City Focus: Orléans

What better way to ring in the new year than to experience a new city? Check out our city guide to Orléans.

When I’m travelling to France, I’m driven by the opportunity to explore new destinations. While I’m a city-dweller at heart, I enjoy seeking out new challenges and experiences all the time. That’s why the start of a new year is a really exciting time.

It’s a chance to start planning new adventures, making lists of all the places you want to visit and adding a few things to your all-important bucket list. The capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region, Orléans is a great place to visit at any time of year. Check out my guide to the city for some of the best things to see and do during your visit.

Orléans Cathedral

Built between the years of 1278 to 1329 and 1601 to 1829, the cathedral of Orléans is one of the city’s key attractions. Famous for its stained-glass window depictions of the story of Joan of Arc, the saviour of Orléans and a Roman Catholic Saint, who went to mass here in 1429 and used the site to help lift the siege of Orléans.

If you’re travelling with children, the cathedral is a great place to teach them a little about this iconic part of French history. After you’ve stood in awe of the Gothic cathedral, take a leisurely stroll down Rue Jeanne d'Arc. This beautiful street was built over 15 years to be a sign of the city’s opulence, and was added to after WWII.

Stand in awe of Orléans Cathedral

Stand in awe of Orléans Cathedral © Flickr user Cedric Biennais

Parc Floral de la Source

The most visited site in the Loiret department, this park is one of my favourite places in Orléans to visit. The Parc Floral de la Source is home to the start of the Loiret River, and is recognised across France for its beauty, having been awarded the status of Jardin Remarquable.

It’s the perfect place for a picnic or simply to take a stroll to enjoy the park’s natural beauty, which benefits from its location between the Loire Valley and the wooded areas of the Sologne region.

Take a stroll through the beautiful Parc Floral de la Source

Take a stroll through the beautiful Parc Floral de la Source © Flickr user Esther Westerveld

A city packed with culture

Whether you’re a lover of art, history or French architecture, there will be something to entertain you within the city of Orléans. Works from French masters, particularly works from between the 16th and 18th centuries, can be found housed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans. There are over 700 different works of art to discover, with some great sculptures from the 20th century as well as more classic works. Another really impressive building, the Musée Historique et Archéologique de l'Orléanais is just around the corner and is well worth seeing, even if only for its façade.

If you’re looking to explore a little more outside, don’t miss the historical centre of the city. While much of the city was severely damaged during the Second World War and had to be rebuilt, there are parts of the old town that survived. With cobbled streets and timbered buildings, the old town is a pleasant place to explore on foot. Be sure to check out the statue of Joan of Arc, which stands at the centre of the Place du Martroi.

Restaurants & bars

The large size of Orléans means that it benefits from countless restaurants. I’ve listed just a few of my favourites for you to explore.

Taste delicious French cakes from one of Orléans’ many patisseries

Taste delicious French cakes from one of Orléans’ many patisseries © Flickr user Tony Hisgett

Les Becs à Vin

Grape connoisseurs can venture to Les Becs à Vin for their wine fix. Rub shoulders with the locals while tasting the finest local wines, with an emphasis on organic horticulture. With a cellar boasting over 200 different varieties, you might want to return more than once for the chance to find your new favourite grape.

Le Lièvre Gourmand

One of the most famous restaurants in Orléans has its reputation for good reason. Boasting a Michelin Star, Le Lièvre Gourmand sits beside the scenic Loire River. Their menu is beautifully presented and features both raw and cooked dishes. The chef’s roots lie in New Guinea and Australia, and this influence can be seen in both the restaurant’s décor and menu.

Oh Terroir

For more casual dining, the food offered at Oh Terroir is simple, delicious and locally sourced. The food is organic and sourced from surrounding farms in the Loiret department, so you can dine on fresh burgers, fries, pasta, salads and enjoy artisanal beer, with total clarity about the farm-to-plate process.

Explore France in 2017 and get ready for new experiences around every corner. If you’re ready to say “oui” to the trip of a lifetime, book with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle today and get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes.