Orleans is the capital of the department of Loiret and the Centre-Val de Loire Region.
The Romans, Attila the Hun and the English all did their best to wipe it out the city even before the destruction of WWII. Fortunately many historic buildings have survived and they, along with the obvious Joan of Arc connection keep it on the Loire Valley tourist map.
The season of festivals throughout the summer make it a lively place. Visit the tourist office and they will provide you with an itinerary to enable you to visit the main sites of interest in the city and appreciate the Romanesque churches, the many examplesof renaissance architecture, the half timbered houses and the various museums throughout the city.
The three main places of interest have to be the impressive cathedral,’Ste-Croix’, Hotel Groslot (former Hotel de Ville) and the re-creation of Joan of Arc’s house on Place General-de-Gaulle. The children might enjoy this more than adults so be sure to give a little insight into her history as an introduction.
For ‘culture vultures’ there is also the large Musee des Beaux-Arts to keep you happy.
Don’t miss taking the children, especially the younger ones, to ‘Parc Floral de la Source’ a 32 hectare site which has everything from a butterfly kingdom ,kid’s play area, puppet shows and glorious garden displays. It can be found south of the river in the direction of St-Cyr-en-Val. There is an entrance fee for adults – children under 6 enter free.
From the end of April to the first week in May, the anniversary of the liberation of Orleans by Joan of Arc is celebrated by a series of events including the medieval festival and market, concerts, exhibitions, sound and light displays plus various processions commencing with ‘Joan’ entering the city through the ‘Port de Bourgogne’.
The high points of these festivities are during the first couple of days with the ceremony of the “standard” handed from the mayor to the bishop, the commemorative parades, concerts in the town and a firework display on the facade of the cathedral.