Orléanais ôrlāänā´ [key], region and former province, N central France, on both sides of the Loire River. Orléans, the historic capital, Chartres, and Blois are the chief cities. The region includes Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, and parts of Eure-et-Loir and Yonne depts. Beauce in the north, Little Beauce in the west, and Gâtinais in the east are rich agricultural districts; the large ancient forest of Orléans (northeast of the city) occupies the center of the region. The fertile Loire valley yields fruits, vegetables, and grapes and is dotted by many fine châteaux, notably Blois and Chambord. South of the Loire bend is the swampy Sologne Plain, which has been considerably improved by drainage. The nucleus of the Orléanais has been part of the royal domain since the time of Hugh Capet (10th cent.); see Capetians. Although Orléanais is one of the areas of France least affected by Roman civilization, there are abundant ruins of fortresses and churches from the Carolingian period (c.7th cent.).
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