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Famous Sons and Daughters

Some of the Loiret's most famous residents past and present

Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau
Born in Paris c. 1510
An architect and author whose legacy is still revered.
He published a series of highly influential engravings in Orléans, followed by treaties such as ‘The Most Excellent Buildings of France'. His work in Orléans included the Hôtel Groslot, and in Montargis he was responsible for the spectacular choir in the Eglise de la Madeleine.
Jacques came from a family of architects, and in Paris his son and brother collaborated on the Grand Gallery of the Louvre, the Pont-Neuf Bridge and the Tuileries palace...

Joan of Arc
1412 - 1431
Loyal to Charles VII and the voices she heard in her head, Joan of Arc entered Orléans on April 29th 1429 at the head of the royal armies, launching the Loire campaign which freed Jargeau, Meung-sur-Loire and Beaugency from English rule.
The Loiret is proud of its history and still celebrates Joan of Arc's exploits, setting off to reconquer France, leading Charles VII to his coronation in Reims. The Maid of Orléans would eventually be burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was beatified in 1909 and canonised in 1920.

Antoine-Cesar Becquerel
Physician born in Chatillon-Coligny. 
After studying at the Ecole Polytechnique Becquerel became an army Engineer, leaving the military in 1815 to devote his time to scientific pursuits. He was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1829. His greatest achievements included breakthroughs in the field of electrochemistry, inventing a prototype battery and playing a role in improving the quality of the soil in the Sologne area.

His grandson Henri Becquerel would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics, shared with Pierre and Marie Curie for their work in discovering radioactivity.

Louis Bleriot
1872 -1936
Blériot was a pioneer of aviation, whose first great test flight was from Toury to Artenay, passing over Beauce. In 1909 he became the first man to cross the English Channel in an aeroplane.

Aristide Bruant
1851- 1925
A celebrated Montmartre singer and personality, instantly recognisable with his great black hat, cape and red scarf, Bruant hailed from the Gâtinais region.
Born in Courtenay, he made regular visits to his old home even as his famous Parisian cabaret, the Mirliton, became a highly fashionable institution.

Jean Chopinel, aka Jehan De Meung
The poet known as Chopinel, born to a well-off noble family in Meung-sur-Loire, lived most of his life in Paris. He studied the refined arts of the day, excelling in poetry.
At the request of Philippe Le Bel, he embarked upon a continuation of the Roman de la Rose in around 1280; he added a total of 18,000 lines.

Born and raised in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Colette also lived in Chatillon-Coligny in the Gâtinais area, at the home of her brother Doctor Robineau. Here, amidst family concerns and her voracious reading, she met the author Willy. After their marriage, she moved to Paris and launched her literary career, including novels packed with memories and reflections on her Gâtinais childhood.

Alain Corneau
Alain Corneau was born in Meung-sur-Loire (Loiret) on August 7th 1943, and passed away in the night of August 29th-30th 2010. The son of a veterinarian, for which he was well-known in the town, Corneau studied at Lycée Pothier in Orléans, where he discovered the American military base and its exotic inhabitants. Thus began his passion for America, and above all its jazz, his first love. His cultural education also extended to literature and, of course, cinema, particularly film noir. After studies at IDHEC and the failure of his debut film, France Société Anonyme (1975), Corneau finally found success with crime thriller Police Python 357, shot in Orléans. Série Noire (79) was a critical and commercial success and catapulted him into the top tier of French directors. In the 1980s and 1990s he broadened his range, with films including Fort Saganne (84), Nocturne indien (89) and Tous les Matins du Monde monde (91)... Fear and Trembling (2002), an adaptation of the novel by Amélie Nothomb, was his last great success. His last film, Crime d'Amour, was released in 2010.
He was honoured with the Prix Louis Delluc, as well as César awards for Best Film and Best Director for Tous les Matins du Monde.

Marion Cotillard
Born in 1975, this French actress was awarded the top prize from the Orléans Conservatory for Drama in 1994. Her greatest performance to date is her much-lauded portrayal of Edith Piaf in the La Vie en Rose, a breathtakingly accurate and moving depiction which won her a Best Actress Oscar in 2008. The award marked Cotillard's ascension to A-list status, and made her the first French actress to win the Best Actress gong since Simone Signoret in 1960.

Gaston Coute
1880 - 1911
Born in Beaugency, Gaston Couté was a poet and songwriter.

Etienne Dolet
Born in Orléans in 1509, as a young man he was secretary to the ambassador to Venice; he went on to study law in Toulouse getting into a dispute with the local Parlement which saw him expelled from the city in 1534.
He set himself up as a printer in Lyon, attracting more condemnation and controversy for his satirical spirit and publication of various heretical works. Thrown in prison for these crimes, he was later hanged and burned at the stake for his alleged support for materialism, atheism and the doctrines of Martin Luther.

Maurice Genevoix
1890 - 1980
A novelist who went on to become life secretary of the Académie Française, Genevoix was deeply inspired by nature, and left behind him a great body of work which often celebrates the Sologne and the Loire.
1925: Raboliot
1975: Un jour

Paul Gauguin
1848 - 1903
The famous 19th-century painter spent his youth in Orléans

Max Jacob
For celebrated poet Max Jacob wit and spirit were highly-prized forms of beauty, and beauty was to be found in abundance in one of his favourite towns, Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire. It was here that he spent much of the last two decades of his life, before he was arrested by the Gestapo and ultimately died in the Drancy deportation camp.

Guillaume de Lorris
Thirteenth century poet born in Lorris.
He lived during the reign of Saint Louis, dying young c. 1260.
He was the original author of the Roman de la Rose, a courtly poem comprised of over 4000 octosyllabic lines.

Famous public figure of the Ancien Régime and tacit supporter of the "Lumières", as censor he permitted the publication of Diderot and D'Alembert's famous Encyclopaedia.
Caught in the upheaval of the Revolution, he took the king's side in the National Convention and met his end under the guillotine two years later. His family seat was the Château de Malesherbes near Pithiviers, a very fine example of an Ancien Régime country house.

Louis Pasteur
Orléans was a favourite destination for the famous doctor. It was here that he conducted his studies into the fermentation of vinegar, a process which brought great benefits for the vinegar-makers of Orléans.

Charles Péguy
1873 - 1914
Born in Orléans, Péguy led a tumultuous life. Of modest origins, throughout his years he juggled literary and political commitments. Recognised primarily for his talents as a writer, he was also an active socialist militant, editor/publisher and poet, until he engaged in one last combat which would cut short his life - the Great War.

1559- 1641
The name and political reputation of Maximillien de Béthune, Duke of Sully, will forever be associated with the reign of Henri IV, whom he served first as a companion in arms and later as first minister..
He was also the last famous proprietor of the medieval fortress of Sully-sur-Loire, which remained in the family until 1962.

Roger Toulouse
1918 - 1977
Born in Orléans in 1918 Toulouse received numerous prizes and awards from the School of Fine Arts in Orléans. He was an expressionist painter of international renown.

Francois Villon
Villon's poetry is remarkable for its lyricism and powerful sense of inspiration. The man himself led a tumultuous life, punctuated with spells of incarceration in the Château de Meung-sur-Loire and at Orléans.

Jean Zay
The career of this great politician, who served as member of parliament for the Loiret, is closely bound to the history of the Popular Front. Appointed Minister of Education by Léon Blum in 1936, he embarked upon a vast programme of school reforms in which the Loiret was used as a pilot region.
His legal reforms were too far ahead of their time to succeed, but the ideas he suggested would later inspire the reformers of the post-war era. He became a political prisoner during the war, and was assassinated by the fascist militia.

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