Orléans, France: the city where Joan of Arc liberated from the English.
Possessing a rich civil heritage, the city of Orléans is largely defined by its significant influence in French history. It is important to note that the city greatly suffered during World War II as a large part of it was destroyed by bombs. Today, the city has been restored to its former glory and attracts numerous visitors due to its powerful political and religious background, but also for its strategic location in the Loire Valley, close to the châteaux and the vineyards. Orléans is not a big town and therefore can be done in a weekend! Here are my top recommendations!
HOW TO GET THERE
Prefecture of the Centre-Val de Loire, Orléans is an important administrative center which explains its proximity to Paris. By train, it is a direct 1-hour voyage and costs around 70 euros. Taking the bus lasts a little bit less than 2 hours but costs no more than 15 euros. Finally, by car it is approximately a 1-hour and 30-minute ride, depending on traffic. If you are coming from Paris and planning a day trip to Orléans, we suggest taking the train as it is the easiest way. The city center is quite compact and everything is within walking distance, so you will not need a car to get around.
La Maison de Jeanne d’Arc
3 Pl. du Général de Gaulle, 45000 Orléans, France
In addition to its historic center and numerous attractions, Orléans is best known for being liberated from the English by Joan of Arc in 1429. On La Place Charles de Gaulle, you can visit her house where she stayed during the siege of Orléans. The half-timbered house is traditional with medieval characteristics adorning the façade. As tribute to her bravery, the city inaugurated a museum in 1974 where you can discover Joan of Arc’s life throughout the years, thanks to different multimedia resources. You cannot miss her statue standing proudly on the main square, Place du Martroi. It is safe to say that you will see Joan of Arc everywhere in the city.
La Cathédrale Sainte-Croix
Pl. Sainte-Croix, 45000 Orléans, France
Much like its civil heritage, Orléans’ religious background is immensely strong and plays a huge part in France’s history. Cathedral enthusiasts will be ecstatic in Orléans, with La Cathédrale Sainte-Croix, Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance…etc. The Saint-Croix Cathedral is a national treasure you must visit on your trip. It was first built during the 13th century, however, after its partial destruction during the religious wars it was rebuilt during the 1800s. Pay attention to the details, especially the period rosettes commissioned by Louis the 14th. You can spend hours discovering the exquisite details on the façades, uncovering the meaning behind the Latin inscriptions, and admiring the beautiful stained-glass windows.
7 Rue Jeanne d'Arc, 45000 Orléans, France
Set on the busiest street of Orléans overlooking the cathedral, L’Orangerie is a charming and small Italian restaurant. Simple, warm and cozy decor welcomes you in an intimate atmosphere. A bar is at the entrance of the bistro and you must cross a small bridge to reach the restaurant area. The menu is brimming with effortless yet tasty dishes at a very reasonable price, including a variety of homemade pizzas. L’Orangerie is the perfect lunch spot for a casual gathering between colleagues, friends, or family.
Ver Di Vin
2 Rue des 3 Maries, 45000 Orléans, France
Aptly named, Ver di Vin mixes the owner’s two passions: traditional French cuisine and wine. The dishes are meticulously prepared with organic products and superbly displayed, including: half-cooked duck foie gras au naturel, French black truffle and pasta with poultry soup with mushrooms…etc. The best part of this underground restaurant? Their prize-winning wine list. Pair your dish with one of the 24 wines offered. Located in the historical town center in a 15th century vaulted cellar, the restaurant is defined as atypical. Ver di Vin is a great address placed in a magical setting!
Since Orléans is approximately an hour from Loire Valley by car, staying at a chateau or a relais (mansions) in the Loire Valley might better fit your style. If not, below are two recommendations in Orléans’ city center.
Hôtel de l’Abeille
64 Rue d'Alsace Lorraine, 45000 Orléans, France
Situated in the busy heart of Orléans, within walking distance of the main square and the mall, Hôtel de l’Abeille is ideally located to visit the city and its surroundings. Since its construction in 1903, the hotel has been managed by generations of the same family which adds to its classic French charm. Decorated with vintage trinkets and mural prints, time seems to have stopped in the 20th century. As you explore the common areas of this establishment, be sure to spot the symbolic decorations of Napoleon and Joan of Arc. Spacious, comfortable, and offering many useful amenities; the hotel may be simple but it is truly a charming gem worthy of a few peaceful nights of sleep. Enjoy the complimentary breakfast on its rooftop terrace for a breathtaking morning view of Orléans!
Empreinte Hotel & Spa
80 Quai du Châtelet, 45000 Orléans, France
This charming four-star hotel is royally located in front of the chateau. The two main neighborhoods of Versailles encircle this hotel: Notre-Dame, where you can discover the local market, its cathedral, shops, and the more historical district of Saint-Louis. In this area, explore the antique shops, and historical monuments. The great thing is that you won’t even need a car, as everything can be done by foot or bicycle. The interior and exterior architecture of the hotel will blow you away. It is the ideal place to come and unwind! Relax at the sauna, work out in the fitness room, eat with a view in the Alcôve restaurant, decompress at the lounge bar, and rest in one of 152 rooms!
Eve’s grandparents live in Orléans and visits them annually.