Grand European Tour Orleans France

On the move again and heading along the Loire, passing the castles of Amboise and Chaumont. We then stopped into Orleans before reaching Paris.

Orleans is an interesting and important town on the Loire River, and the main city in both the Loiret department and also the Centre (Loire valley) region. Situated south of Paris and east of Le Mans, it is a large town with more than 300 000 inhabitants.

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 buildings to admire.

Because Orléans does not form part of the 'major sights' of the Loire Valley to the west or of Burgundy to the east it is perhaps less visited than it would otherwise be: that is unfortunate because it is a very attractive city with lots to see and so
including an extensive historic centre and many buildings of interest and several important musesums and garden.

The city is stunning, and has a historical background to match up to its amount of awesome. Known for a famous battle, won by hero Joan of Arc, We loved being able to walk the streets and just simply marinate in the culture and beauty.

It is quite easy to get your bearings in the centre of Orleans. The principal region of interest to visitors is around the cathedral and along Rue Jeanne d'Arc, the region of the town between here and the Loire river and the Pont Georges V bridge about 500 metres to the south, and also north of Rue Jeanne d'Arc to the Place du Martroi, Rue d'Escures and the Hotel Groslot.

We started exploring in Place du Martroi, which is a large open square surrounded by numerous imposing buildings and a very pleasant introduction to the city. In the centre of the square there is a large 19th century statue of Joan of Arc. The streets near here contain many of the larger shops such as FNAC which are found in most important French cities.

From here we followed Rue d' Escures towards the east. One of the most splendid houses in Orleans, 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.

We turned south towards the cathedral along the Place de l'Etape where we reached the Orléans Tourist Office and the open area in front of the cathedral. Be sure to visit the tourist office because there are many other interesting sites of note including several churches and other historically important buildings that you are lilely to overlook without a guide map. We didn’t have that much time to really explore.

The Cathedral Sainte-Croix is the most important historic monument in the city, a 17th centre gothic style cathedral with very old origins that has a great deal of impressive stonework ornamentation, in particular the façade 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.

After exploring the cathedral, we walked straight along the Rue Jeanne d'Arc, the broad avenue to the front of the cathedral created at the beginning of the 19th century, at least as far as Place Charles de Gaulle. This is not the most beautiful square in the town but it is here that you can see the historic 'house of Joan of Arc'. 

The Place de la Republique is another pleasant square along this road.
We kept turning to look behind us as we walked west along Rue Jeanne d'Arc because the view of the cathedral from here is very beautiful.

Orléans, of course, is most associated with Joan d'Arc who led the Charles VII in his battle against the English and ultimately helped defeat the English in the siege of Orléans. She was eventually captured by the English, put on trial, and burned at the stake when she was just 19. The story is very important to France and French history, and in Orléans you will see various tributes such as the statue of Joan of Arc astride a horse in the Place du Martroi, a museum in her honor, and a chance to see the house where she lived in the Place du General de Gaulle. She is remembered each year in the spring with a festival in her honor. Check what we loved.

Les Halles-Chatelet

Les Halls-Chatelet is located in the Place du Chatelet and was developed in the late 19th-century. Old houses and streets were demolished and a large square space was created. In 1882, food halls were added. A covered mall was built in 1977 to replace the old halls and expand the product offerings. The modern shopping arcade has men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as gourmet food products and wines. You can also find fresh fish and meats. Today, Les Halles-Chatelet forms the central shopping district of Orléans.

Place du Martroi

Place Martroi is one of the main squares in Orléans, but more than geographically, it is the center of Orléans public and political life. The Maison de Ville and Chancellery are located here. Three big avenues converge in this square: Rue Bannier, Rue de la Republique and Rue Royale. In the center stands a bronze equestrian statue of Joan d'Arc atop a prancing horse. The statue was commissioned in 1803 to replace a monument to her. The statue was put in place in 1855. In a strange twist of fate, the statue was made from melted down old English cannons recovered from the Ministry of Defense. There is also a food market in the square on Friday evenings from 5 pm-9:30 pm.
Musee des Beaux-Arts

The Musee des Beaux-Arts has one of the most beautiful collections of European art from the 18th-century to the present. There are many thousands of works, but only 700 are permanently exhibited including paintings, sculptures, and object d'art. It also houses the second largest collection of pastels behind the Louvre.

Cathedral of Sainte Croix

he Gothic style Cathedral of Sainte Croix casts a long shadow over the Rue Joan d'Arc where it stands majestically at one end in the Place de Sainte Croix. It is the most photographed scene in the city. Building started in the early 17th-century and took almost until the end of the century to complete. The western facade has ornate stonework, towers and three rose windows. The bell tower is the highest point of the cathedral.

Fetes de Joan d'Arc

For ten days, from April 29 to May 8, Orléans celebrates the Fetes de Joan d'Arc. The celebrations are in commemoration of her arrival in Orléans in spring 1429 and the eventual defeat of the English who had threatened to take the city for more than six months. The event begins with a re-enactment of Joan’s arrival in the city. “Joan” is chosen from one of the high school aged girls in Orléans. She arrives in full Medieval pageantry, parading through the streets which is something she actually did to boost morale in the last days of the siege.

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”

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