Centre-Val de Loire : Orléans
The main reason to travel here is not the city itself, but the many castles in the area. Some of the most famous and beautiful 'Chateaux' in the Loire Valley are: the 'Chateau de Chinon', the 'Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau', the 'Chateau de Langeais', the 'Chateau de Villandry', the 'Chateau de Chenonceau', the 'Chateau d'Amboise', the 'Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire', the 'Chateau de Blois', the 'Chateau de Cheverny' and last, but definitely not least, the 'Chateau Royal de Chambord'. This latter one, probably, is the most famous Castle in France. Visiting it, is not only recommended, but compulsory.
The best way to get to Orleans by plane is to fly into either one of the two Paris Airports. Most international carriers will service Charles De Gaule (CDG), but most low-cost carriers will service Orly. Orly airport is slightly closer to Orleans if you are driving, but neither airport provides direct services to Orleans and one will most likely have to transfer in Paris.
Many trains serve the sizeable railway station near Place Jean d'Arc, from Paris, which takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes with regional train, and about 50 minutes with express trains.
From Paris take a SNCF train from Paris's Gare d'Austerlitz to the Gare d'Orleans. These trains run frequently during the day. There is a tram which runs from the train station to the centre of the town.
Take the A10 motorway south-west from Paris. The trip will be slightly more than and hour, but in rush hour it can easily become a 3 hour trial.
You can also drive along the N20, which is a toll free road, and goes straight from Paris to Orleans. The route can be a bit longer than the Highway as the road takes you through a number of villages.
Loire river is the main river in the city. It used to be navigable at the beginning of the 20th century.
Within Orleans the tram runs from the city center down main street to the outlying small towns and suburbs. This does not provide much help to tourists, but can be useful getting to and from the train station.
The best way to travel is by foot or bike. The city is not large so by foot is the best way. Many bike rental stations allow you to use a bike from point A to B for a small fee.
What to See
Things to Do
Walk around the center of town, or along the banks of the river Loire. Barhop. Visit some of the city's great boulangeries.
The city celebrates Joan of Arc during the first week of May with parades, demonstrations, a "medieval market" and sound and light shows.
Billiards (pool) can be a fun way to unwind from a busy day. Orleans has many pool salons and even the bowling alley has a billiards section. Billiards is popular among teenagers on fridays after school, but finding an open table should not be a problem.
The université d'Orléans (10 miles south of downtown- well served by the tram line) has partnerships with many foreign universities. French classes for foreigners are available during a semester, year, or summer program. Information at www.univ-orleans.fr.
In this square there is also the biggest mall in town. You will find everything you need here, from an American burger to a movie theater.
Most stores do accept credit cards. The local chocolate factory, Chocolaterie Royale, makes many interesting and delicious souvenirs. Even if you aren't in the mood to buy chocolate, stopping by their store near the town square will amaze you at the way they can mold chocolate.
Many large French and international stores fill Orleans including H&M and Le Galarie Lafayette.
rue de Bourgogne is where almost all the restaurants in the city seem to be. You can find all kinds of food in this street, from Indian to Vietnamese. Prices also vary, from the cheapest fast food restaurants to the most expensive 'haute cuisine' ones
The Rue de Bourgogne is home to the majority of bars, pubs and nightlife of Orleans. Le bord de la Loire (the Loir river bank) is popular among young highschool students as a place for weekend drinking. There are also several concerts held along the Loire River during the summer.
Around 40km south of Orleans on the way to Bourges is the Parc des Alicourts 4-star campsite and spa, a holiday centre with a fishing lake, an aqua park with 4 pools, a plush health spa with hydrotherapy centre, camping pitches, chalets, cottages and a villa for rent.
Within easy reach of the chateaux and attractions of the Loire Valley, offering special offers on family holidays, camping weekends and spa breaks.
New for 2009: Stay in a treehouse The Parc des Alicourts has several new treehouses for 2009, some suitable for family holidays, some for cozy couple weekends. Ideal for getting away from it all.
Visiting the castles and houses along the Loire river is a great day trip from Orleans. A must see is Chambord.