14 sites worth visiting in Orleans in the Loire Valley

Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in Martroi Square in Orleans

A trip to the Loire Valley, in the center of France, has a visit to the city of Orleans.

This is what was the capital of France in the 10th century and today is the capital of the Central Loire Valley Region.

Now Orleans It is a reference for those who travel in route from Spain to Paris, but especially for the more and more tourists that travel the Loire Valley Well by car or bicycle visiting its famous castles.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Orleans in the Loire Valley

Curiosities history of Orleans

With 120,000 inhabitants today, the Orleans history It has a long tradition linked to the activity of transporting goods by boat through the Loire river.

It is now known as the cosmetics citywell in Orleans The most important companies in this sector are concentrated in France.

But as a curiosity I will tell you that in the past it has been known as the vinegar city because in the 16th and 17th centuries it had up to 300 companies that produced it.

Precisely this activity arose at a time when wine was transported by the river and a lot of vinegar arrived, but at present in the city there is only one company that produces and markets vinegar.

Looking forward to your visit, I anticipate that Orleans It is one of those French cities where tranquility reigns, as, for example, Poitiers.

Hotel Groslot, former city hall of Orleans in the Loire Valley

This is largely due to the fact that the university is established on the outskirts of the city, about 10 kilometers, so Orleans It is not characterized by a great university environment, as it is Rennes.

From the tourist point of view, the year 2000 was a before and after in the most recent history of the Orleans cityWell, it was when he Loire Valley he declared World Heritage by Unesco.

In addition, the arrival of a new mayor who decided to recover the historical Center, which by then was very degraded and was even an unsafe area.

The result is that now Orleans be one of the most visited cities by those who, for example, do the Loire Valley Cycle Touring Route, the longest and busiest in France.

Sample of this great boom of tourists traveling by bicycle in this area is that the trains that link the cities of the Loire, since Orleans to Tours, they carry special wagons with large reserved space on their lower platform to transport bicycles.

Avenue of Joan of Arc in Orleans in the Loire Valley

What to see and do in Orleans

Already when you start the visit of the city, the first thing you will observe is the great importance that the figure ofJoan of Arc, character of the history of France which today in certain areas represents the feeling of being French.

Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc

The best exponent of this importance is the presence of a equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in the center of the current heart of Orleans, the Martroi Square.

And its good there are many people who think that Joan of Arc, known as the Maid of Orleans, was born or lived all his life in this city, in fact he was only in the same 10 days.

It was on the occasion of the famous battle in 1429 that he freed the city from the siege of the English during the Hundred Years War.

Jaques Boucher Garden in Orleans in the Loire Valley

Joan of Arc House

Linked to this figure, in Orleans you can visit what is known as Joan of Arc House, which is actually an emulation of the original house where Joan of Arc He was during that battle.

The original house was destroyed during the shelling of the WWII that destroyed the historical center of the city and was rebuilt in another place with the initiative of the own president of Gaullespecifically in the current Charles De Gaulle square.

On the back of the house is the smallJaques Boucher Garden where part of the tower and the remains of the st paul's church, 17th century.

Joan of Arc Avenue

In addition, the great avenue that joins the central Martroi Square with the Orleans Cathedral now it has the name of Joan of Arc.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Orleans in the Loire Valley

This avenue was created by the Bourbons precisely to have a front view of the cathedral of the saint cross, and initially acquired the name of Bourbon Street.

If you visit the city from May 8, the day the Joan of Arc Party, and until the entrance of autumn, you will see this avenue decorated with spectacular and colorful flags, among which you will identify the city, yellow and red.

That day you have military parades under the flags that decorate the streets of downtown, and you choose a young woman who did Joan of Arc, travel the city on horseback.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Orleans

For its part, the Orleans Cathedral, in the Gothic style, it has had a long construction process, because at the present time you can see from 13th century chapels to 17th century chapels in its central neoclassical style area.

In this area stands out the large rosette that represents the Sun King.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Orleans in the Loire Valley

But in addition the front towers are from the 19th century, as well as the stained glass windows that show the history of Joan of Arc, made just at the time when the Vatican will declare it santa.

To highlight also the wooden stalls of the choir, from the 17th century, because it was protected during the French Revolution.

Hotel Groslot, former city hall of Orleans

Almost in front of the cathedral you have the building of the old town hall known as Groslot Hotel.

It's about a renaissance mansion from the 16th century, when it was like a small castle of Loire at the time, which has hosted the Orleans City Hall from the 19th century to the 80s.

This building that you can visit for free, which had an extension in the 19th century while maintaining its brick construction, is now used for event and wedding celebrations.

Hotel Groslot, former city hall of Orleans in the Loire Valley

In the entrance courtyard you can see a bronze statue of Joan of Arc, in which you can see that, as a reflection of the resistance of the santa, the shots he received during the WWII.

Inside there is a copy of a famous painting ofIngres also dedicated to Joan of Arc, whose original is preserved in the Paris Louvre Museum.

Orleans Historic Center

From the cathedral, heading towards the Loire river, you arrive directly at historical Center from the city.

On your walk you will see corners with half-timbered houses of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which were brought to light from urban rehabilitation of the year 2000, and of which about 300 are listed.

Half-timbered houses in the historic center of Orleans in the Loire Valley

In this historic center there is no uniform architecture, but buildings from different eras and characteristics, as you will also see 17th-century houses built with bricks and white stone, with an aesthetic similar to that of the former building of the old town hall.

A highlight is the Belfroi Tower of the fifteenth century, whose bell was used to warn of the attack of the enemies and which was a symbol of the power of the city.

Burgundy Street

The Burgundy street It is the main axis of the historic district and is also known as the restaurant street , which extend for its two kilometers in length, and among which the oriental abound.

That is the place where you will find more atmosphere of leisure in Orleans, although I also show you the initial section of the Santa Catherine street what part of the Martroi Square, where there are restaurants and bars open until 11 at night.

Belfroi Tower in the historic center of Orleans in the Loire Valley

Chatelet Pier on the Loire River

Before he Loire Valley was declared World Heritage, the river area was a large car park in the river area was car parking.

Thereafter this area was rehabilitated so that the current Chatelet Pier and the riverbank were recovered for the use of the inhabitants and visitors of Orleans,

Then the so-called openedChatelet Square with the aim of enabling a place with restaurants and leisure establishments, where there is now a leisure center with cinemas and an underground car park, as well as a garden with terraces on top of the buildings.

On the river bank there are several ganguettes, typical leisure places of Loire Valley where you can drink, eat and listen to music, and where university students meet.

Chatelet Pier in Orleans in Loire Valley

You can also eat in a boat-restaurant, or have a drink in another traditional boat.

Orleans It currently has three kilometers of piers on the stretch where the city is crossed by the Loire river.

The first antecedent of Chatelet Pier It is the first one that was made in the Roman-Gala city, and then in the Middle Ages have a great boom with thousands of ships that were dedicated to the transport of goods by the river.

The goods arrived from Mediterranean through the rhone river, and a route through the area of Massif Central allowed to take them to the Loire.

On the other hand, of Atlantic Ocean the goods arriving from America, like cocoa.

Traditional boat trip on the Loire River in Orleans

But when he arrived railway, whose first line in France was the one that united Paris with Orleans, the train transport began to replace the one that until then had been done by boat by Loire.

Traditional boat trip on the Loire River

In you Orleans visit you can make a Traditional boat trip on the Loire River.

Starting from the aforementioned Chatelet Pier, in summer you can sign up for one-hour excursions by sailing in a traditional boat through the Loire river, during which you will know all the history and vicissitudes of this famous river.

During this excursion that is also done in Spanish you will climb the river course and you will also see the remains of the 21-arch bridge that was built in the 12th century, and that was the famous bridge now disappeared that crossed Joan of Arc in his victory against the English.

Traditional boat trip on the Loire River in Orleans

If you prefer, you can use the same boat in the shuttle service to the nearby Charlemagne Island, an appropriate place for hiking.

It should be noted that every two years, in September the Loire Festival, an event that brings together more than 200 river boats and in which every year they invite to a different country.

In the last edition of 2017 came a representation of the Ebro Delta and in 2019 the guest country is England.

Crypt of Saint Aignan

On your visit to Orleans you can see two crypts that are a sign of the religious tradition in the city.

Romanesque column in Crypt of Saint Aignan in Orleans

Saint aignanwho was he Bishop of Orleans, at the time of the expulsion of Attila and the Huns, in the year 451, tradition says that it performed a miracle with some wasps.

In his honor in the fifth century a church was built outside the walled city of the second century, and since then it became the Orleans pattern.

In the eleventh century the crypt to keep its relics, and two centuries later, the old building was replaced by a Gothic church.

Finally in the nineteenth century it ceased to be the saint patron saint of orleans to be named Joan of Arc.

In fact, today its history is not well known in the city of Orleans, although you can enter your crypt during the guided tours organized by the tourist office.

Crypt of Saint Avit in Orleans in Loire Valley

Crypt of St. Avit in Orleans

For its part, San Avit he was a monk and hermit who lived in the eleventh century in Orleans, and from which tradition says he could heal by touching the sick, especially the blind.

To preserve its remains, a crypt was also built under a church, but it was demolished in the seventeenth century, although it was discovered during works carried out in the nineteenth century in a school, and now it is also visited.

Night walk La Balade Magique

A form of visit the historic center of Orleans it is during night walk the Balade Magique, a cultural offer of the tourist office from the city.

Night illumination of the statue of Joan of Arc in Orleans

During this walk of more than two hours you will travel the Joan of Arc Street to go to the area of ​​the Cathedral and the old town hall, the Groslot Hotel, then go to the historic center and complete the visit in the area of Loire river.

Through the night lighting that in recent years has been installed in the main monuments and streets of the city you can see the most prominent corners and understand the long Orleans history.

La Source Floral Park

your visit of the city of Orleans you can complete it knowing the La Source Floral Park, the most visited attraction of the department of Loiret, and the place where the spring is located where this other river whose name means the little loire.

This great Botanic Park which occupies 35 hectares and is a haven of peace to walk, is located in front of the facilities of the University of Orleans, about 10 kilometers south of the historic center.

La Source Floral Park in Orleans in the Loire Valley

It is an area of ​​great tradition of flowers because the historical floods of Loire by the same they facilitated their plantation.

From a lake located in the park you can see the building of a chateau, and on your visit you will walk through different gardens where there is a great diversity of flowering plants.

A corner that you should not miss is the enclosure of tropical garden where you can see numerous tropical butterflies fluttering around you, some of them of enormous size.

How to get to Orleans

For your visit, it is very common that Orleans It is a stop on the route by car for those who travel to Paris from the south of France, or among those who make the route through the Loire Valley either by car or by bicycle.

But I will tell you that a very good way to go to Orleans is to go in TGV high speed train from the south station of Paris Austerlitz, from where it is only an hour.

Video: Centre-Val de Loire Tourist Attractions: 14 Top Places to Visit (November 2019).