and tree collections.
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