Spotlight on Orléans

June 1, 2018

The city between two worlds, Orléans combines old and new, traditionalism and modernism, the archaic and the novel. Its origins stem back to the Roman Empire, with a prevalent heritage, yet a lively university culture and contemporary art galleries. Set in the plush Loire region, the alabaster metropolis is a bold change from the greenery of the surrounding countryside. Orléans sees Loire’s trickling rivulets and dense forestry, and raises it with wide avenues and Romanesque architecture.

 

Things to do

  • Orléans Cathedral is one of the city’s main attractions. Initially established hundreds of years ago, the current façade dates back to the Gothic revivalism of the 19th Joan of Arc is said to have prayed here before taking Orléans back from the English, adding to the cathedral’s allure.
  • The Musée des Beaux Arts boasts one of the largest and finest art collections in France. With 2,000 paintings, 10,000 drawings and more, the gallery spans centuries and covers an array of artistic styles.
  • With 35 hectares of stunning landscaped grounds, Parc Floral de la Source is the perfect way to spend a sunny day. Escape the excitement of the city for themed gardens, an aviary and butterfly house.
  • The pedestrianised main square, Place du Martroi, is where you will find the valiant statue of Joan of Arc atop her horse. There’s also a vintage carousel and a food market every Friday evening.
  • Vieux Orléans, or centre-ville, is the medieval quarter of the city, with half-timbered edifices, shuttered windows and cobbled courtyards. Just off the Loire river, find independent bars, cafés and restaurants.

 

What to eat

  • Housed in a narrow, timbered building, you may miss La Parenthèse if you aren’t looking. Serving French cuisine, their dedication to their craft is stunning, with beautiful presentation and an effusion of native flavours.
  • A surprising favourite amongst locals is traditional Orléans mustard. Bring a few jars home; as once you get a taste you’ll be disappointed if you don’t.
  • Freshly baked financiers are a must-try. Head into any pastry shop and you may even find them still warm from the oven. If you’re visiting on a Friday, you can pick some up from the food market in Place du Martroi.
  • Looking for something quick and easy? That’s where L’art en Burger steps in. Enjoy big eat burgers served on wood platters, with 7 permanent options and a burger that changes monthly. You can eat in, take away, or even get it delivered to your accommodation.

 

What to drink

  • Hidden underground is Le Club 15, a jazz bar hosting live music, poker nights and more.
  • An authentic French wine bar in the heart of Vieux Orléans, Les Becs à Vin is where the locals come to choose between the 200 options stored in the cellar.

 

How to get there

Hop on the Dover to Dunkirk or Calais ferry crossing, and from either port you’re less than a 5 hour drive from Orléans. Alternatively, opt for our Newhaven to Dieppe ferry crossing, where you are just 3½ hours’ drive from Orléans.

 

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