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Visit Orléans Loire Valley, France 

Orléans is a key city in French history and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley. The large heritage of the city is highlighted in the recently renovated old city center, from Ancient Rome, to Medieval or Renaissance periods, from the 17th to 20th centuries. But Orléans is not stuck in the past, and the city is not only a major Loire Valley sights with its cobblestone streets and it whitewashed facades. It is also the head of the Centre-Loire Valley region, a big and dynamic city with a night life, a bustling town center and a lively Loire River Waterfront.
Visit Orléans is not only visit a city but also a great surrounding which includes amazing natural and historical sights, as an easy access to famous Loire Valley Châteaux. The city deserves a stop if you visit the Loire Valley and is also a great weekend destination as it is the closest Loire Valley point from Paris (+/- 115 km). We propose a large Orléans sightseeing tour offer and we will be happy to guide you during your stay in Orléans.

Why Visit Orléans Loire Valley?

Visit Orléans: View of George V Bridge and the cathedral from one of the city green area in the south bank of the Loire River. Credit Zebulon72 Pixabay.
Visit Orléans: the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley area. Since 2003 Orléans old city center have been systematically restored and there are now plenty of multicolored half-timbered houses to see there.©Broaden Horizons
Visit Orléans: Bording Orléans in the south is the Sologne Forest, Natura 2000 largest European Site, with its magnificent ponds – Credit Emlew Pixabay

Orléans is the Capital of the “Région Centre-Val de Loire”

Meaning that Orléans is the capital city of the Loire Valley region.

A City With More than 2000 Years of History

A heritage twice recognized nationally and internationally as Orléans is part of:

Orléans is a Green City

The old city is now a large pedestrian walkway, the Loire quayside are a popular stroll place and plenty of green spaces await for you in the south of the city.

A City Surrounded by Nature

  • The Forêt d’Orléans : France’s largest national forest
  • The Sologne: Natura 2000 largest European Site of Community Importance

Orléans is Also Surrounded by Loire Valley Heritage Sites

Some of the famous Loire Valley Châteaux are easily accessible from Orléans, but you will also discover in the east of the city an off-the-beaten-track Loire Valley with one of the most impressive Loire Valley Castles: Le château de Sully-sur-Loire.

The Intersection of Tree Famous Routes

    • Loire by Bike
    • Camino de Compostela (Way of Saint James)
    • Way of Saint Michael : from Monte Gargano (Italia) to Mont-Saint-Michel (France)

Loire Valley Wines

Till 19th century Orléans region was one of the most important wine producers in France. The city is still bordered by two vignards the Orléans and Orléans-Cléry.

The closest Loire Valley Sight From Paris at Only +/- 115 km

A highway easily connects the city to Paris and Intercity or regional trains drive you from Paris-Austerlitz station to Orléans in +/- 1 hour.

Orléans is an ideal weekend destination for a city break in the south of Paris

What to see, what to visit in Orléans Loire Valley?

Visit Orléans and see Joan of Arc sculpture by Princess Marie d'Orléans. Orléans Loire Valley, France.

Visit Orléans: Joan of Arc sculpture by Princess Marie d’Orléans  © Broaden Horizons.

Joan of Arc

  • A long and rich history, with a lot of French historical milestones, role of Joan of Arc, in 1429 in the siege of Orléans, is one of them.
  • Joan of Arc, often called the Maid of Orléans is the city heroine. Orléans is the right spot to learn more about her.
  • The Maison de Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc house) is a dedicated documentation center. A short movie about her life is shown there. 
  • 10 stained-glass windows show main scenes of Joan of Arc live in the Orléans cathedral where she prayed during the Orléans campaign.
  • The Joan of Arc Orléans Walking Tour is designed for those who want to know more about the French heroine.

Orléans Rich and Diverse Architecture 

In the recently renovated old city center, you will find plenty of historical buildings covering a vast variety of style and periods :

  • Gallo-Roman city wall vestiges
  • Medieval stone houses
  • A gothic belfry (city tower)
  •  Timbered houses of different periods
  • A rich Loire Valley Renaissance heritage from traders’ houses to prestigious royal related mansions
  • 17th-century mansions in Paris-Le-Marais” like style
  • Classic and Neoclassic buildings
  • An Art Deco district 
  • Some Art Nouveau houses,
  • post WWII experimental reconstruction district

Our Orléans guided tours are the ideal tools to discover the vast city architectural heritage.

The hôtel des Créneaux's facade an emblematic monument of the transition between Gothic and Renaissance period, to be discover a visit of Orléans
Visit Orléans: Detail of hôtel des Créneaux’s facade an emblematic monument of the transition between Gothic and Renaissance period. © Broaden Horizons.

The cathedral Sainte-Croix in Orleans the monument not to miss during you visit of Orléans

Visit Orléans: Sainte-Croix-Cathedral © Broaden Horizons.

Monuments to Visit in Orléans

  • Sainte-Croix huge gothic cathedral is an exceptional monument by many aspects. If you want to attend the mass there check the cathedral’s mass schedules. If you want to know more about the monument, we propose a cathedral Sainte-Croix dedicated tour
  • Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier 12th-century romanesque collegial-church. The former collegial is now dedicated to contemporary art exhibitions.
  • 12th to 13th-century choir columns of St.-Donatien church and its “La Salette” Marian chapel.
  • Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance church and its 16th century (1525) stained glass.
  • Hôtel Groslot Renaissance historical mansion where died the young king of France François II his wife was Mary Stuart. 

    Right Bank Loire Quayside

    The Loire quayside, On the Right bank of the Loire River can be divided in three zones:

    • Central part of the quays (between Thinat and George V bridges) : the remains of the former Orléans port are now a popular promenade along the river. Since the begin of the years 2000 the “place de Loire” is the heart of this Orléans strategic touristic one.
    • West of the quays (from George V to  “de l’Europe” bridges) where the promenade continues.
    • East of the quay (from Thinat bridge to chemin de hallage) where takes place every saturday morning the Orléans Food Market. Furthermore you will also find there the first lock of the Orléans Canal and at the end of the promenade the beginning of the “chemin de hallage”.

    Orléans Canal Towpath (chemin de hallage) 

    This walk follows the Orléans Canal and the Loire River to the east. Walk along this path in a sunny day is a must to enjoy the most authentic and typical atmosphere of the Loire Valley.

    If you visit Orléans the new Place de Loire is now a strategic place of the city. Orléans, Loire Valle, France.
    Visit Orléans The “place de Loire”, in the background the Orléans quays are the remains of the Former Port of Orléans, now a popular place to take a stroll along the Loire River © Broaden Horizons 

    Orléans City Center Parks & Gardens

    Among all the Orléans parks and gardens the most central and famous are the next:

    • Parc Pasteur : a 19th-century garden idéal for children with children dedicated small train, merry-go-round, etc.
    • De l’Evêché Garden : situated just behind the cathedral it is the garden of the former bishop palace.
    • Veille Intendance Garden alongside an historical Renaissance mansion.
    • Campo Santo : a lawn where is organized the medieval market during the Joan of Arc Festival.
    • The Jacques Bouchet garden where is a late Renaissance building is situated behind the house of Joan of Arc.
    • The hôtel Groslot Garden : this 19th century house the remains of the Saint-James’s Chapel.
    The hôtel Groslot romantic garden is a classic when visiting Orléans in Loire Valley, France.
    Visit Orléans The hôtel Groslot romantic garden. © Broaden Horizons 
    Jardin de la Charpenterie a new hanging garden with a view on the Loire River
    Visit Orléans Jardin de la Charpenterie, a strategic location in Orléans historical center. © Broaden Horizons 

    Two New Gardens in Orléans City Center

    Two new gardens were created as a part of the Orléans city center renovation.

    • The Jardin de la charpenterie is a terrasse, a hanging garden open on the Loire River. This garden is situated in a very strategic place in the heart of historical city center which is a walking zone full of restaurants and monuments.
    • Hélène Cadou Garden : this garden lies alongside the hôtel de la Motte-Sanguin mansion built during the French Revolution by Louis-Philippe II, Duke of Orléans father of the last King of the French.     

    Jardin des Plantes (Botanic Garden)

    The Botanic Garden (Jardin des plantes) is a 3.5-hectares park where is organised each year in September the Orléans International Rose Contest

    Parc Floral de la Source

    The La Source Parc Floral, is a 35-hectares garden with its 17th-century château. Appart from huge numbers of vegetal species of the park, main attractions are the next:

    • Exotic butterfly glasshouse (a magic place)
    • Small Tourist Train
    • Menagerie (small zoo) 

    The interactive map of the park will show you all of them.

    Visit Orléans and discover the amazing Parc Floral one of France most famous gardens.
    Visit Orléans amazing view of the Orléans Parc Floral. © Broaden Horizons 

    Visit Orléans: the Museums

    The FRAC, a museum can visit in Orléans, Loire Valley, France.
    Visit Orléans the FRAC Museum © Broaden Horizons 

    The CERCIL (Part of Paris Shoah Memorial)

    The CERCIL is a Memorial Museum to 4400 Jewish Children detained in the Loiret internment camps of Beaune-la-Rolande and Pitiviers and eventually deported to the Auschwitz and Sobibor extermination camps.

    The Charles Péguy Center

    Housed in a Renaissance building the center is dedicated to famous the French writer Charles Péguy who was born in Orléans

    The FRAC (Regional Contemporary Art Collection)

    The FRAC in its impressive new building presents recent artistic expressions.

    Orléans Historical Museum

    Hôtel Cabu Historical Museum exhibits an exceptional Gaul and Gallo-Roman bronze treasure showing a unique expression of Celtic art.

    The Museum of Fine Arts: Must See in Orléans

    With no doubt the best art gallery of the Loire Valley

    Study for the Massacre of the Innocents by Léon Cogniet a painting of the Orléans Museum of Fine Arts. credit François Lauginie
    Visit Orléans. Study for the Massacre of the Innocents, Léon Cogniet © Orléans Museum of Fine Arts, credit François Lauginie.

    This museum with five levels dedicated to its permanent collection is definitely something you should not miss when visiting Orléans.  The Orléans fine arts museum is showing a huge collection going from the end of the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

    If this museum is famous for its pastel gallery (known to be the second one in France after Le Louvre), it also shows an impressive number of works by foreign old masters as Correggio, Annibale Carraci, Guido Reni, Velázquez, Van Dick, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Batoni... and also French ones as de La Hyre, Le Nain brothers,  Rigaud, Fragonard, Boucher, Quentin de La Tour, Chardin,  Delacroix,  Boudin, Courbet, Gaugin… or sculptors as Rodin, Maillol, Bourdelle, etc.

    Don’t miss this rich museum if you visit Orléans Loire Valley. We  will be happy to guide you in this exceptional place, so do not hesitate to follow one of our Orléans Museum of Fine Arts tours.

    This museum with five levels dedicated to its permanent collection is definitely something you should not miss when visiting Orléans.  The Orléans fine arts museum is showing a huge collection going from the end of the Middle Ages to the 20st century.

    Visit Orléans: Ariadne in Naxos, Le Nain brothers in the Orléans Museum of Fine Arts. Don't miss it if you visit Orléans. Credit photo François Lauginie.
    Visit Orléans: Ariadne in Naxos, Le Nain brothers © Orléans Museum of Fine Arts, credit François Lauginie.

    If this museum is famous for its pastel gallery (known to be the second one in France after Le Louvre), it also shows an impressive number of works by foreign old masters as Correggio, Annibale Carraci, Guido Reni, Velázquez, Van Dick, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Batoni... and also French ones as de La Hyre, Le Nain brothers,  Rigaud, Fragonard, Boucher, Quentin de La Tour, Chardin,  Delacroix,  Boudin, Courbet, Gaugin… or sculptors as Rodin, Maillol, Bourdelle, etc.

    Allegory of Astronomy by Laurent de la Hyre - Orléans Museum of Fine Arts. Orléans, Loire Valley, France. credit François Lauginie.
    Visit Orléans. Allegory of Astronomy by Laurent de la Hyre © Orléans Museum of Fine Arts, credit François Lauginie.

    Don’t miss this rich museum if you visit Orléans Loire Valley. We  will be happy to guide you in this exceptional place, so do not hesitate to follow one of our Orléans Museum of Fine Arts tours.

    Visit Orléans: Food, Wine and Traditions

    Visit Orléans to discovert a Gothic and Renaissance house in place du Châtelet.

    Two historical (one Gothic & one Renaissance) housing traditional french boutiques in place du Châtelet where is the cover market. Rose and Leon delicatessen shop is only few meters away.© Broaden Horizons.

    Orléans Markets

    • Saturday morning (from 6h30 AM) “brocante” (flea market) on Alexandre-Martin Boulevard
    • Orléans food market each Saturday morning from 7h30 AM at Quai du Roi.
    • Typical Fridays night market in place du Martroi. Normally organized from 5PM to 22PM : a place to find everything from local food and drink to secondhand books and local crafts

    Care than market’s schedules are never warranty and can always been canceled or modified.

    Orléans Gastronomic Tradition

    Gastronomic shopping in Orléans

    • Covered market halls on place du Chatelet : with some cheese dedicated stalls
    • Rose et Léon épicerie fine (delicatessen), 5 rue du petit puits Orléans
    • Cafés Jeanne d’Arc : delicatessen, tea, coffee since 1899, 7 rue de la république Orléans  

    Where to Eat Where to Drink When Visiting Orléans

     

    The rue de Bourgogne the street where are concentrate a lot of bars of Orléans is also the street of the protestant temple.
    Visit Orléans: rue de Bourgogne is not only a strategic street for its bars and restaurants but also for its historical buildings like the 19th-century neoclassical Orléans Protestant Temple © Broaden Horizons

    Where to Go Out in Orléans

    The rue de Bourgogne concentrate most of the bars and has a large restaurant offer. Beside main square Place du Martroi rue Saint-Catherine is also a strategic place for Restaurants.

    Bar à Vins 

    • Ver di vin (2, rue des Trois Maries) to have a drink in a 13th C basement  
    • An other choice is Les becs à vins 8, place du châtelet (also a restaurant)

    Bars

    Make your choice in the vaste offer in rue de Bourgogne and arround.

    Restaurant

    If you look for gastronomy don’t miss le Lièvre Gourmand (28 Quai du Châtelet) which is a Michelin-starred restaurant

    What to Do When You Visit Orléans: the Festivals

    The Orléans Joan of Arc Festival

    The 8 of may of 1429 after having besieged Orléans during months the English army finally gave up the place.
    This event is the watershed of the Hundred Years between France and England and Joan of Arc is considered as the main actor of this French Army success.
    Since then, each year, Orléans eternally grateful is celebrating Joan of Arc from April 29 to May 8th, a time of fireworks, parades and medieval fair. The Orléans Joan of Arc Festival in French Les Fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc is one of the oldest one in Europe.

    Night photo of the Loire Festival each two year in september
    Visit Orléans the Loire Festival summer 2017 © Broaden Horizons 
    The best moment to visit Oréans is during the Joan of Arc festival from 29th of april to 8th of may
    Visit Orléans: Orléans Joan of Arc Festival in spring 2018 © Broaden Horizons

    The Loire Festival

    Orléans stands at the northernmost point of the Loire River, therefore, the closest to Paris This strategical position is one of the explanations of the weight of the city in French history. Orléans economic prosperity was also directly due to this position.The Port of Orleans was also the port of Paris. Orléans was then one of France more considerable economic center until the arrival of the railway which rapidly ended with the activity of the Port of Orléans.
    Each two years, in September, Orléans is celebrating is Former Port. The Loire Festival in french “Le Festival de Loire” is the most important gathering of river-going vessels in Europe.

    The Jazz in Orléans

    Since January 2018 Orléans and New Orleans, USA are twinned towns. But the link between Orléans and Louisiana is also reinforced by the Orléans Jazz festivals each spring : the “Jazz or Jazz” and the “Jazz à l’évêché” this last one being organized in the garden of the former palace of the bishop of Orléans.

    The Flowers in Orléans

    Orléans has a very old tradition of growing roses. The Orléans international Roses contest organized each September in the botanic garden witnesses this tradition.
    The Saint-fiacre feasts are a flower festival organized each year during the last weekend of August. 2020 will be it 212th occasion.

    People playing jazz to illustrate a visit of Orléans, Loire Valley, France.
    Visit Orléans: Orléans Jazz Festivals each spring © Broaden Horizons

    What to Do When you Visit Orléans : the Festivals

    The best moment to visit Oréans is during the Joan of Arc festival from 29th of april to 8th of may.

    Visit Orléans : Orléans Joan of Arc Festival in spring 2018 © Broaden Horizons

    The Orléans Joan of Arc Festival

    The 8 of may of 1429 after having besieged Orléans during months the English army finally gave up the place.
    This event is the watershed of the Hundred Years between France and England and Joan of Arc is considered as the main actor of this French Army success.
    Since then, each year, Orléans eternally grateful is celebrating Joan of Arc from April 29 to May 8th, a time of fireworks, parades and medieval fair. The Orléans Joan of Arc Festival in French Les Fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc is one of the oldest one in Europe.

    Night photo of the Loire Festival each two year in september

    Visit Orléans the Loire Festival summer 2017 © Broaden Horizons 

    The Loire Festival

    Orléans stands at the northernmost point of the Loire River, therefore, the closest to Paris This strategical position is one of the explanations of the weight of the city in French history. Orléans economic prosperity was also directly due to this position.The Port of Orleans was also the port of Paris. Orléans was then one of France more considerable economic center until the arrival of the railway which rapidly ended with the activity of the Port of Orléans.
    Each two years, in September, Orléans is celebrating is Former Port. The Loire Festival in French “Le Festival de Loire” is the most important gathering of river-going vessels in Europe.

    Visit Orléans: What to See in the Urban Area

    Once you will have visited Orléans you will see that there is a lot to discover in the urban area.

    Loire, Nature and Forest

    Visit Orléans: Clery Saint André Church – Credit Manfred Heyde [CC BY-SA 3.0]

    Orléans Loire Valley Châteaux

    Orléans Cléry AOC vineyards somthing to see during of visite of Orléans
    Visit Orléans: Orléans & Orléans-Cléry AOC Vineyards – Credit S. zeller – Unsplash

    Our Lady of Cléry-Saint-André Basilica

    Cléry-Saint-André at around 16 km of Orléans is a very famous Gothic basilica where is the tomb of King Louis XI of France. It is also an import stop on the Saint James Way.

    More Sacred Architecture

    Visit Orléans: The Loire Valley Surrounding Between Castles and Forests 

    Once you will have visited Orléans and its urban area you will see that there is a lot to discover in the surrounding 50 km (Mappy references).

    Between Loire and Forest treasures

    Plenty more Loire Valley Châteaux

    The Château de Chambord, the most famous of the Loire Valley is easy to visit from Orléans
    Visit Orléans: Châteaux de Chambord – Credit Borian Mongel Unplash
    Châteaudun castle at +/- 50km from Orléans

    Visit Orléans:Châteaudun castle – Credit Daniel Jolivet castle [cc-by-2.0]

    Chateau de Chambord Loire Valley Most Famous Castle

    World famous Château de Chambord, the Loire Valley most famous one is at only around 46 km from Orléans. Once you will be there you will be at not far away from other Loire Valley famous landmarks as :

    Visit Orléans : Discover Off the Beaten Tracks Orléans Eastern Loire Valley

    Last but not least, in the surrounding 50 km around Orléans Loire Valley. Don’t miss it!

    If you visit Orléans you will close to the Sully-sur-Loire Castle one of the most interesting of the Val de Loire
    Visit Orléans: Château de Sully-sur-Loire. © Broaden Horizons.

    Eastern Loire Valley Exceptional Sacred Architecture

    Carolingian oratory of Germigny-des-Près (+/- 30 km)
    Germigny-des-Près has been constructed by Théodulf Bishop of Orléans and abbot of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire between approximately 803 and 806. This is the only church in France with a Carolingian mosaic.

    Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire Abbey Church (+/- 35 km)
    Only few kilometers away from Germigny-des-Près stands Saint-Benoit one of the Christianity most famous abbey, founded in 640, it is also called Fleury Abbey. The present edifice built from the 11th century is famous for its Romanesque Figurative carved capitals, king Philip I rests there.

     

    Sully-sur-Loire Must-See Loire Valley Castle

    The castle of Sully-sur Loire, one of the most spectacular of the Loire Valley is only at around 42 km from Orléans. It is a must you should miss. You will also discover In Sully-sur-Loire the Saint-Ythier church which was initially part of the castle. Following the Loire River to the east, you will find other interesting landmarks:

    • Château de Gien (+/- 25 km from Sully-sur-Loire)
    • Briare Canal bridge (+/34 km from Sully-sur-Loire)
    Carolingian oratory of Germigny-des-Près. The only church in France with a Carolingian mosaic

    Visit Orléans: Carolingian oratory of Germigny-des-Près. The  only church in France with a Carolingian mosaic.  © Broaden Horizons.

    Practical information & Tools to Visit Orléans

    Orléans interactive MAP : a generic tool to easily find where are museums gardens, parking buses and Tram.

    Travel by Train to Orléans

    There are two trains stations in Orléans :  “Orléans” the city center station and “Orléans les Aubrais“. Take care that a lot of trains stop only at “Orléans Les Aubrais”, and that if you go for this option you will have to take the tram to reach Orléans city center.

    Orléans City Center Train Station is conveniently situated beside the Place d’Arc mall and square. The mall includes a big supermarket and few options to take sandwiches there are tree fast foods around the square and the station : Quick, Subway, McDonald.

    Train tickets are sold on:

    Transports in Orléans

    Parkings

    Orléans Central Post Office

    •  Place de Gaule, beside place du Martroi (main city square)  
    Joan of Arc statue place du Martroi, one of the world most famous representation of Joan of Arc don't miss it if you visit Orléans
    Don't miss the street art during your visit of Orléans. At the background of the photo the only remaining tower of the ancien city wall is remaining
    Oldest timbered house of Orléans, end of forteen century, visible close to jardin de la charpenterie.
    view of the Veille Intendance Renaissance Mansion from its garden, in ORléans, Loire Valley, France.
    Hôtel Dupanloup former bishop palace
    Lebanon cedars in the Parc Floral de la Source, Orléans, Val de Loire France
    Rue de la poterne if you visit Orléans you won't be the first one to walk there at it is the former Gallo-Roman cardo
    Boats on the Loire River in Orléans, Loire Valley, France.

    Clockwise from top to left: 1 – Joan of Arc statue, place  du Martroi  2 – Orléans oldest half-timber house. 3 – Hôtel Dupanloup, former palace of the bishops of Orléans 4 – Rue de la Poterne, the ancien Gallo-Roman Cardo. 5 – Street-Art in Orléans. 6 – Veille Intendance Renaissance Mansion 7 – Lebanese Cedars in Parc Floral . 8 – Boats on the Loire River. ©broaden-horizons for all images.

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