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A bit of History, and suggestions about what to do and see in Orléans and vicinity…

Orléans and the Loiret

Credit : http://www.orleans-metropole.fr

REGIONAL CAPITAL of the region Centre Val de Loire, Orléans and its conurbation counts up to 275 000 inhabitants at just 120 kilometres (74.5 miles) from Paris. Faithful to its past, the city works on developing economy, culture and education, while preserving the quality of life that characterises it. The Val de Loire registration on the World Heritage List in 2000 is an additional recognition of this quality. At the economic level, Orléans is part of the prestigious “Cosmetic Valley”. The city asserts its role of regional capital and places itself as one of Paris Basin’s main balancing metropoles.


A bit of History…

Saying that Orléans has a great place in the History of France is a pleonasm. The History of France has been linked to the one of Orléans since Antiquity.

Cenabum is naturally built on the North of the Loire loop, which is a strategic place. Romans develop the port on the river for the transport of cereals.
Aware of its strategic importance, the invaders rebuild rampart, driven by the Emperor Aurelian during the 2nd century, and the city is renamed Aurelianum.

As the Roman Empire falls, the city endures barbarian invasions: in 463, the Visigoths fight against the King of the Franks Childeric’s troops during the Battle of Orléans. The Franks only complete their conquest of the region in 486 under Clovis’ reign. When he dies, the Kingdom of Orléans is constituted.

In 732, the Carolingian Charles Martel includes Orléans in his own Kingdom, and later, Charles the Bald gives the city the title of Capital of the Kingdom and is enthroned there in 842. Orléans’ royal fate begins. That way, the Capetian period opens with Hugh Capet’s coronation in Orléans on December 25th, 987.

But the turning point of Orléans’ history is also one of the turning points of France’s History. In the middle of the Hundred Years’ War, Joan of Arc achieves to beat the British and frees the city on May 8th, 1429. Following the war, the city rediscovers quickly enough its prosperity, particularly thanks to Louis XI who develops the agriculture in the region of Orléans. During the Renaissance, Orléans is still part of France’s History with the passing by of John Calvin and of the King himself. Moreover, it is in one of the Hotel Groslot’s room located in Orléans that Francis II of France dies in 1560.

After having accumulated wealth, the city has to wait for the arrival of the railway company Paris-Orléans in 1852 to get back its former lustre, abruptly stopped by the Revolution and the Napoleonic period. Its growth goes on until World War II, and despite numerous bombings by Germany and by the Allies during the Liberation, Orléans is one of the first big cities of France to be rebuilt. Today, Orléans is the Capital of the ‘Region Centre’, and it received in 2009 the prestigious certification label “City and Country of Art and History” to highlight this rich historical past, but also to reward the policy of promotion of its heritage undertaken for more than ten years.

What is to be seen in Orléans?


Credit : http://www.orleans-metropole.fr

It is characterised by its gothic style, its remarkable homogeneity, its length of 140 metres (460 feet) and its five naves. Its colourful stained-glass windows depicting Joan of Arc are also something to be seen. Moreover, some splendid stalls and panelling from the beginning of the 18th century decorate the edifice’s choir. During summer, it is possible to undertake the ascent of the towers for a stroke that leads to the angels’ feet (the eight angels that ornament the two towers summits). The wall walk offers a wonderful view on the entire city and its streets, its monuments and its gardens. This ascent also allows to realise the impressive work made by the builders who created the gargoyles, the flying buttress but also the characters that contribute to give magnificence to this cathedral.


Credit : Croquant

Implanted on the antic city wall, the Bishop’s Palace was subject to successive constructions from the 17th century to the Revolution. The edifice’s symmetric body, its frontage punctuated with high windows and its main stairway give the monument a great majesty. Its garden offers a stunning view on the Cathedral.
In 1905, when the Church and State separate, a new layout of the garden takes shape. The flowerbed we know today is situated in front of the library building. In harmony with the architecture, the garden is only made of straight lines and rigour and is composed in classic style. According to the seasons, large potteries planted of daturas, cannas or banana trees, decorate the aisles.
In the North-East corner, there are remnants of the ancient Gallo-Roman wall; in that place the garden offers a remarkable view on the chevet of the Cathedral. (2002 sources: Municipal Archives and departmental Archives. ‘Men and plants’ review n ° 26).


Credit : http://www.orleans-metropole.fr

Jacques Groslot, bailiff of Orléans, had his private mansion built between 1549 and 1553 by the architect Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau. Its frontage made of stone and of brick shows three gables, one of which is withdrawn in the centre. The noble floor, raised by a ground level, is open on the honour courtyard through big bay windows. In 170, the mansion’s functions changed to become Orléans’ City Hall. In the 19th century, the “Place de l’Etape” is flattened. The honour courtyard, lowered of about one metre, is closed by a monumental portal. Between 1850 and 1854, the architect Albert Delton modified the original plan and adds two pavilions on the courtyard, and one on the garden. He decorated the new rooms with pomp (painted chimneys, ceilings and hangings) in the Gothic Troubadour and Neo-Renaissance styles. Behind the edifice, a public garden is built.


During the Revolution, the patron and collector Aignan-Thomas Desfriches and the painter Jean Bardin gathered works of art. This way is born the first museum opened to the public in 1797. It has been established since 1984 in a building designed by Christian Langlois. The 700 works of art displayed cover the European artistic creations from the 15th to the 21st century. The museum owns an important fund of foreign school paintings. It is also famous for its French collections of the 17th and 18th centuries, its pastels and its graphic collections.


The so-called Joan of Arc’s House is the old dwelling of Jacques Boucher, the general treasurer of the Duke of Orléans in whose house Joan stayed in 1429. Strongly damaged in June 1940, the House is rebuilt and ended in 1965. Since 1976, it has been consecrated to Joan of Arc.


Credit : http://lyc-charles-peguy-orleans.tice.ac-orleans-tours.fr/

Located in the South of Orléans, the Floral Park of La Source holds its name from the river that takes its source there. The Abime and the Bouillon, its two main resurgences, form a remarkable hydro-geological phenomenon at the heart of this preserved site. Surprising in every season, the Floral Park of La Source is a true place of relaxation! Bulbs, iris, dahlias, roses, prairies, perennial plants, fuchsias, admirable trees, flowerbeds and other thematic gardens (rockery, vegetable garden, etc.) will please you. There is also a zoological park, in which more than 350 animals live: Chilean flamingoes, exotic birds, ducks, mammal and tropical butterflies. To complete the visit, it is possible to enjoy the small train, play mini-golf or rent a pedal car.

Avenue du Parc Floral
45100 – ORLEANS
Phone: 02 38 49 30 00
Mail address :

Orléans’ specialities


As soon as Louis XI’s reign, the Cotignac made Orléans famous. Celebrated by Rabelais, this cooked quince gelatine jam, moulded in small boxes made of spruce wood, is given to every famous person passing by. As a result of sugar and cacao imports, the sweet and chocolate industries grew in the end of the 18th century. During the next century, Saintoin’s firm delivered chocolates, liqueurs and other sweets in the whole France. At the same time, Auvray’s firm received international distinctions and sold products in more than 20 French departments.


Vinegar production in Orléans is linked to wine production. Vinegar was produced in barrels in which wine was mixed with already constituted vinegar – the bacteria’s multiplication to the contact of air turned the wine into vinegar. Vinegar manufacturing and trade began in the 14th century in Orléans and were at their height in the 18th century. The city also was place where mustard was produced, as vinegar is one of its main ingredients. Today, there is only one vinegar and mustard maker left in Orléans: The Dessaux Company.


Subject to floods, the left side of the Loire is little urbanized until the end of the 18th century. It is a location favourable to vines, orchards and nurseries, of which reputation are bigger than the city itself. The Saint-Fiacre corporation, created in 1806, celebrates its patron saint every year in the end of August. The district is decorated with flowers, fruits and vegetable at that time. This event often gives birth to the naming of a new rose variety.


Credit : © Maxppp – Pascal PROUST

Two events allow Orléans’ inhabitants to rediscover the history of their city. Each year ans with almost no interruption since 1429, Orléans celebrates Joan of Arc during the “Fêtes Johanniques”. This event recounts each step of her stay in Orléans, from her arrival on the 29th of April to the ending of the British siege on the 8th of May. Another major event in Orléans is the “Loire Festival” created in 2003, driven by the City Hall in order to allow the inhabitants to take possession of the Loire again. Orléans’ embankments thus welcome the biggest European gathering of the river navy in September, every other year.

Credit : http://www.my-loire-valley.com/

And also…

Near Orléans

The cities of Blois Bourges, Chinon, Loches, Tours and Vendôme benefit from the designation “City of Art and History”. The Pays de la Touraine, Loire Val d’Aubois and the Valley of the Cher and of the Romorantinais also benefit from the designation ‘Country of Art and History’.

Information and reservations at Orléans City Hall, Tourism, Event and Territory Promotion Department, City of Art and History Services – Place de l’Étape 45000 ORLÉANS – phone: 02 38 68 31 22
Mail address:
Web site : www.orleans-agglo.fr

The Loire by bike is a unique experience full of discoveries and emotions!

The Loire by Bike, it is:
– 800 km of marked up and secured itineraries
– 2 crossed regions (Centre and Pays de Loire)
– 6 French Departments (Cher, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, Loire-Atlantique)
– 1 Regional Natural Park (‘Loire-Anjou-Touraine’)
– 14 bike renters and repairers along the route
– 150 accommodations ‘Bike reception’
– 280 km listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List

All along the Loire by bike itinerary, the Loire’s landscapes are an invitation to escape and to discovery. The Loire gives you, for a ride’s length, the keys for 2000 years of history.

Credit : http://www.loireavelo.fr

Credit : © David Darrault http://www.touraineloirevalley.com

On the route, cycle paths alternate with small roads not much used. For your comfort and security, the itinerary is marked up in both directions. Follow the signs!

More than a route, the Loire by bike also offers receptions and services adapted to bike riders.

– A network of accommodations ‘Bike Reception’:
Some accommodations open their door to riding tourists and prepare them a privileged reception: adapted breakfast, closed space for bikes, repairs tools and many other services.

– Bike renters and repairers:
All along the route, professional bike renters and repairers engaged themselves to propose material, tools and services adapted to bike riders (quality bikes, professional advice, mending and repairing services, bike transport, documentation, weather forecast, etc.).

Credit : http://www.loireavelo.fr

Find all these professionals on the website “La Loire à Vélo” : www.loireavelo.fr

The Loiret

The architectural heritage

The History of France and the one of the King’s Valley have strongly marked the Loiret’s territory.

Beautiful stories will be told, full of castle life: from the Middle-Age defensive fortresses of Sully-sur-Loire, registered as Major Site of the Valley of the Loire, from Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire and from Yèvre-le-Châtel, to the romantic dwellings of the constructions of the 17th and 18th centuries’ Castles of La Ferté-Saint-Aubin and la Bussière, via Renaissance Castles like Chamerolles and its Fragrance Museum, Meung-sur-Loire or Gien, for example.

Credit : http://www.my-loire-valley.com/

Strong of a historical and cultural heritage, the Loiret is full of charm and character. The artistic and historical heritage of the Loiret can be seen on the cities’ and of the villages’ stones.

Credit : © château de Meung – Tourisme et Loiret

Discover the majesty and the variety of the religious heritage in the Loiret: the famous Cathedral Sainte-Croix of Orléans, the Basilica of Cléry-Saint-André where Louis XI is buried, the Abbey of Saint Benoit-sur-Loire which is a masterpiece of Roman art or the Carolingian Oratory of Germigny-des-Prés, the Royal Abbey of Ferrière-en-Gâtinais… are fascinating thanks to their architectural prowess.

Credit : http://www.baladesetpatrimoine.com/

A Land of water

Front door of the Valley of the Loire, one of the UNESCO-inscribed sites, the Department of Loiret stretches its vast area of plains and forests along the last European long big wild river.

Credit : Jean-Christophe Coutand, ADT Touraine

Natural corridor, the Loire will guide you to discover one of the extremities of the biggest French site registered on the Humanity World Heritage List between Sully-sur-Loire in the Loiret and Chalonnes-sur-Loire in the Maine-et-Loire.

Credit : J.F. Hellio et N. Van-Ingen http://www.my-loire-valley.com/

From its twists and turns surrounded by alluvial forests to the bronze sand of its bare sandbanks, from its preserved islands to its historical embankments, the Loire designs the landscapes and has, for centuries, given rhythm to the life of the cities and villages it crosses. Sometimes peaceful and indolent, sometimes frisky and turbulent, its shining waters reflect the illuminated sunsets.

It has an aquatic dimension that is truly endearing with its fauna, flora and its bucolic atmosphere to be discovered wandering along the canals of Orléans: the Canal du Loing and the Canal de Briare longing the Loire. As many natural scenes that get animated during summer days, especially with the events organised on the embankments, such as the Festival of the Loire.

Credit : Philippe DELEPINE https://www.clubcampings.com/