Visit Orleans (Loire Valley, France)
Orleans is on the Loire River and is the main city in the Loiret department, and also in the Centre (Loire valley) region. It is located south of Paris and east of Le Mans. It is a large town with more than 300 000 inhabitants.
The city is best known for its association with Joan of Arc (the Maid of Orléans), the peasant girl who heard God telling her to guide the King in his battle against the English - which she duly did. Joan helped defeat the English in the siege of Orleans, and ultimately to enable France to defeat the English. See the story of Joan of Arc for more details.
This story is very important to France and French history, and in Orleans you will see various tributes - for example the statue of Joan of Arc astride a horse in the Place du Martroi, and a chance to see the house where she lived, now carefully rebuilt after destruction in the Second World War, and maintained in its original 15th century condition in the Place du General de Gaulle.
Despite its central location in France a significant part of the historical centre of Orleans avoided damage during the Second World War, and the town has an extensive historic centre with many fine townhouses to admire.
One of the most splendid, and open to the public, is the Hotel Groslot in Place de l'Etape, a very ornate and distinguished 19th century red brick building with a fine interior of the period.
Other particularly fine 19th century 'hotels' (townhouses) include the renaissance Hotel Cabu (now a museum relating the history of Orléans); the original Orleans town hall (the Hotel des Creneaux), the Hotel Groslot and the Maison Jean-Dalibert.
There are also several attractive open squares, such as Place du Chatelet, lined with grand townhouses some of which date from the 16th century, and the Place du Martroi, which contains the 19th century statue of Joan of Arc.
One important Orleans highlight is the Cathedral Sainte-Croix, a 17th centre gothic style cathedral that has a great deal of impressive stonework ornamentation, in particular the facade which also features three large round windows and two square towers. The stained glass windows inside the cathedral were added in the year 2000.
Near the cathedral you can also see a part of the walls that surrounded the original roman town.
Other religious highlights in Orleans include the medieval Crypt of Saint-Aignan, a subterranean ensemble of chapels dating from the early middle ages, and the remains of the Minimes convent and cloister.
Your first stop on visiting should be the Orleans tourist office, because there are many other interesting sites of note including several churches and other historically important buildings.
Museums and parks
There are several well maintained parks and gardens in Orleans to discover and enjoy for example Parc Pasteur, the Parc Floral de la Source (a large park that gains its name because the Loiret river has its source in the park), and the 19th century botanical gardens at Jardin des Plantes.
The museums here include those dedicated to Natural Sciences and the History and Archaeology of Orleans. The most important museum in Orleans is the Museum of Fine Arts which has a very extensive collection of paintings and art works, mostly dating from the 16th to 18th centuries and including a famous painting of saint thomas the Apostle by Velasquez.
As you would expect from a city the size of Orleans, there are a very large range of shops and restaurants, and all other facilities. The town has a large number of shops specialising in antiques. Several markets are held in the town each week, and tourists also enjoy the friday evening market in Place du Martroi.
Photos taken within 10 km
Tourist classifications for Orleans
Orleans is classified as a listed town of Art and History
Address: Orléans, Loiret, Loire Valley, 45000 || GPS: latitude 47.9025, longitude 1.909
Map of Orleans & places nearby
Highlights close by
Chateau de Chambord 44km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Orleans, France
- Saint-Jean-de-la-Ruelle - ville fleurie 4* (3km)
- Fleury-les-Aubrais - ville fleurie 4* (3km)
- Olivet - ville fleurie 4* (4km)
- Parc Floral de la Source - remarkable garden (6km)
- Saint-Cyr-en-Val - ville fleurie 4* (9km)
- Les prés-Culand - remarkable garden (18km)
- Beaugency - recommended detour (25km)
- Arboretum des grandes bruyères - remarkable garden (25km)
- Abbaye de Saint Benoît sur Loire (Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire Abbey) - religious monument (31km)
- Talcy Chateau - national monument (38km)
Market days in Orleans: Regular market(s) are held in Orleans each every day except Monday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Orleans (Francais)