Published on October 19, 2023

Orléans Val de Loire, a rich destination to discover

By Shana Devleschoudere
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Just an hour from Paris, Orléans Val de Loire is a destination that's sure to surprise. With its unspoilt natural landscapes, dynamic culture, delicious gastronomy and family atmosphere, this region offers an unrivalled variety of experiences. With 22 communes each boasting a remarkable heritage and unique identities, Orléans Val de Loire invites you to explore a territory rich in discovery, where history, nature, culture and conviviality come together to create a memorable getaway.

An exceptional architectural and cultural heritage

Narrow streets, medieval facades, Renaissance decorations, private mansions... history is written on the walls of Orléans, evoking its royal and commercial past. The city's rich history has been enhanced by a major redevelopment project undertaken in the 2000s, which has resulted in a fine renovation of the old town center, home to the Protestant Temple, the Saint Pierre Empont Cloister, the Salle des Thèses (Thesis Hall), as well as designer boutiques and arts and crafts stores. Nearly a thousand historic residences have been restored to their former glory, displaying a heritage that earned Orléans the "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire" (City of Art and History) label in 2009. Orléans also boasts a world-renowned heritage of must-sees: the Sainte-Croix Cathedral, the Crypts of Saint-Aignan and Saint-Avit, the Hôtel Groslot, the Campo Santo, the Hôtel Cabu, the Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier Collegiate Church...

In addition to the facades of historic residences, the old town of Orléans has many treasures to offer, including the Maison Jeanne d'Arc, the Musée d'Histoire et d'Archéologie, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the MOBE (Muséum d'Orléans pour la Biodiversité et l'Environnement), the FRAC Centre-Val de Loire... Destination Orléans Val de Loire also includes the Maison d'Irène wine press in Mardié, the Bou distillery, the Musée Campanaire Bollée in Saint-Jean-de-Braye, the cooperage museum in Chécy, the Maison de la polyculture in Ormes...

A green destination

Green. That's the color of the Orleans metropolis.
Bordered by the Loire, at the gateway to Sologne and on the edge of the Forêt d'Orléans, the metropolis combines mineral and chlorophyll. Rich in the sandy soil of its river, with river traffic enabling plants to travel from one region to another, the Orléans Métropole territory has made its resolutely green environment an asset, a specialty.

The Orleans metropolitan area is characterized by its abundant nature, with parks, gardens and forests offering a wide range of biodiversity. The region boasts 18 parks and gardens, representing no fewer than 25,000 trees, 203 of them remarkable, divided into 45 different species! The Parc Floral de la Source is a fine example of this, and a must-see to add to your visit. The Forêt d'Orléans to the north offers a rich biodiversity, with its aquatic spaces, undergrowth, springs and fields of flowers. Orléans is also a paradise for cyclists, with numerous cycle routes, including the Loire à Vélo. The Jardins éphémères and the Concours International de Rose add a floral touch to the region. Finally, for golf enthusiasts, there are 7 golf courses just 1 hour from Paris.

A waterfront destination 

Orléans is a city of water, home to the majestic Loire, Europe's largest wild river. This metropolis, nestled in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage Loire Valley, is criss-crossed by the Loire from east to west, a reminder of its rich past as a commercial crossroads. Orléans was once the main port supplying Paris, transporting oils, fruit, spices, wood, wine and more.

Resolutely turned towards the Loire, the town has redeveloped its quays to make them a lively place. Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll or a festive evening in a guinguette, the river provides the ideal backdrop. As you follow its course, you'll discover the historic heart of the city, the lock of the Canal d'Orléans, the old 19th-century port, the Pont George V (formerly Pont Royal), the Quai de Prague on the south side, and the modern architecture of the Pont de l'Europe signed by Santiago Calatrava. Explore the Quais du Châtelet and Fort Alleaume, and don't miss the Place de Loire with its "Inexplosible" paddle steamer, as well as other treasures lining this majestic river.

A destination on the move

Orléans is a destination on the move all year round, with a multitude of exciting events. In April, don't miss the Easter festivities, including egg hunts in iconic locations. May is the month to celebrate Joan of Arc, with a festival recognized as part of France's Intangible Cultural Heritage. From May to June, guinguettes along the quays invite you to relax and dance by the Loire.
July and August bring Cocorico Electro to the Château de la Ferté-Saint-Aubin, as well as sound and light shows projected onto the cathedral. In September, the Festival de Loire brings together the European river navy. October sees the Loire Art Show, an urban arts festival showcasing the work of renowned street artists. November transforms the Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans into a haunted place for Halloween. December is magical, with Christmas markets and castles lit up to spread the magic of Christmas. Orléans vibrates all year round!

A gourmet destination

Orléans Val de Loire is a gourmet destination par excellence. Here, restaurateurs showcase local produce, from asparagus to Loire fish. The region is renowned for its vinegar, appellation d'origine contrôlée wines, cafés, chocolatiers and many other delicacies. Local markets abound with fresh produce. Orléans is a feast for the taste buds, inviting travelers to discover its culinary treasures.

The Festival de Loire is held every 2 years in September, and is the perfect opportunity to discover the Loire region's finest tastes!

An accessible, family-friendly destination 

The Orleans metropolitan area has been awarded the Famille Plus label, offering a warm welcome, facilities, entertainment and prices to suit all ages, whether you're traveling as a couple, with friends or as a family. You can arrive by train, thanks to two SNCF stations linked by streetcar. Cyclists can take the Loire à Vélo cycle route. What's more, you can reach Orléans from Paris airports by train via Gare d'Austerlitz, or from Orléans Loire Valley airport, located 20 km east of Orléans and suitable for light tourist and business aircraft. Orléans is a convenient destination for all travelers.

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