Orléans: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: October 25, 2022

Situated on the Loire River, quite close to the geographical centre of France, Orléans is the capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region, the region of the Châteaux de la Loire. In the past it was also the temporary capital of the kingdom, when the kings of France and their court moved from one city to another without a fixed capital. The city is also linked to the epic of Joan of Arc.

01. Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc is closely associated with Orléans, where she won her first victory in 1429. In the superstitious world of the Middle Ages, she was soon credited with supernatural powers, which facilitated her subsequent military successes. She managed to have the new king of France crowned before being captured. She was executed in Rouen in 1431.

02. The Loire

At the time of Joan of Arc, the Loire River formed the border between the lands controlled by the King of France and those to the north under English rule. Although it was not navigable, the river helped with travel, particularly with the traditional flat-bottomed gabare. Today, attempts are being made to increase its potential as a place of leisure and entertainment.

03. Joan of Arc House

This is the house where Joan of Arc stayed during her stay in Orléans. However, the building was completely renovated in the 20th century, preserving its original appearance. It mainly contains an archive centre dedicated to Joan of Arc for research purposes. On the ground floor there is a room for audio-visual presentations for visitors.

04. Hôtel Groslot

The delicate Renaissance architecture of the Hôtel Groslot stands out from the rest of the city. Built in the mid-16th century, it was once occupied by King François II and his court at a time when the kings of France moved from place to place in the Loire Valley. It was then the Hôtel de Ville, and today it continues to host wedding ceremonies.

05. Cathedral

The silhouette of the Sainte-Croix Cathedral stands at the end of Orléans’ main street. Like most cathedrals in old cities, it is the result of a series of constructions and reconstructions. The Romanesque and then the Gothic cathedrals collapsed, and it was from the 17th century onwards that the present sanctuary was built.

06. Bishop’s Palace

Behind the cathedral is the elegant residence of the bishops of Orléans, preceded by a small, quiet garden. The 17th century building was converted into a military hospital during the First World War. Bought by the city, it was then used as a library before being used for university activities. It has been well renovated and its simple façade makes it a nice building.

07. Campo Santo

For several centuries this was the large cemetery in the centre of Orléans, surrounded by large arcades in the 15th century. Now the basement is occupied by an underground car park, while the large space above ground was once a grain market. The whole complex has now been renovated and is used for many events throughout the year, such as the medieval market.

08. Old town

The Old Town can be clearly identified from the bank of the Loire to the main street, which separates it from the more recent districts. Most of this area has been preserved and restored, the streets have become pedestrianised and the terraces are generously spread out over the public space. It is worth strolling through the small streets lined with old dwellings.

09. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts has a fine collection of old paintings and sculptures. Some of the exhibition rooms have high ceilings, so the works have been hung in several rows as they were in the past. There is also precious furniture and decorative objects in order to preserve the knowledge of what was beautiful.

10. La Source Floral Park

A little outside the city centre, but with direct access by tram, from an estate of 400 hectares, the city has kept 35 hectares to form the floral park around the source of the Loiret. This is in fact the water of the Loire that has taken an underground route and which suddenly reappears. The rest of the space around it is occupied by the university campus.

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