Monument to Joan of Arc in Orleans. Photo: Angel Martínez Bermejo
Orleans It is one of the oldest cities in France, which for the traveler is a guarantee of history, well-preserved cultural heritage and opportunities to discover the savoir vivre French.
It is located On the banks of Loire river, right at the northernmost point of its course and, therefore, the closest to Paris.
This fact makes us imagine that its port has always been very active, which partly justifies the wealth of the city.
Towers of the cathedral of Orleans. Photo: Angel Martínez Bermejo
This location on the road to Paris, makes trains from Madrid and Barcelona stop at the station Orleans-Les Aubraysmaking Orleans one of the best places to undertake a route through the Loire Valley, declared area World Heritage by Unesco
A stroll through the historic center of Orleans It is the best way to enter the environment of the French department capitals, in which it seems that modern ways of life are combined with respect for heritage.
Joan of Arc in Orleans
Here you can walk through straight streets with arcades flanked by sturdy bourgeois mansions of the 19th century - where there are shops so well presented that you would like to take everything - as well as through narrow streets of medieval layout.
In these you will find houses with half-timbered walls full of artist workshops and small shops that sell the most unusual objects.
Loire river in Orleans. Photo Angel Martínez Bermejo
It's a delight enjoy the historic charm of Orleans on which, from the first moment, the constant presence of the figure of Joan of Arc.
This is one of the fundamental characters in the history of France, and constantly appears on any tour of this central part of theLoire Valley.
In Orleans, an equestrian monument dominates the spacious Martroi Square; there is also the house in which he lived and there is a chapel dedicated to her in the Sainte Croix Cathedral.
Here one of the momentous facts of the life of the French heroine was developed.
Orleans was besieged by English troops and about to give up, when he arrived Joan of Arc with his comrades, he managed to lift the site and eventually put an end to what could have been the total conquest of France by the English.
As history goes around a lot, there is now a monument in memory of the English soldiers who died in France during the World War I right next to the chapel that in the cathedral is dedicated to Joan of Arc.
Hotel Groslot, former city hall of Orleans Photo: Angel Martínez Bermejo
You have to go through the cathedral again and again to see it up close, and then walk away to distinguish its two square towers standing above the rooftops.
There are two places to highlight next: on the one hand, the Museum of Fine Arts , in the Place Sainte Croix, one of the most complete in France (with works by Velázquez, Gauguin Y Picasso in your catalog).
And on the other, the Hôtel Groslot, pure Renaissance architecture that can be discovered (free admission) except when there are official ceremonies.
From the cathedral you have to walk slowly towards the Loire, getting carried away by the maze of alleys that seem to lead nowhere.
The place de la République, dominated by an airy bell tower, is one of the few large spaces in the area.
Half-timbered houses in Orleans in the Loire Valley. Photo: Angel Martínez Bermejo
As soon as the weather is fine, the bars take their tables to the street and, in the late afternoon, the neighborhood acquires that unreal atmosphere where you can enjoy the wonder that is having a drink or dinner with the current comforts in a scenario that seems not to have changed for six or eight centuries.
And, a little further, it appears the Loire, wide and majestic.
Normally it falls quietly, well channeled as it passes through Orleans, but we must not forget that it is the last wild river in France, perhaps in Europe.
You have to cross the bridge to enjoy the view of the rooftops of the city from the other side.
On the other shore the new city, born only in the twentieth century, which shows that Orleans, rich in history, is more alive than ever.
Corner of the historic center of Orleans. Photo: Angel Martínez Bermejo